As with many affected regions, during the hours before Yolanda reached Sebaste, Antique, the weather was surprisingly calm and clear.
“People were asking each other whether the typhoon had hit us already,” Leonaris D. Dionela, a local planning officer, remembers. “No one wanted to believe that it could affect us in such a way.”
Yet when Yolanda hit, “the strength of the typhoon was unbelievable, and totally unexpected,” Leonaris says. “Almost everyone cried at the surreal situation we had found ourselves in.”
‘The Malacañang of Antique’
At the local municipal hall, roof, ceilings and windows were extensively damaged. In the immediate aftermath, despite seeing client files, computers and office equipment destroyed, staff were tasked with continued efforts to provide basic post-disaster services.
“It was difficult time,” Leonaris says. “At that time, if it was raining outside, it was raining inside also.”
Yet since then, as Vice Mayor Noracil B. Azucena explains, the municipal hall has had a total make-over.
“Our clients commend our new municipal building. People here were surprised and delighted to see the improvement in our municipal hall. It’s very unique and more beautiful,” the Vice Mayor adds.
With a spacious ground floor area, municipal employees can now provide a more comfortable space for visitors. Others described how having a more presentable office gives them greater confidence at work, and how employees, especially those in the Treasurer and Accessor’s office, need no longer work in overcrowded spaces.
“Now it seems like I am working in Malacañang… The Malacañang of Antique,” Leonaris says, cheerfully.
“These bright and spacious offices have had a positive impact on us here,” Vice Mayor Noracil adds. “We need this positive and uplifting vibe, especially after what our community experienced during Yolanda, the worst typhoon in Antique.”