Capiz Province

The Capiz provincial hall is a pre-war building and one of the strongest buildings in the province. Yet during Yolanda, much of the roof, ceilings and windows were damaged.

Capiz Province Capitol Building
Capiz Provincial Capital Building – July 2015

It was there that Victor A. Tanco Sr., public servant for more than 45 years and current governor of Capiz province, spent the days before, during and after Yolanda.

It was also within the Capitol Building that the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC), established two years prior to Yolanda, held command to support the widespread disaster relief effort.

The Governor emphasized how “we were prepared, we were listo (alert)!” to help limit the suffering of those affected.

Capiz Govenor Victor A. Tanco Snr
Capiz Governor Victor A. Tanco Sr.

“We decided to establish the command center in the provincial hall so that there would be no breakdown in governance and response teams,” he explained. “During Yolanda, we continued working, even while the rain poured in.”

RAY DILG funds capitol building repairs

Repairs to the provincial capitol building, funded by the RAY DILG program, proved morale boosting to local government employees, their clients and local citizens.

“If we had had to use our own finances, it would be much more difficult to rebuild our provincial hall and stadium,” the Governor shared.

Villareal Stadium

Basketball games in the rehabilitated Villereal Stadium - Roxas City, Capiz
Basketball games in the rehabilitated Villareal Stadium.
Courtesy: Capiz Provincial Press Bureau

Capiz Provincial Engineer Lennet Sodusta.
Capiz Provincial Engineer Lennet Sodusta.

Villareal Stadium is the largest stadium in the Western Visayas. Lennet L. Sodusta, the engineer in-charge of the venue, remembers how in the days leading up to Yolanda, a large-scale national convention could be comfortably accommodated within the stadium grounds.

Yet the Super Typhoon devastated many of the stadium facilities, this included its roofing, windows and doors. Much of the roofing above of the bleachers where spectators watch track-and-field were also affected as well as the swimming pool area.

Soon after release of RAY DILG funds, repairs began. With improved seating capacity and a sturdier construction for the safety of its patrons, the gymnasium now features once again as the leading sports venue in Capiz province.

 

Tapaz

The municipality of Tapaz, situated inland in the western part of Capiz, is home to 58 barangays , some in remote, mountainous areas. Conscious of the need to disseminate information far and wide, municipal Mayor Rosemary F. Gardose sought to prepare the community early as Super Typhoon Yolanda approached.

Tapaz Mayor Rosemary F. Gardose
Tapaz Mayor Rosemary F. Gardose

“We have a municipal risk and disaster office,” she explains, “and this meant that we were able to make the people in our community aware of what was happening. I think that’s why we had so few casualties: only two, a very young child, and one very old person.”

Instead of the coastal storm surges often associated with Typhoon Yolanda, the municipality experienced widespread damage as a result of the typhoon’s gale force winds.

At the local market, where many go to purchase food supplies for themselves and their families, entire sections had collapsed. “The roof fell down over my stall,” explained Heidi A. Ga’an, herself a vendor for over two decades. “Then many of my products (shoes and clothing) were stolen.”

We all really learned

With support from RAY DILG funds, the public market has since been repaired. For vendors like Heidi, the changes have been a step in the right direction. “The space is bigger, and more organized,” she says. “We also now have more space for our products. It feels more resilient.”

Local market vendor Heidi A. Ga’an
Local market vendor Heidi A. Ga’an

“Yolanda was the strongest typhoon I ever experienced,” she adds. “We really learned from it. That’s why when Typhoon Ruby arrived, we really prepared and secured all our products.”

The municipality has also established broader and more resilient communications practices after Yolanda, providing additional cell phones and radios to barangays  – especially to those upland and other remote areas.

“After Yolanda, we had Ruby, but we were much more prepared,” Mayor Rosemary adds. “We didn’t have to really tell our community: ‘you need to evacuate!’ They just did. We also have our disaster volunteers who spread out, along the flood-prone barangay  areas: they have their own equipment, their own preparations, their own initiatives after the experience of the super typhoon.”

 

Sapian

In Capiz, the small coastal town of Sapian was among those hardest hit by Yolanda. Among the ten barangays  that make up the municipality, an estimated 5,000 families – or some 24,000 people – were affected in the super typhoon’s immediate aftermath.

Marlyn O. Arcangeles, a local ukay-ukay  vendor, remembers how in the days prior, officials from the DRRMC roamed around the town with a sound system, announcing the expected arrival of typhoon Yolanda.

Retired local teacher Renato Roldan
Retired local teacher Renato Roldan

Retired teacher Renato Roldan shared similar memories of that time. “The team from the DRRMC drove along the shore and advised the people to go to the highlands, as the area is prone to storm surge.”

