Baybay City, situated along the western coast of Leyte province, also experienced the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
City Mayor Carmen L. Cari shared that before the landfall of the typhoon, they had forced evacuations and communicated to her people, even through Cable TV.
“I announced the typhoon’s (impending arrival) twice. The first time, I was in a meeting with other disaster council members and I had it shown through television. We expressed our concern about Yolanda and asked the people to prepare water and flashlights. I remember hearing a joke that they should buy flashlights because mayor told them so. When they arrived at the store, the flashlights were already out of stock.
The second broadcast was the night before Yolanda. I still appealed to the people to evacuate. Because before that I had a conversation with the governor and Secretary Mar and they told me that this would be a very strong typhoon, even stronger than Typhoon Pablo. I told the people that if they will not evacuate, we cannot save them, because we cannot take the risk of exposing our rescuers to the brunt of the storm and have them die. Someone informed me after Yolanda that it was due to that final warning that most people were saved because they chose to evacuate,” Mayor Carmen shares.
Romulo Munez Jr., a resident of Baybay city and local basketball player, sees Yolanda was the worst storm he had ever experienced.
“The day after, when I first went out of the house to see the aftermath,” he remembers. “I was shocked to see the structures that were destroyed, electricity poles toppled… Even the biggest structures were damaged.”
This included the civic center. “It was badly damaged,” he says. “In case of rain, we have no choice but to stop whatever we were doing in the venue.”
RAY DILG funding
“(RAY DILG) funds were a big help because if the RAY fund were not there, we wouldn’t be able to rebuild that fast,” Mayor Carmen says.
“Our gymnasium (civic center) was destroyed in November, just before our town fiesta in December. We covered the roof with tarpaulins and large pieces of cloth as makeshift shelter.
“As for the public market, the water usually gets into the market when it rains and catches at the bottom level, leading to complaints from the tenants and market goers. Through the RAY funding, I also included that for the repairs. I had the flooring raised, as well as the water pipes and electrical concerns that were damaged: these are all repaired.”
“In the municipal hall, the damages were to the roof, but now repairs are already finished,” Mayor Carmen adds. “In future, we are also planning to construct a new City Hall far from the sea.”
For local residents like Romulo, the repaired civic center marks a return of regular everyday life.
“The civic center is the structure with the biggest indoor capacity in Baybay City. We play basketball here about twice a day, during lunch time and the evening,” he says. “It is the main pastime of the residents here. Even for women, there are Zumba sessions being held every night.”
With this repair, the needs of all members of the community are served, he believes.
“It is also available for use by students, they come here during evening for practices since the lighting is for free, unlike in the other towns,” he says. “They can stay until around 10:00 pm, even later as long as there are others still using the gym. People from all age groups get to use the civic center. It is not really scheduled by anyone, the people here just got used to having their activities here in the civic center. In this way, this has been part of our day-to-day life,” he added.