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Typhoon Haiyan has left utter devastation in its wake




I had long wanted to write this message but my faltering physical condition prevented me from doing so. First of all, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the management for considering my request to take time off from work to check on the whereabouts of my siblings and their families in Leyte, which has has just been devastated by Typhoon Yolanda- known to the international community as Typhoon Haiyan.

Here is a short report of my experience during my absence from work:

November 10 – Sunday

I was alarmed by the news that Tacloban and other parts of Leyte were devastated by the storm. A niece from Canada also called to inform me that she heard from social media that one of my nephews and his wife had been missing. I was also very worried about my nephew’s mother who was living near the sports arena (astrodome) in Tacloban, where many people died when a storm surge hit the place.

Due to the absence of communication lines, I decided to leave Cebu for Baybay, Leyte in order to know what had become of my siblings and to do what I could to help, depending on the situation that was to present itself when I arrived. I could only hope for the best but I tried to prepare myself for the worst.

Using the small resources that I had at the time, I shopped for canned goods, coffee, milk, instant noodles, flashlight batteries, candles, oatmeal, and other items that are necessary in times of calamity. I arrived in Ormoc City at 9:30 PM. The city that used to be alive and bright at this hour was totally dark and silent.


Some fellow passengers expressed their fear of “robbers who openly rob people of their belongings even if somebody is looking.” I was thankful that nothing happened to me when I walked from the pier to the city entrance. I also felt lucky for having seen a bus bound for Maasin City at that very unlikely hour. I boarded the bus and texted Lyle Antonio about my situation. It was about that time that Globe restored its service in Ormoc City.

I arrived in Baybay City at about 1:00 AM and saw my nephew who was reported “missing”. He was talking to my sister about the situation of our sister in Tacloban. I gave him some food supplies and asked him to convince his mother to go to Baybay. Riding his motorcycle, he immediately left for Tacloban with the goods.

The Situation in Tacloban

According to my nephew, my sister, her youngest son, her daughter-in-law, her grandson and one other relative were inside their house at around 9 or 10 in the morning of November 8 when the storm hit their place. It was also about this time when the storm surge hit the coastal areas in Eastern Leyte. Sea water had gone upland, killing many people in its way. In my sister’s house, water had risen neck-deep before they were able to open the door to swim outside.

When they had gone out, water had reached their ceiling. They struggled through strong current, occasionally drinking some filthy, stinking water to be able to reach a three-storey building where they temporarily stayed during and after the storm. They were not able to salvage anything except for the clothes that they were wearing that day.


November 11 – Monday

I went to a mountain barangay where my father’s brother lives. I was surprised to see that everything was in place except for a giant tree that was taken down by the wind. The trip and the long walk up the mountain exhausted me.

Lori with the huge tree destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda

The effects of Yolanda’s fierceness began to unfold. Many people who went to the astrodome to take refuge were killed instead. In Eastern Leyte, dozens of dead men, women and children lay everywhere. As one saw in the news, trees and electric posts were lined up on the ground like discarded matchsticks.

Although several coconut trees remain standing, plenty of them are headless, as though some invisible giant hand had plucked their heads away from their bodies.

Debris was everywhere and entire communities were flattened to the ground. I have never seen a destruction of such magnitude in my entire life.

In an account my sister gave, she said that before she left Tacloban, grief, hunger, loss, and lamentation were evident, and people were walking to and fro with blank faces – like zombies caught up by the light of day. The only thing that’s certain at this point in Leyte are chaos and confusion.


November 12 – Tuesday

The resources that I brought from Cebu helped my relatives survive for at least two days. Hunger had driven people in Tacloban to go wild.

As Leyte became isolated and aid was delayed, people in Tacloban ransacked two supermarkets and they looted everything they could find. A baker was killed because he stayed in the way of the mob who wanted to take his bread. Even ATMs, appliances, and other valuable items were not spared. Fear for her own life prompted my sister to leave Tacloban for Baybay, where she arrived at about 2 AM. My younger brother who lives in Surigao City also arrived 3 hours later.

November 13 – Wednesday

The smell of death and rotten flesh was everywhere in Eastern Leyte. Hunger and security problems prompted residents to flee from their homes to seek safer places like Baybay, Ormoc, and Cebu. Looting continues and news of people being robbed, killed, and raped have spread across the province.

I left Baybay for Ormoc at 5 Am to be able to secure a boarding pass for my round-trip ticket on one of the Cebu-bound vessels. When I reached the pier, I saw that every ticketing office had long lines of people wanting to sail for Cebu. The weather was not good but the lines stayed in place.

I was one of the people who endured the long wait, but I was not so lucky because my ship was filled to capacity before I arrived at the ticket issuer to ask for my boarding pass. The heavy rain made me wet all over. The inns and pension houses in Ormoc had been taken. I had to go back to Baybay, but I didn’t have the chance to change my wet clothes with dry ones.


November 14 – Thursday

I decided to abandon my Baybay-Ormoc-Cebu trip and settled for a direct Baybay-Cebu ticket instead. But since Baybay has only one Cebu-bound vessel a day, the chance to secure a ticket is very slim. I went to the ticketing office at 5 AM, but people were already there waiting for the office to open.

I decided to stay in the line amidst the heat of the sun and the rain for about four hours, but since the ship was small, I was among those who were not able to buy a ticket due to a limited capacity. As I walked home, I started to feel weak, dizzy, and my legs began to shake. My walk home was a series of half-steps that I took slowly in order to stay upright. I almost fainted along the way, but I was happy to reach home and take a rest.

November 15 – Friday

I was down with fever, cough, cold, body aches, dizziness, burning sensation in the throat, back pain, and urinary tract infection (maybe triggered by the water I drunk). I just requested my sister to buy the ticket for me. She was able to book me a ticket for a November 17 trip.

November 16 – Saturday

I rested the whole day because I was still down and unable to stay upright for a long time.


November 17 – Sunday

I sailed for Cebu.

The storm has wiped out entire villages

November 18 – Monday

I arrived home at about 4am, still weak and groggy. I rested because of severe dizziness. In the morning, EJ texted to ask me if I can report for work, but since I was asleep, my wife responded and told EJ that I was sick and exhausted.

November 19 – Tuesday

I went to the doctor to ask for medication that could help to heal me from my ailment. He prescribed me with antibiotics (good for 7 days) and paracetamol (good for 4 days).

At this point, I also got disconnected from the Internet because our ISP (PLDT) has a technical problem.

November 20 – Wednesday

Continued to rest due to fever, cough and dizziness. My Internet connection was still down, but I made a follow up with the ISP’s customer service hotline from time to time.

November 21 – Thursday

I asked my neighbour to give me a temporary Internet connection through their Globe modem/router.

CARE has launched an appeal to urgently provide those affected with water, food and shelter. A donation of just $26 can provide food baskets for a family or $32 can provide materials for emergency shelter. To donate, please visit or call 1800 020 046.

Lori is a Filipino man who is passionate about nature and the simple life. He was born and raised in Leyte but he is currently residing in Cebu. He was connected with the shipping and ship repair industry for years, but his passion for writing has flared in retirement and has led him to writing for Mercurian Media, an Australian company.