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Life of the Yolanda “no build zone” dwellers

tent city dwellers

By JAZMIN BONIFACIO
April 27, 201

TACLOBAN CITY – The devastation from the 2013 Super Typhoon Yolanda and storm surge will not soon be forgotten. And it’s been five months now and the devastation of typhoon Yolanda in the city of Tacloban and in the entire Eastern Visayas region are still evident but so too are signs of progress.

And areas in the region worst hit by storm surge are still in the process of recovery, with many residents continuing to live in the tents cities along the no build zone areas.

With these, ‘shelter’ still the hottest issue in the city and to other nearby towns severely inflicted by huge tsunami-like surges seawater.

Respective government agencies, international organizations and non government organizations are doing steps to respond well to all of the possible help to be extended.

The local government of Tacloban is providing temporary shelter to displaced families, especially those families living in the no build zone areas.

According to Derrick Anido, city disaster risk reduction management chief officer, said that rebuilding homes do take some time, more so that the local government is fronted with problems like they don’t have enough space for the relocation land for the relocation site.

With these, survivors living in the coastal areas, especially, those in the `no build zone’ tried again to live in their ruined homes. They had to reconstruct again some shanty houses, made of tarpaulins as a roof and for others they put some wood on the side and for sure it won’t stand up to a storm.

However, ‘waray-waray’ people (to what locals in Eastern Visayas fondly called), are known to be resilient people and they had the ability to use the support available to them in their environment to their advantage.

Pedro `Dodot’ Cajipe, a father of 4 children, recalled how the water has gotten into all the houses in Costa Brava, San Jose and how fallen trees have broken most of the homes. Almost everything has been destroyed.

“Water has gotten into all the houses in our village… the storm surge has taken everything we earned, no food, no place to stay, no savings for us to buy private lots … away from this place in San Jose.’ Dodot said.

People still have nowhere to go other than their shanty houses in the no build zone areas, and hundreds of them are facing threat of disease, contaminating drinking water or no water at all to drink.

It was learned also that victims of the typhoon are reluctant to stay longer in the tent cities because of some protection concerns which they think about for their children, particularly young girls.

According to Jenny Palahinog, a mother 4 children of Old Road Sagkahan, “dirimasayon an pagbalay yana, waray namon kwarta nga sadang ikatukod hin balay, labot la nga maupay nala didi bisan aadi kami ha no build zone, di man pirmi iton bagyo, problemako la di gihapon talwas adton mga anak labina an akon mga anak nga babayi.”

Jenny was remarkably determined and resilient in the face of crushingly difficult circumstances. They had to sleep inside the tents on mattresses that rest on wooden and plastic pallets. Their food, beverages, clothing and other belongings were arranged neatly along the wall of the tent.

And according to Jenny, “you try your best to make it look like home”.

While admitting that the living conditions at the tent city weren’t safe and appropriate for children, Dodot, Jenny and all those living in the ‘no build zone’ areas wanted the government to take action. They’ve been living in the tent city, partly because they have no other place to stay. They vow to remain there until the government gives them housing.