WHILE there is a mass exodus of survivors from areas ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), their families in Metro Manila are also lining up in various bus terminals scrambling to get into Eastern Visayas.
In fact, Philtranco, one of the transport companies in Pasay City, which has routes and destinations in Eastern Visayas, added trips just to accommodate passengers going to Samar and Leyte.
According to Rico Villaluna, officer-in-charge for operations of Philtranco, apart from the scheduled daily trips, they added charter trips just to take hundreds of passengers going to the badly-hit areas of Tacloban City in Leyte and Samar.
“There is an influx of passengers wanted to be in our daily trips going to the areas affected by the typhoon so we added trips aside from the charters,” he told The Manila Times.
In a day, Villaluna said, Philtranco has an average of 30 trips just to accommodate the passengers.
“We have 10 trips in a day but now, it is more than double plus our charter trips going straight to Tacloban,” he added.
Gemma Galos, one of the passengers who was able to get aboard the last trip on Friday night said, she decided to go to Tacloban just to check the condition and bring help to her parents and siblings.
Galos brought with her some pieces of clothes, medicines, food and even salt and cooking wares.
“Kahit naka-survive sila, kaya lang kailangan nila ng damit at mga gamit, at pagkain dahil walang palengke doon [Although they survived from the typhoon, they still need clothes, things and food because even the market was destroyed,]” she added.
For their part, Nanette Edaño and Analyn Macato, both overseas workers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), went on an emergency leave just to visit their families and relatives in Tacloban city.
Edaño said she has no contacts with her family in Tacloban since communication has not yet fully restored.
“Kaya ako uuwi ng Tacloban para malaman ang kalagayan ng aking pamilya [I am going to Tacloban for me to check the condition of my family],” she said.
Macato said she could not sleep for almost three days thinking of what happened to her family.
“Balisa na ako dahil nanonood ko sa CNN na lubhang sinalanta ang Tacloban city [I am really worried after watching CNN reports that Tacloban was greatly devastated by the typhoon],” she said.
Christopher Alas was also on the same trip hoping to get good news when he arrives in Tacloban city.
Alas said the main reason why he decided to go to Tacloban is for him to check if his sister, Lady Lyn, a nun at the Missionaries of Charities, is still alive.
“We have no information on the whereabouts of my sister, so I have to check it personally,” added Alas, who was accompanied by his wife in the terminal.
Villaluna said if their busses are full of passengers going to Eastern Visayas, they are also jam-packed with desperate survivors wanted to flee out of the devastated areas in returning to Metro Manila.
The Times met the family of Elena Bermejo, who just arrived from Tacloban city.
Still exhausted from their ordeal, Bermejo said they decided to go to Manila because the condition in their barangay is already arduous, with no help coming from the government.
“Nakakatakot na doon dahil may patayan na, pinapasok na ang bahay-bahay ng mga armado, para ng Martial law [It is hard to live there because of the violence, houses are being robbed by armed looters, it’s like Martial law there],” she said.
Bermejo said none of the members of her family died from the storm surge brought by super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ because she was able to gather them in the second flood or their house.
Her entire family will be staying with her stepdaughter in Baclaran, Parañaque City.
But Villaluna said some of the arriving passengers have no relatives to live with while in Metro Manila.
“Of course, if you are already desperate, you wanted to go out of Tacloban, you just ride a bus to Manila or somewhere else even if you have no idea of what awaits you,” he added.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO