Filipinos escape typhoon wasteland, but not worry

November 25, 2013 6:26 PM

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More than 12,000 people displaced by the massive Nov. 8 have made it to the capital. Most are with relatives; those with no family here are in shelters. Many have no idea how or where to rebuild their lives.

“What will happen to us when this kindness ends?” asked Maribel Villajos, a 37-year-old mother of three children who sat listlessly with her husband on cots surrounded by bags of newly donated clothes, potato chips and instant coffee sachets at the same shelter where Abadines and his family were taken.

Villajos’ husband is a carpenter, but his tools were swept away along with their house in the tsunami-like storm surge that swept far into Tacloban and ruined much of the densely-populated coastal city.

Thousands of people from areas wrecked by Haiyan clambered aboard free C-130 mercy flights to Manila without any plan, in a desperate bid to escape the hunger, uncertainties and lingering stench of death back home. Others arrived here by bus, or fled to central Cebu province, which like the capital is regarded by rural poor Filipinos as a greener pasture in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation of more than 96 million people.

They keep coming. In Tacloban, hundreds of survivors lined up Monday outside the city’s damaged airport, waiting for a flight out. Survivors will be ferried out “for as long as possible,” said Eduardo del Rosario, who heads the government’s disaster-response agency.

Many typhoon survivors traveled to Manila to stay with relatives, but a few dozen families have no connections to the city and now live in one of about 10 emergency shelters run by the government and private groups.

The shelter the Abadines and Villajos families live in was set up in a sprawling grade school compound. It has eight portable toilets and three televisions tuned to South Korean soap operas and the Cartoon Network.

Jennifer Dawat, 13, passed the time by making crayon drawings of the family’s happier days in Leyte’s Ormoc city. One showed a girl flying a kite beside a box-like yellow house with a blue roof and a coconut tree, and a smiling yellow sun overhead.

Walk-in volunteers drop by to hand over used clothes, children’s books and food. A cellphone company offers free calls. A local radio network parked a mobile van studio for anybody wanting to broadcast any message or recount typhoon ordeals to the public.


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