“Super Typhoon Yolanda began wrecking destruction in our municipality at 6:00 am of November 8, 2013.” Pastrana Mayor Ernesto N. Martillo remembers. “It lasted for four hours: it was all over by 11:00 am.”
Yet a few hours would be all it took. As Mayor Ernesto explains:
“Most of the houses were damaged: 393 were partially, and the rest entirely. That night, the residents slept under ‘the roof of the sky’ since their houses had no roofs anymore. Later, some made temporary roofs out of coconut and banana leaves.
But that first night, you could hear children crying: the mood at the time was very sad. At that moment, we felt hopeless, that there were no miracles left.
Our town was almost totally isolated. We didn’t have enough fuel for our cars, so for a week, we ate one one meal each day. The people suffered from hunger – especially the children.
More than 90% of the coconut trees were destroyed. The people here have no source of income. Their clothes were filthy already…
I can still recall that we even said that there was no God anymore because of our terrible and difficult situation.
The rice got wet from the rain. It’s a good thing that we kept 100 sacks of rice inside the municipal hall which we distributed to the people. At that time, there are no more rich or poor people. Everyone lined up to get food.
After one week, the roads became passable. Some of the 3,000 families who took shelter in schools were transferred here in the municipal hall, especially the children, because it was freezing out there.
The people were like zombies in The Walking Dead.
Of all the structures here, only the municipal hall survived the rage of the strong winds. We chose to be here even, if it we were packed in like sardines.
Many NGOs came here and helped us out, provided us with relief goods and gave us the job opportunity to work for them.
Then, the assistance from the national government came through the RAY DILG fund, for the rehabilitation of our municipal hall, public market and civic center. Since the local government had so many things to repair – from infrastructure, to our economy, and our livelihood – the RAY DILG fund gave us the means to begin our recovery programs. Otherwise, the LGU fund alone wouldn’t be able to cover the cost of all the rehabilitation works.
Our municipality was tested with the coming of Yolanda, but we have learned so much from it. Our experience will equip us on how we can move forward and recovery completely here in Pastrana.”