As Yolanda neared, some local residents first evacuated to the Sapian civic center. Yet it could not withstand the sheer force of Yolanda: fearing for their lives, evacuees then fled into a nearby elementary school. Yet the super typhoon would destroy even this secondary evacuation point.

Terrified,“we had nowhere to go,” Roberto D. Opino Jr. said.

Changes – some, for the better

There was no question that the town of Sapian has been forever changed by the events of Yolanda.

Local market vendor Marlyn O. Arcangeles.
Local market vendor Marlyn O. Arcangeles

In the nearby public market, the roof was significantly damaged. Yet, as Marlyn describes, “after the rehabilitation, it became more convenient for us to work here.” The roof has since been repaired, and made more structurally resilient. On market days, volantes vendors often visit from other towns: added aisles and better stall arrangements now mean these groups can now be comfortable accommodated in the shared space.

The newly-repaired civic center is also now a more spacious and convenient space for local patrons.

“There is no civic center like this in the whole of Capiz,” Roberto says, proudly. “It is one of a kind.” Since Yolanda, meetings, gatherings, weddings and graduations have been held in this unique venue.

Hagupit: A test of resilience

The following year, with the impending arrival of Typhoon Ruby, the civic center would again serve as an evacuation center: its first test of resilience, since the rehabilitation. The citizens of Sapian prepared as best they could.

Local farmer Roberto D. Opino Jnr
Local farmer Roberto D. Opino Jr.

“When Typhoon Ruby came, the people were more prepared and more alert. Everybody immediately cooperated with the evacuation. The trauma that Yolanda left us with served as a lesson to us, so that people are now more cooperative,” Roberto says.

Most importantly, the citizens of Sapian remained safe and protected within the repaired structure. “At that time, the structure was not damaged, which shows that it is more typhoon resilient,” he added.

 

Roxas City

For engineer Ardieli A. Ambrosio, the lessons of Super Typhoon Yolanda will remain with the community of Roxas City for a lifetime.

By November 6, those in the coastal areas had already received orders to evacuate. “Even though we have experienced other signal number 3 typhoons, the last time I’d experienced a typhoon like Yolanda was in 1984, with Typhoon Undang,” he remembers.

Municipal engineer Ardieli A. Ambrosio
City Engineer Ardieli A. Ambrosio

“Some of the areas in Roxas City were flooded, but not so much in the city proper,” he says. Instead, it was the powerful winds that would see an estimated ninety percent of the roofs in the city hall, public market and civic center destroyed.


 

At the local market, Rainier M. Cargando, market supervisor, remembers the impact of the damage. “With no roof, when it rains outside, it rains inside,” he says. “We’d receive complaints from the vendors, as this would damage the goods that make up their livelihood. In the rice section especially, everything would get wet.”

Market supervisor Rainier M. Cargando poses with vendors in the newly-rehabilitated Roxas City public market
Market supervisor Rainier M. Cargando poses with vendors in the newly-rehabilitated Roxas City public market

City engineers were tasked with preparing the repair works to follow.

“Right after Yolanda, we prepared for the budget costing,” Ardieli explains. “We were uncertain whether we’d have enough for rehabilitation, given the widespread impact and immediate need. Then we learned about the funding assistance from RAY DILG.”

Post-Yolanda rehabilitation

The newly-rehabilitated Roxas City Civic Center - July 2015
The newly-rehabilitated Roxas City Civic Center – July 2015

In the city hall, a new roof, gutter and ceiling were installed, and downspouts replaced to better prevent leaks in the building during heavy rains.

When Typhoon Ruby arrived (in December 2014), the city hall served as one of our evacuation centers,” Ardieli explains. Later, the center would be used to house those who lost their homes during the disaster. “For fifteen days, we placed them in the civic center until such time that we could provide them with more permanent shelter.”

At the market, recovery would take some more time, as vendors had first to repair their houses before returning to their stalls. Fortunately, a more sustained recovery has allowed time for more resilient measures to be established, says Rainier.

Roxas City public market

“We are used to typhoon signal number 3 so we assumed that we can withstand Yolanda,” he says. “Now we’ve learned, and have ensured that our houses are stronger in preparation for future calamities.”

President Roxas

It was like the world had ended.”

That’s how Menche Franciso, a feeds and rice vendor from President Roxas, Capiz, describes the arrival of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

“We were told about it, but didn’t expect it to be that strong,” he says. “We experienced big losses in areas of business, livelihood, housing – almost everything.”

Meche Francisco - Rice and Feeds Vendor - President Roxas public market
President Roxas market vendor Menche Franciso

The local civic center had served as a preassigned evacuation center. Most of those who sought refuge there were those from hard-hit coastal areas, Joseph D. Fabian, the center’s caretaker, explains.

