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Stories from the Field: Surviving Super Typhoon Yolanda

It seemed that God had turned his back on us that month. To anyone else it would just be another November. To me, it was the month Typhoon Yolanda came.

My family and I were vacationing in Cebu. We were from a different part of Visayas and we were visiting some relatives. We knew that there was going to be a typhoon. When you live in the middle part of the Philippines, it’s pretty much a common occurrence during rainy seasons. So we didn’t postpone our trip and we went ahead.

The sky was gray but that wasn’t anything out of the usual. It was windy, yes, but it was tolerable. Nothing truly indicating that it was to be the disaster it became. Our government had assured us that the storm was large but should not be anything too damaging. The local government had also assured us that we merely needed to bunker in and wait the storm out. It wasn’t very comforting given that two weeks earlier, a quake had struck. Still, we believed them. They should know, right? They’re the government.

Then early in the morning there was an unearthly howling heard. The roof of the sturdy house we were in was shaking as if the wind itself had claws—trying to carve its way in. I wanted to peer through the windows but they were covered in boards that were hammered in to keep as much of the debris out as possible. I remember the howling becoming louder and louder. I remember the room shaking but not much else after. I vaguely remember the feeling of rain on my skin. It was a chill that kissed my very bones. My memories of what followed are shot. I only remember snippets.

typhoon - Stories from the Field: Surviving Super Typhoon Yolanda

What I know is that the home we were in was destroyed. I knew where I was—buried under some rubble of the wall that used to be a bedroom. I remember knowing that my family should be nearby but they weren’t. I know that someone pulled me out from under the wreckage but I don’t know who and I don’t know when. I was told that it was medical teams from Davao City who had tirelessly labored and tried to find as many of us as they could.

I lost my brothers that day. I lost cousins and aunts as well. Days before I was surrounded by a loving family. Now, there was only me.

I thank whoever it was who rescued me. I understood that if it wasn’t for the swift actions of a certified first responder’s squad, I would have joined my family in death. I never knew how much could change in the span of a month.

“Lucky” is what they call me. I don’t know if such a title can aptly describe what I am. I am a daughter without a mother. I am a sister without her brothers. This tragedy is etched in my soul. That and knowing that I was saved by people I will never know.