Two weeks after Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated Central Visayas, survivors, particularly family breadwinners, share a common predicament—how to regain their sources of income.
Hundreds of survivors who fled to Manila are hoping that aside from the food aid they are receiving, the government or some private group would help them find jobs or livelihoods.
Clarissa Bueno, 42, who is staying in a tent put up for typhoon victims in Pasay City, said she needs seed money so she can again sell vegetables at the market in Tanauan, a neighboring town of Tacloban City in Leyte.
“We sell vegetables at the night market, it’s our only source of income where we get to sustain the schooling of my two children,” Bueno told The Manila Times in mixed Tagalog and Waray at the Villamor Airbase Elementary School in Pasay City, where a 100-bed tent was set up for typhoon refugees that were flown to Manila.
She is accompanied by her son, Jejomar, 18, a first year criminology student at Visayas State University, and daughter Camile, 12, a Grade 7 pupil.
Bueno, who left her husband, Gaspar, 42, and her sons Joseph, 22, and Iran Jay, 21, in a small makeshift house in Barangay Salvador, said she needs P10,000 as start-up capital.
She hopes to start a new life once she and her children are back in Tacloban.
She left Tacloban with Jejomar and Camile on Tuesday night after joining a long line of typhoon victims who like them were hungry, cold, and dazed.
“My husband could not move freely after he sustained a big wound in his left knee while looking for his brother. The two sons were told to look after their father,” she said.
Her husband’s brother, Limuel, his wife and their 8-year-old child were found dead in nearby Barangay Magay where 60 people drowned in a storm surge.
In Tanauan town alone, around 700 residents were killed by the storm surge whipped up by Yolanda.
“From the trees where some survivors clung for life, they told us they saw people on top of their bungalow houses eaten by big waves,” she said.
Bueno said the water from the sea was filthy and foul-smelling, turning whatever available food left impossible to eat.
“Even if we dried the rice under the sun, we could not eat it because it smelled like a dead corpse,” she said.
Bueno was waiting for her aunt, Necitas, who lives in Pandacan, Manila, to pick them up. Her aunt owns a rice field in their barangay.
She said that town and barangay officials had warned them about the monster storm. They even received a big sheet of tarpaulin that her husband used as a roof for the makeshift shelter he built with his two sons.
Life depends on a banca
Diorico Cordoves, a 31-year-old fisherman, with six little children, reckoned he will need P20,000 to buy a new banca and a five-horsepower motor to resume his livelihood. With the boat, he could start from scratch, Cordoves said.
“We live a simple life. With a banca, I can provide for our daily needs and my six little kids will be happy,” he said, shedding tear as he showed his wounds that he sustained when he saved his kids from the big waves that swallowed up their community.
Cordoves said he saw three kids slip from their mothers’ arms at the height of the debris-filled flood.
“We were told to evacuate to the nearby church. The flood was already chest-deep when we all rushed to bring our kids to the ceiling. I practically tossed my small kids up to the ceiling,” he said in halting Tagalog as he cuddled a young daughter. His kids are aged 13, 10, 8, 5, 3 and one.
They reached Villamor airbase on Tuesday night after spending three days waiting for a flight at Tacloban airport. His wife, Joselyn, could not be interviewed because she lost her voice from screaming during the typhoon.
Cordoves is asking the public to help him contact Francisco Todella, his father-in-law, and relay to him that they are waiting for him to pick them up. He said that they cannot call him because they lost their cell phone.
Todella lives in Olongapo City.
Geronimo Dawat, 49, of Barangay San Jose, Ormoc City, wants to go back to farming.
Before the typhoon struck, he grew rice in a three-hectare plot that he is renting. A fourth of the yield goes to the owner.
Dawat, his wife Ledivita, 46, and their two daughters Jennifer, 13, and Leslie, 11, arrived at Villamor airbase on Wednesday morning.
They were waiting for their daughter Joy, 22, who lives in Fairview, Quezon City, to fetch them. “We were able to contact her and she promised to get us anytime today,” Dawat told The Times.
The Dawat couple has two other daughters in Makati City—Lovely, 20, and Jane, 16. Lovely is a management major at the University of Makati. Her schooling is being shouldered by her mother’s employer, Yolanda Natividad.
The Dawats said all the houses and buildings in their town, including that of Leyte Congresswoman Lucy Torres, were destroyed. He said people who were lucky to run to higher ground saw the storm surge came crashing through the houses and buildings, ripping them to pieces.
Geronimo said they have no house to return to in Ormoc because it was swept to the sea by the surge.
The Buenos and Cordoves were among the first five families who arrived at the Villamor tent city on Tuesday night, according to Pasay City Social Welfare Officer Potchoy Sahiral.
Many of the survivors immediately went to the homes of their relatives upon reaching Manila.