A year after Yolanda struck, the physical and psychological pain of what my family went through remains.
My family was almost wiped out on the night of November 8. They survived only because they drew strength from their will to live.
My parents and siblings survived, but Yolanda changed their lives forever.
My niece and nephews have been scarred by the trauma of trying to stay alive as the floodwaters surged around them. It took months before the smiles returned to their faces. There were rainy nights when my four-year-old niece woke up, frightened by the downpour.
Even a knee-level flood alarmed them.
I made it a point to help banish Yolanda from their young minds. I brought them to places where they can forget the nightmare.
I eventually enrolled my niece and nephews in an elementary school in Pasig City and they have adapted well to their new surroundings.
My elder brother, Randy, did not adjust as quickly. He had fallen into depression. He had lost his home, and watched as the storm surge almost swept his family away.
For about two months, he refused to leave the apartment we rented in Pasig.
He snapped out of his hopelessness only after realizing that he has to be strong for his family, especially his daughter who suffers from a serious heart illness.
A cousin of mine lent him money to start a small vegetable business.
Last February, my mother and younger sister went home to Tacloban to be with my father and my younger brother who went ahead.
My younger brother is now a fourth year accountancy student at the Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU).
Our house in San Jose district in Tacloban had been leveled by the storm surge so Father erected a tent donated by an international agency.
Before that, he slept in a hut house made of discarded tarpaulin and lumber provided by non-government organizations (NGOs).
We are building a new house, in a safer location.
Seven months after the storm, my parents told me that life in Tacloban was still as hard as the first days after Yolanda.
On August I returned to Tacloban. Nothing had changed. Thousands were still packed in tent cities, bunkhouses were unoccupied and many residents still relied on meager donations from the government.
Thousands are still homeless.
Despite it all, I’m thankful we conquered the storm. My family went through hell and high water, and survived.