Last of 2 Parts
My brother and I went to Tacloban City Hall early Sunday morning, two days after Yolanda had ravaged the city, to arrange a flight for my family on the C-130 to Manila.
I had arrived in Tacloban on the same transport plane the day earlier to find our house demolished by Yolanda’s storm surge and savage winds. But my family was safe.
We—my parents, siblings and their children, a group of 11 in all—decided to get out of Tacloban because the medicine for my 12-year-old niece’s heart problem had run out.
On the road to City Hall my brother and I passed people lugging their belongings, on their way to the airport.
“Ano iton myda, kay-ano kamo nagdadagmit tikadto ha airport? Myda ngadto panhatag hin ayuda?” (Why are you rushing to the airport? Are there relief operations there?) I asked one of them.
“Waray, magawas kami denhi kami sir ha Tacloban kay magpapatay kami denhi hit gutom” (No sir. We have to leave Tacloban or we will die of hunger here), he said.
A 15-year-old boy caught my attention because he was unwrapping the sheets that covered the face of every dead body he encountered in the streets.
“Mayda ka guin bibiling?” [Are you looking for someone?], I said.
“Guin bibiling ko hira mama ngan papa,” [I am looking my parents] the boy said in between sobs.
I asked him how he got separated from his parents. “Naanod hira han baha, nakadi la kami ha Astrodome nag-evacuate” (We evacuated at the Astrodome when they were carried by the water), the boy said.
At City Hall, I discovered to my dismay that I just missed the military officer in charge of reservations for the C-130. I had no choice but to wait it out at the airport.
We returned home and I told my family to pack only the most essential items that we will need in Manila.
On Monday morning we started out for the airport which was about 7 to 10 kilometers away.
After a little more than three hours of walking we reached the airport. It was noon so we had our lunch: biscuits and bottled water. It won’t be long now and we will be in Manila, I thought.
I was wrong. We stayed at the airport terminal for 24 hours because we were bumped off the plane by passengers who were given “priority” by the authorities.
“Mauhaw gad, myda kita maiinom?” [I’m thirsty, do we have something to drink?] my mom asked hours into our wait.
I told her we ran out. I went outside the terminal looking for water. Someone who introduced himself as a “Doctor Wilson” from the Saint Luke’s Medical Center gave me a glass.
Nanay shared the water with six other members of my family.
Later that night I approached a group of soldiers and asked if I could have some water from the gallon container belonging to a foreigner.
The soldiers drove me away.
I finally wangled a bottle of water from a fireman.
The next day, I told my parents to be ready because a Colonel Valcorza promised to get us aboard the C-130 when it arrives.
But it turned out that our seats were given to a Mister Uy and his family.
It began to rain and we were drenched. We haven’t eaten a decent meal. I saw my brother, niece and nephews and father sharing some rice and water.
“Where did you get that rice?” I asked them.
“An bahaw ini nga nag-pan-os.” [This is the rice that spoiled], my mother said.
And that water? Tubig uran ini.” [This is rainwater.] she replied.
I spotted some friends in media and they gave me canned goods and biscuits.
The queue for the plane seemed endless. I was tired of giving up our seats to “VIPs” so I confronted a military officer who seemed to be in charge at the terminal.
“Sir, bakit niyo sila pinauna? Wala sila sa manifesto. May sakit sa puso ang pamangkin ko, sana maawa po kayo!” I pleaded.
“Didn’t you know that they are patients? “ the officer shot back.
“How can she be a patient, she’s not injured or ill. She’s a board member of Leyte, I know her.” I replied.
“If you want, you can get on the plane but you have to leave your family behind,” he said.
I realized it was useless arguing with this man. I went to a Lt. Col. Lauron and introduced myself as a journalist.
After a lot of convincing, he allowed my family and I to board the C-130.
My family is now in Manila. We probably will stay in Manila for a few months to sort out our lives. Then we will be going back to Tacloban.
“Mabalik kami, kay mga taga Tacloban kami,” [We will return because we are Taclobanons], my father said.