There are many stories coming out about the devastation in Tacloban. Many of these stories are, frankly, very depressing.

We thought we would share something to make you feel good. Hopefully, this will open some eyes and inspire action. 

On November 9, we saw this post on Facebook (above).

Since then, Peter Borromeo found his way back to Cebu. He was in Tacloban when Yolanda hit. This is his story.

Thank you, Lord. I am alive.

I was in Tacloban the night before the typhoon, Thursday, Nov. 7. Staying at a pension house in San Jose, Tacloban City, less than a kilometer away from the airport. A few hours earlier, I informed my wife that I would be checking in at Consuelo Hotel, which is in the heart of the city, thinking that I could get a room.

Since I was a kid, I had experienced several typhoons starting in Calbayog in 1968 and again in Tacloban City in 1969. Since then I had experienced several typhoons and earthquakes in San Francisco and last of which was the strong earthquake that hit Bohol/Cebu wherein I was at home with the family. I thought that Yolanda was just like the past calamities that I had experienced. But to my surprise, at around 6 am of Nov. 8, when the typhoon was already hitting Tacloban, I realized that this was ten folds stronger than any that I had experienced in the past.

Suddenly, the roof of my hotel room flew away and I could see houses, cars and other heavy materials flying all over. I was holding on for my dear life with my right arm around a post in my hotel room and my rosary on my fingers. My left hand holding a pillow to cover my head for any flying objects that could hit me.

Praying the sorrowful mystery, knowing that it was a Friday. I prayed to our dear Lord for forgiveness for all the sins I have committed and further prayed to Sto. Nino for the people of Tacloban, who I knew were devotees of Sto. Nino. I also asked for the intervention of my late father to keep me safe . I also asked for the intercession of St. Josemaria. Knowing my wife, who was in a seminar, would be praying for me and the people of Tacloban, gave me hope that we would be able to survive. At the height of the typhoon and while praying I also asked the Lord (though I should not have done) why all of this was happening.

Knowing that the speed of the typhoon was moving at 30 km per hour, this crisis would be over in 3 to 4 hours. So there I was hanging on for my life and continued praying. When it stopped, I met the guests of the other hotels and we saw the great damage. Four of their vehicles floating in the bay and a dead body hanging at the back of my room. Most of us walked together towards the city and saw the great devastation. I remembered the pictures of New Orleans and Davao, but what I saw was much much more. I saw dead bodies, cars, trucks, pieces of housing materials on top of each other plus the roads were all flooded all the way to the city. It was also then that we realized that there was a water surge in the city proper as high 2 to 3 meters.


We continued walking around the main commercial center of Tacloban looking for stores from which to buy food or a communication center to be able to contact our families or other hotels where we could stay or even transportation which could bring us out of the City. After hours of doing so, we realized none of these were available and in fact most of the hotels which were opened the night before were heavily damaged and had to be vacated.

I remembered passing by the Redemptorist Church earlier and knowing that it has always been our second home because in Cebu we live just a block away. I decided to stay there together with all the other homeless people whose homes were blown away. There I would have my humbling experience seeing these people without shelter, food and water, but still happy to announce and to thank God that they had survived. You would not hear them complaining of the material things that they lost. They still continued to thank the Lord that they were still alive. You would of course see some people crying because they lost some members of their family, but they did not complain to the Lord and ask why it happened to them.

For two nights I stayed in my second home, which is the Redemptorist Church while during the day, I continued going to the airport which is around 7 kilometers away to check for available planes out and also went downtown to check for other means of transportation so I could go out, but to no avail. There was no food available except for limited water and my small bottle of holy water, which my wife Joy always asks me to carry. So I would use the Holy Water to wipe my lips and the effect of it was as if I had a liter because it would suffice for the whole day!

While I was on my second night at the Redemptorist Church, a lady who was all alone gave birth with the assistance of people she never knew. Fortunately a military doctor assisted her and later a good samaritan passed by with a vehicle and accepted the request of bringing the lady to the Regional Hospital for check up after giving birth. After an hour she was brought back to the church with her crying baby and everybody rejoiced.

On my third day, Nov. 10, Sunday, I was already so tired and hungry. It felt like my body was giving up, but I continued going around the city while it was raining looking for food and transportation out and stopped at every possible shade. Without my knowing, I was already at the doorsteps of the home of the Montejos. Nikki saw me and invited me in to take a rest. There I met the ever smiling Mana Lily Montejo, who heartily welcomed me to join them for breakfast and to stay with them. I was so grateful to God for sending me to a place at the moment that I needed rest and food. God in his providence arranges our lives so well, in order to help us.

On the third day, while resting in the home of the Montejos, and I knew that I already survived the ordeal. My worry was more on our inability to communicate with our families and I already imagined that they thought that I would be among the casualties. Unfortunately, there was really no way for me to contact Joy and the kids so I just prayed that somehow Joy would feel that I was alive and well. In the hopes that they would not worry so much.

On the 4th day, November 11, Monday, I felt better. After a generous breakfast with Mrs. Lily Montejo, Bobby, Mrs. Leonor Almeria and Mrs. Luz Mate, I decided to walk to the airport with the hope of taking a military or commercial flight back to Cebu. While walking, I again saw the dead bodies and the wreckage along the way. By 10 am I was already at the badly damaged airport terminal building and to my relief, I saw Pal express and Cebu Pacific Planes parked. I joined the long line to buy a Pal express ticket and after 6 hours. I was able to get a ticket scheduled at 7 am the following day, Nov. 12.

At the airport terminal, I saw people from all walks of life trying to get a space for the free military flights or the commercial flights. Those scheduled to take the flights the following day decided to stay overnight at the badly damaged building and go through the heavy rains that poured overnight without sleep.

Finally, I was able to take the first Pal Express flight out at around 7 30 am. I thank God! My prayers to the people left behind. I hope they could also depart or survive.

peter borromeo

I thank all of you who prayed together with my family for my survival and for the people of Tacloban. Specifically Anderson Cooper of CNN, who contacted my daughters after reading their posts in FB. Through CNN a lot of our friends were able to join my family in praying for all of us in Tacloban. I would also like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Benito Gaisano. Mayor Mike Rama and Atty. Joy Pesquera, all the faithful of Opus Dei, Lilian Chan for the ERUF, the Montejo Family, Banana Clan, the Borromeo Clan, the Ventulans and all our dear friends and the friends of our children CARLO, PETER JOSEPH, DANIEL, MARIELLE AND KATSY and KATRINA for all the prayers love concern and support they have given me and my family all throughout this great ordeal. Let us keep on praying for all the people in Leyte and all other provinces affected by this calamity.

*Katsy wanted to also say thank you to Redcross and Dr. Kenneth Chan of ERUF, Kari and Elisa of CNN, Tecson Lim, Joba Botana, Philip Lapinid, Leslie Reyes, Meyen Baguio, Cecille Quibod, Celine Cornejo, Kathryn and Tonette Veloso, Mariana Lopa, Carissa Codilla, Gizela Salimbangon, Karl Racaza, Johann Young, Ria Alazas, Ronna Rojas, Stephanie Santiago, Gerard Montejo, Mia Munoz, Anna Igpit, Cecille Quibod, Tito Nestor, Emi Zalavaria Sandy Chiongbian, Laurice Chiongbian, Jessica Borromeo, Annie Borromeo and Neil Montejo.

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