Could you survive if everything you had would be gone forever? When there is no turning back, would you be able to live?

Guilt struck me knowing I had so much while others were barely getting by. No one was to blame, but I felt compelled to look for ways to make it even.

I was not emotional when we visited the Haiyan survivors seven months after the disaster. Don’t get me wrong, I usually wear my heart on my sleeve. But when we went back to Tacloban, it wasn’t how I imagine it. The survivors weren’t desperate to move out or crying for help. Thanks to all the countries, organizations, and individuals who responded to the tragedy, people aren’t as desperate as we all thought they would be.

helping taclobanWhen I was there, people were trying their best to live as normal as possible as best as they could. Interesting enough, they had a singing contest that night we arrived. They even invited us to make a guest appearance. Who wouldn’t want to add to their joy? Of course, we obliged.

I was not emotional because instead my thoughts were on how we could avoid this from ever happening again? Can we prevent it from coming back? What can we do to prepare ourselves in order for it not to unleash as much damage? Or maybe, no damage at all.

I couldn’t sleep that night. Not because I sang in front of so many survivors, but because all these thoughts and questions kept my brain worked up.

Seven months after the disaster, there are areas that have recovered, are currently recovering and even areas that haven’t even started the recovery process yet. The disaster was like a thief in the night, one swift blow that lasted only a few hours, but will take years to fully recover from.

It’s a sad event, but take heart, the survivors are determined to live their lives once again. They just need a small push from the outside to make it happen.

*To donate, you can contact the Local Government Unit of Alang-alang, Leyte. You can communicate to Lovell Yu (09081674520). Until now, they still do not have internet. Please take note that ZeroThreeTwo is not associated with the charity mission. We are just sharing their story.

The thousand cranes made, by the youth leaders from ASEAN and Japan, made it to the hands of these survivors. The cranes are a symbol of hope in Japanese culture.

The thousand cranes made, by the youth leaders from ASEAN and Japan, made it to the hands of these survivors. The cranes are a symbol of hope in Japanese culture.

This boy said that they did their best to find a place to hide during the disaster. Luckily, they found shelter somewhere. If not they would have been gone together with their house.

This boy said that they did their best to find a place to hide during the disaster. Luckily, they found shelter somewhere. If not they would have been gone together with their house.

She must have lost all her shoes and slippers during the storm. It was sunny when we visited them and she was wearing those boots.

She must have lost all her shoes and slippers during the storm. It was sunny when we visited them and she was wearing those boots.

Malah, the girl wearing the black shirt is a Muslim. She was the only Muslim girl we met that day. She wanted to learn how to make these cranes and wanted to teach her other siblings after.

Malah, the girl wearing the black shirt is a Muslim. She was the only Muslim girl we met that day. She wanted to learn how to make these cranes and wanted to teach her other siblings after.

It is very encouraging to see the kids laugh and pose for our camera. Their smiles just assured us that they are more than ready to face another day.

It is very encouraging to see the kids laugh and pose for our camera. Their smiles just assured us that they are more than ready to face another day.

We gathered the kids from Gawad Kalinga so we could have tons of laughs and smiles with them. We played fun games and did painting therapy with them.

We gathered the kids from Gawad Kalinga so we could have tons of laughs and smiles with them. We played fun games and did painting therapy with them.

The kids waving goodbyes as we started driving back to the town proper. We rode in an army truck that day. Their area is the farthest barangay in the town of Alang-alang, Leyte. Seven months after the disaster they still have no electricity. We went there to distribute solar powered lamps.

The kids waving goodbyes as we started driving back to the town proper. We rode in an army truck that day. Their area is the farthest barangay in the town of Alang-alang, Leyte. Seven months after the disaster they still have no electricity. We went there to distribute solar powered lamps.

The gallant army soldiers who came with us that afternoon. The barangay we visited was 3 hours away from the town proper. They were the kindest soldiers we've ever met.

The gallant army soldiers who came with us that afternoon. The barangay we visited was 3 hours away from the town proper. They were the kindest soldiers we’ve ever met.

He was the only kid wearing shoes that day. I wonder whether he got it from the relief goods or it is one of his few remaining possessions.

He was the only kid wearing shoes that day. I wonder whether he got it from the relief goods or it is one of his few remaining possessions.

These three boys didn't join our games and painting program. They had to sell ice candies. I bought their ice candies and they walked away dancing.

These three boys didn’t join our games and painting program. They had to sell ice candies. I bought their ice candies and they walked away dancing.

We were not told that we would end up singing, "Let It Go" as soon as we arrived. I felt like an inspirational singer when we sang the part, "the storm never bothered you anyway". Certainly.

We were not told that we would end up singing, “Let It Go” as soon as we arrived. I felt like an inspirational singer when we sang the part, “the storm never bothered you anyway”. Certainly.

We helped out in the Bayani Challenge. Building Gawad Kalinga houses for the Haiyan victimes.

We helped out in the Bayani Challenge. Building Gawad Kalinga houses for the Haiyan victimes.

After seven months, this is still the situation of their town proper.

After seven months, this is still the situation of their town proper.

 

 

 

Riezl Manatad

Our globetrotting writer is currently in Indonesia (as far as we can tell). She’s living it up and pursuing her traveling dreams.

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