On the eastern side of Leyte province, the coastal municipality of Dulag faces the Leyte Gulf. The quiet, largely agricultural municipality found itself in the ‘midst of the storm’ during Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Manuel Sia Que, Dulag’s municipal mayor, recalls the devastating event:
“We were very much prepared here, in our LGU (municipality). I stayed in the municipal building until the typhoon arrived. I wasn’t able to go home because of the big winds.
Four days before the typhoon, a tornado happened here. There were around 71 houses that collapsed because of the tornado, and that was before Yolanda. (That’s why) I have no problem evacuating the people who live along the coastal barangay, because of the tornado.
The day before the Typhoon, I went to all the coastal barangays and informed them that they need to evacuate because the typhoon would not be ordinary, regular typhoon. I told them that the following things might happen: one, that there would be no more communication, no more electricity, no more food to eat, no more house to stay in. There might be a storm surge, and all your crops will be destroyed… It was only guessing, but it really did happen.
This was the first time I experienced such an incredible typhoon. During the middle the typhoon, the sun really did come out – and the rain stopped! The second time it struck, it was much worse, and took more than an hour before it stopped. Glass and debris were flying everywhere. I hid inside the municipal restroom. I was afraid that the glass would hit me.
In all of my life, I have never experienced such a thing. I will never forget that experience. I didn’t even know where my family was.
We had a storm surge, but it was not as high as what happened in Tacloban. Those who stayed in the coastal barangays remember seeing three big waves, coming from the Pacific Ocean. We face the Ocean here, and are prone to typhoons, but not landslides. Our problem here are typhoons, and sometimes, earthquakes. But we’ve never had anything like Yolanda.
As for the municipal hall, all of the roofing was blown away. All of the doors were blown away. Most of the glass was broken, like flying debris. If you went out to look at the wind, you would have been blown away.
The public market was flooded, up to here (knee-height). After three hours, it receded. No-one could use it anymore,” Mayor Manuel shares.
Aida P. Tacdog, a local market vendor, remembers that the typhoon as the most terrifying she had ever experienced.
“My family stayed inside the market stall. We weren’t able to go to the evacuation center. From children to adults, everyone was crying.
After the typhoon, it was my first time not to eat for a day. I didn’t feel hungry though maybe because of our terrifying experience.
It took time for us to receive relief goods. We just relied from the damaged products in the market. Some of the vendors gave their products which got wet,” Aida shares.
Life after the Typhoon
With support from RAY DILG funds, government infrastructure in the municipal hall were repaired. New roof sheets and ceiling were installed, electrical and painting works were done and new cabinets and partitions were built.
“Now that the market was repaired, we don’t experience leaks anymore with the new roofing when it rains. The roll up doors what were damaged were fixed also. We are in a comfortable and convenient situation already,” Aida shares.
“We experienced (Typhoon) Seniang: we had knee-deep water, during that time, and it destroyed a local bridge that took six months to repair.
The behavior of the people in response to disaster risk reduction is still slow to change, the Mayor believes.
“After 21 years in public service, everything I have done – everything I have built – my legacy, for the municipality, for the people here, was blown away by Yolanda. I have nothing to show them, for what I have done for them. That’s bad luck, but that’s the way that it is,” Mayor Manuel adds.