Madridejos, Cebu: My Journey To Bantayan Island After Typhoon Yolanda
No one ever knew a typhoon so destructive such as Yolanda (Haiyan) ever existed. Our beloved country, the Philippines, courageously braced Herself on the front lines of this catastrophic encounter. Nature’s unstoppable forces has waged war on our islands, hitting the islands of Visayas Region with massive strength. Big cities and small towns has fallen, including the paradise called Bantayan Island.
The statue of Immaculate Concepcion of the Madridejos Town Plaza left unscathed.
One of the uprooted trees in Madridejos Town Plaza.
Scraps and debris of houses along the roadside of Lawis.
Uprooted coconut trees blocks motorcycle access to a beach in Madridejos.
Sorrow filled the atmosphere on board the passenger ferry bound for Bantayan Island as the vessel set out from the Hagnaya Port passing by wrecks of fishing boats blown out by the strong winds into the sea. Tension got even higher as the ship approached the main entry point to the island, the Port of Santa Fe, as passengers look at the island’s famous white sanded beach (or what’s left of it) with grief.
Heartbreaking scenarios replaced the picturesque views along the highway connecting the three towns of Santa Fe, Bantayan, and the northernmost, Madridejos. Churches, public buildings and schools were heavily damaged, poultry farms, the thriving industry in Bantayan, were knocked down. Even worse, many were left homeless, food and water was scarce, electricity and communication was down and out. Typhoon Yolanda has brought Bantayan Island down to its knees.
A poultry farm devastated by the typhoon.
Chickens roaming around the kamalig’s roof
Hatchery chickens were sold cheap.
A kid bikes along a destroyed poultry farm.
Egg trays and boxes used in the poultry industry were placed inside homes.
Bantayanons, Lawisanons, and Santa Fe’s people fought hard to endure Typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught, sadly, some lives were lost. The survivors, on the other hand, were now facing another challenge – moving on and starting over. Bantayan, Santa Fe, and Madridejos listens to a chorale of roaring chainsaws, clinks and clanks of scrap metal, the thuds of hammer and nail. The whole island – its people, non-government organizations (NGO’s), and local government units (LGU’s) – work side by side by side to get their pieces back together and rise above the tragedy.
Cleaning up debris around Madridejos Town Plaza.
A farmer rebuilds the house of his chickens.
Doon sa may barrio
Like many other small baranggay’s in Madridejos, San Agustin wasn’t also spared from the unfortunate disaster. Homes were ravaged, farms toppled, elementary and secondary schools were heavily damage while those who withstood the storm were converted to evacuation centers. And similar to all communities of Bantayan Island, homes were being rebuilt, people go to work – life goes on.
A roofless day care center in Brgy. San Agustin of Madridejos.
Houses knocked down were temporarily covered with tarps, or anything that would shelter bodies from the cold windy nights.
Flashlights and the starlit sky illuminates the pitch black darkness in Bantayan Island
Trees were stripped off their leaves.
And this used to be a lush forest.
So was this place.
A reconstructed pig pen to provide temporary shelter.
According to the locals, water bills would cost zero until everything’s back to normal.
Wells have saved many from water scarcity.
My Personal Journey to Madridejos
Telecommunication towers and electricity in the whole island were still down. From outside Cebu, there was no way of establishing direct contact but to keep posted through the internet. Thanks to the NGO’s and volunteers from Bangon Madridejos and Bangon Bantayanons, who goes back and forth the island to ship relief goods and provide news regarding the conditions of Bantayan and its residents, among them was my father.
My dad’s humble ‘bahay kubo’ in Madridejos (photo from 2011).
After the typhoon.
It has been three days since we last made contact, and as day passed, our family was getting more worried about him, and many of our relatives in the island. As soon as we got word, roads were cleared, and ferries could ship passengers to Bantayan, my family sent me to check on the conditions. I arrived the next day and saw the homes who fell victim to the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda, including my father’s. My heart just sank in despair seeing my father’s home, and his small farm, his dream, scattered in rubble. Nevertheless, I’m more than contented just to see my father (and all our relatives) in one piece, and smiling.
We were scavenging materials which could still be used.
“Sige bye ang bahay ni Boy” this was my first day in Bantayan.
His office before I went back to Manila.
Yes, we, and many others in the community, suffered heavy damages. But the most important thing was, lives were spared. It may be a long and bumpy road to make the simple lives in the barrios back to normal again, but we will rebuild, start over and we begin today.
Today, we mourn for the good people we lost, tomorrow, we begin to once again make Bantayan Island a home to its people, and restore our so-called Eden once more. And I am more than willing and honored to help in my own little ways.
To All My Country Men
I am proud of my father, I am proud of the local community, I am proud of all Bantayanons, Lawisanons, and the people of Sta. Fe, I am proud the people behind the operations, I am proud of my fellow Filipinos who set their differences aside and worked together as one. I am proud of my Filipinos who kept their optimism, their hopes up, for they went on with their daily lives, amidst this tragic incident. We are Filipinos, we are strong, we will overcome the challenge brought upon us.
I want to acknowledge goodness of these people who gave shelter and food to my father at the height of the typhoon. My sincerest thanks to you all.
This post is dedicated not only to people of Bantayan, but to all the strong Filipinos. May we stand united as one and rebuild the foundations of our beloved country together.
2. Let us also pray and support our fellow men and women in Leyte, Samar, Capiz who suffered many losses during Typhoon Yolanda.
3. Thank you to the all the aid the Philippines is getting from all across the globe. I’m sure many Filipinos are grateful for your help.