By Kristine Felva P. Licup and Princess T. Abellon
HUNDREDS OF KILOMETERS away from their homes, Sillimanians from Samar and Leyte had no other choice but to pray for their loved ones when super typhoon Yolanda first arrived in Guiuan, Samar last Friday, Nov. 8.
Believed to be the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in world history, Yolanda hit the provinces of Samar and Leyte, washing out towns, destroying houses and killing at least 10,000 people.
Tacloban, the capital city of Leyte, was one of the most devastated areas after strong winds caused the rise of water level of the two seas that were surrounding the city.
As the horror happened, Waray Sillimanians were at their respective boarding houses and dormitories, pleading, crying and praying hard that their families be spared of the danger brought by Yolanda.
President of Leyte-Samar Sillimanites (LeySam) Jaydee Discar from Tacloban City was with some of her Kababayang Sillimanians (KabSi) when it all happened. Finding comfort and drawing strength from each other, Discar said they chose to stick together as they watched the news.
Discar thought because her hometown is known to be the pathways of most typhoons that they were ready to face Yolanda head on. But as news start to break in, she prepared herself for the worst while still hoping for the best.
“I felt the utter despair and anguish for my hometown especially because I was there from the recent semestral break . . . it will never be normal again,” she said.
With power and communication lines cut off, it took three days before she knew that her family was safe and alive.
“As each day unfolded, more and more updates from the media kept popping. These made us more desperate and hopeless,” recalled Discar. “But thank you to the efforts of the Silliman counseling team and pastoral team. They assured us that we are not alone. This really helped us.”
Like Discar, Psychology student Dennise Mari Malinao only heard from her family last Monday, Nov. 11. “Those three days that I haven’t received any text or call from my family, I felt like going crazy,” she said. Malinao said having no idea on how her family was doing was very hard. She slept at 2 a.m. with tears on her eyes and woke up at 5 a.m. only to cry some more. Whenever her phone rang, she always wished the text or the call was from her family and when she found out it wasn’t, she cried of disappointment.
“When my friends from LeySam told me their families have already contacted them and told them they’re safe and I still didn’t have any contact with my family, I really thought I’ll go crazy,” said Malinao. Finally, on Monday morning, her sister called. They are all safe and alive. Malinao’s family owns a rice mill so she is assured that her family has something to eat. What she is afraid of now is the danger that looters bring.
Because people are hungry and food is not readily available, others turn to violence just to satisfy their hunger. Reports say that armed men ransack stores like Gaisano Mall and Robinsons in Tacloban and kill residents of houses left standing to get stored food and take over their houses. That’s why Mass Communication student from Tacloban Jae Jireh Nejudne’s family, including their dog Summer, decided to leave Tacloban for good after living there for a year and a half. “They’ll transfer here in Dumaguete. We believe it will take a long time for Leyte to recover and our house was really destroyed,” Nejudne said.
Unlike Nejudne’s house, only the garage roofing and their helpers’ rest room of Civil Engineering student Ramon Luis Ang’s house in Naval, Leyte were destroyed. But despite the minimal damage, Ang’s family will soon leave the house where he grew up in.
But for Discar, what she’ll miss most is the normal days she spent in her hometown because after Yolanda’s havoc, she said heartbreaking as it is, “it will never be normal again.”