November 6—Together with the rest of the Forest and Climate Protection Project (FORCLIM) team of Panay, I had a community consultation with the locals of Sitio Tinagong Dagat, Cabatangan, Lambunao for the Critical Habitat Establishment planning of the Visayan Writhed Hornbill, Visayan Spotted Deer, Panay Monitor Lizard, and Visayan Warty Pig.
Coincidentally, I am celebrating my 30th birthday. My visit to Tinagong Dagat was very surreal—it’s like a place I’ve never imagined—the scenic view I never thought I would see in a place as lovely as Tinagong Dagat. It was also an experience listening to the local communities, the way they live, how they maintain peace and commune with nature.
By noon, we left the community, and readied for an 8-hour trek going back to our staff house. Aside from the birthday greetings received, our team got a warning to keep safe for the coming super typhoon. We were informed that we must go back to the town proper earlier due to Yolanda, which will directly hit the Visayas region.
November 7—At the staff house, I washed my clothes, tents, sleeping bags, and shoes that I used in hiking. I prepared my stuff, recharged my solar panel, fixed batteries of my headlight, and waited for my clothes to dry-up. Then, I went to the grocery to buy food.
November 8—I am so excited to see my family. I woke up early morning, and hurriedly went home. At last, I reached home; it’s good to see nanay cooking food.
I heard a strange sound “whooooohhh” around noon, and yes, Yolanda has arrived. Papaya fruits started falling from the trees so as the trunks and the leaves, coconut trees swaying, and people were shouting.
Honestly, this is the first time I experienced a super typhoon. I know I need to relax, but my heart keeps beating fast. I tried calling my officemates in Antique and colleagues in Aklan and Iloilo but no word from them. There really is a disaster.
November 9—People here are busy clearing the fallen trunks, leaves, and fixing destroyed stuffs. We are still fortunate that we were not that affected compared with towns of Iloilo, Antique, Aklan, Capiz, and Samar and Leyte in Eastern Visayas.
Day after, I volunteered in a relief operation, but immediately flew to the Haribon headquarters in Manila to attend a year-end planning.
(Nove Jun Calawigan is one of Haribon’s Community Organizers under the Forest and Climate Project Project in Panay.)