By Rey Sandy Abayan, Field Assistant
It has been more than a year since Super Typhoon Yolanda almost devastated the lives of the people in Giporlos, a fifth class municipality in the Province of Eastern Samar, in the Philippines. Yet, visible still are marks of the devastation—piles of debris that people chose to keep for future utilizations, slanting posts of unrepaired and abandoned houses and buildings, and the hanging, now worn-out tarps that were distributed by several Non-Government Organizations. Vivid still are memories and stories of the days of hardships to those who felt the brunt of “Yolanda”.
The family lost all of their properties and a house located in No Build Zone and washed-out by the potent river flood during the typhoon. Despite what happened, they felt very blessed for being able to evacuate to a relative’s house the night before. Homeless the next day, the family relied on scavenged debris for the makeshift shelter under the bridge that became their home for the next eighteen months.The family of Flordaliza Tercio, 40, whose family sources of incomes is fishing and farming was among the thousands of families in the municipality displaced by the typhoon.
Flordeliza recounted how they relied much on coconuts and root crops for their food in those days after the typhoon; endured the dark and sleepless nights under the bridge; withstood mosquito bites; felt unsecured of the thin curtains that covered the house for a little taste of privacy; feared that other people might come to their house at night and harm them; and tolerated the noise of passing vehicles and daily tremors of the house when heavier vehicle passed by.
One of her daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy but they couldn’t afford better medication for her. One night, when everyone was asleep and everywhere was in total darkness, their daughter fell from the bed into the water during an epileptic attack. Luckily, they saved her from drowning!
The Tercio family is one of the over a hundred families in Barangay 5 who received full shelter from CRS’ shelter recovery project. The construction of the new shelter was completed March of 2015.
Now, the family is delightedly living in their new shelter located in safer place and relies on the income they get from selling fish and crops harvest from their farm and the small garden around the new house.
Flordeliza spoke of the “Bagong bahay, bagong buhay, bagong pag-asa” or “New home, new life, and new hope” after receiving a house. With new house comes new ways of living. Flordeliza mentioned they no longer have fear of the rising water in times of heavy downpour. They no longer have fears of intruders who might disturb them at night. Now, they feel that they have gained security and privacy. Far from the previous situation, they now enjoy the peaceful environment of the farm; calmness they once wished when they were still under the bridge. The noise and the tremors of the passing vehicles are now gone.
With a heart filled with gladness she shared, “If I can just be with God today, I’ll thank Him for touching the hearts of the many who became instrumental for us to receive such wonderful blessings. If there is a lesson that I can get from all of these discomforts we had been through, it is that we should not cease from hoping and from trusting, praying, praising and thanking God. It is good that everyone prays. If there will be many of us who will continually pray, I know that God will listen and will eventually grant our prayers. Truly, God answered our prayers.”