For some in the small town of Barugo, Leyte, Yolanda brought about memories of a time from almost two decades earlier: of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Undang.

Teofilo Glenn M. Avestroz Jr., the local municipal engineer, was in the municipal building both in the days leading up to Yolanda, and as it struck.

Barugo Municipal Engineer Teofilo Glenn Avestroz, Jr
Barugo Municipal Engineer Teofilo Glenn Avestroz Jr.

“I slept at around 11:00 pm on November 7, then I woke up at 4:00 am the next day when our mayor arrived,” he says. “Since we couldn’t sleep, I decided to cook up porridge for the evacuees. We were still able to deliver some of it to two local schools, which were being used as evacuation centers.

“Then, at around 6:30 am, Yolanda arrived. The typhoon was very strong. I saw how the trees were twisted and broken. The last time I have experienced a strong typhoon was in 1984 during Typhoon Undang,” he remembers.

Damage to local industries

This northern coastal municipality is more commonly known for its delicious roscas  (pastries made of flour,sugar, eggs and shortening).

Yet the damage wrought by Typhoon Yolanda would significantly affect local market vendors, including some of the municipality’s most famed local bakers: the Barugo Food Delicacies Producers Association, located on the second floor of the public market.

“We have twelve members here from the different districts of Barugo,” Susana A. Villaflor, the association’s vice president, explains.

Barugo baker and market vendor Susana A. Villaflore
Barugo baker and vendor Susana A. Villaflor

“When Yolanda arrived, the roof above our store was damaged. Our equipment inside the shop were displaced, due to the strong winds. We used whatever ingredients were left. It took time, since at first, people had no money to buy our products,” she says.

Recovering with RAY DILG

“It was more than a month before our business operations returned to normal,” Susana says. “Then,the following year, our market was repaired with the assistance from RAY DILG. These repairs were very helpful to us because we cannot have leaks on our roof as it hampers our operations. Plus, it is not safe, especially as we have ovens and baking equipment.”

The Barugo Food Delicacies Producers Association
The Barugo Food Delicacies Producers Association

“Now, we are safe in our shop, most especially our products,” she says. “The look of our market was also improved. I also noticed that there are now new vendors here, especially at the ground level. Our sales have also increased.”

At the local civic center and municipal hall, repairs have also led to vast improvements. “The repair of our civic center was beneficial, as it is used as a storage for relief goods,” Teofilo says. “In the municipal building, roof repairs mean that our work isn’t stalled when it rains: our operations can continue on, unaffected.”

After Yolanda

“Two typhoons since then- Ruby and Seniang – were different from Yolanda,” Teofilo says. “We experienced eighteen hours of rain during Ruby. Typhoon Seniang also brought with it heavy rainfall, which flooded our town.

“The weather now is very unpredictable. We have two great enemies each time there’s a typhoon: storm surge or floods, and strong winds,” he says.

Yet “our Typhoon Yolanda experience has served as great learning for the community,” he adds. “Now, whenever there’s news of a typhoon, we prepare and secure everything to avoid a major disaster.”


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