“I was in the civic center at that time,” he remembers. “I helped the local government and the evacuees. I witnessed how the roof was slowly ripped away… Children were crying. It was a crazy experience because the evacuees would move to a new area of the facility as each section of the roof was being destroyed above them.”

President Roxas Civic Center caretaker Joseph D. Fabian
President Roxas Civic Center caretaker Joseph D. Fabian

Those whose homes had been destroyed would stay in the center for more than a week afterwards, Joseph says. Others, like vendor Menche, would returning to the significantly-damaged market to clean up, and continue selling the few products that remained.

The nearby municipal hall  also sustained significant damage. As Ramon G. Burgos explains, the impact of this was longer-term. “Since most of the roof and ceiling were damaged, the employees jam-packed into the sections that survived,” he says. “It was very difficult to work, with such a large number of employees in such a small area.”

President Roxas Municipal Engineer Ramon G. Burgos
President Roxas Municipal Engineer Ramon G. Burgos

Life post-Yolanda

Hermy E. Rolete, an area coordinator of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), explains how the civic center is vital to the department’s effective function in the municipality.

“Once the center was repaired, we could use it for a number of our activities,” he says. “As we are one of the distributing agencies for Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) funds, we conduct all our consultations and forums here. We also use this space to gather our volunteers together for documentation training,” he adds.

Area co-ordinator Hermy E. Rolete, of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
Area coordinator Hermy E. Rolete, of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

With a new roof and ceiling installed in the nearby municipal hall, staff can now enjoy the comfortable and presentable space, engineer Ramon says. “We even added more offices to accommodate our employees and avoid overcrowding.”

At the market, “I am satisfied with the repairs done,” Menche says. “Aside from us (the vendors), even our customers say that it’s a more comfortable space to run their market errands in. This is important, since aside from those from town proper, the market also caters to our people from the upland barangays , even other nearby municipalities.”

Pontevedra

“In our municipal hall, after Yolanda, everything stopped,” Zaldy B. Bitbit, the local municipal engineer, explains. “We had to cease operations since almost everything was damaged – the roof, ceilings, flooring, doors and windows.”

Zaldy B. Bibit - Pontevedra (1) - Municipal Engineer
Pontevedra Municipal Engineer Zaldy B. Bitbit

Immediately following the disaster, the LGU repaired some of the damage to ensure that basic services could be resumed. Later, the municipality received funding from both the DILG and DPWH for remaining repairs, including that of the extensively damaged session hall.

Neither was the local civic center spared by Super Typhoon Yolanda. With support from RAY DILG funds, new steel frames were installed, along with roofing, new air-vents, and a repaired roll-up door for easy public access. As Rowena O. Villas, a local DSWD community welfare assistant explains, it is perhaps one of the most significant venues in the municipality: an important gathering point for young and old alike.

Rowena O. Villas - Community Welfare Assistant - Pontevedra
DSWD community welfare assistant Rowena O. Villas

“This is the biggest facility in Pontevedra, so it’s used by almost everyone for sports, cultural and school activities,” she says.

In Pontevedra, as with many Yolanda-affected communities, the continued functioning of the local civic center is vital to ensuring continued delivery of public services. “This is where we conduct seminars for beneficiaries from across the entire municipality, including the 4Ps program,” she explains.

‘Not just repaired, but improved’

Nearby in Pontevedra Public Market, Erlie B. Dadivas is busy, selling locally-grown rice among the aisles filled with vendors. The spacious dry-foods section, clearly marked with the names, locations and produce available at each stall, is a marked improvement on the space once occupied by these same vendors, before Yolanda.

Erlie B. Dadivas - Vendor - Pontevedras (II)
Pontevedra market vendor Erlie B. Dadivas

“The old market wasn’t sturdy, and when it rained, it was difficult to secure and protect all our items properly,” Erlie says. “So when Yolanda happened, our stalls – and goods – were destroyed. We had to start again, from scratch.”

With support from RAY DILG funds, the market was repaired.

“It wasn’t just repaired to its previous state, but was improved a lot,” Erlie explains. “I can say that I speak on behalf of all the rice vendors here, when I say that our market is more stable. The stalls aren’t so congested anymore. We don’t need to stress or worry when it rains, as the roof is resilient, and my products are protected.”

Pilar

Most days, visitors to the municipality to Pilar can expect to visit the local civic center and see a hive of activity underway.

Situated right in front of the municipal hall, the civic center is a one-stop venue for all municipal activities – meeting, seminars, sports and even zumba sessions – every afternoon.

Pilar Mayor Gideon Ike R. Patricio
Pilar Mayor Gideon Ike R. Patricio

“It’s an ‘all-in-one’ facility, and the only such facility we have,” Mayor Gideon Ike R. Patricio explains. “We use the civic center for almost every activity in town.” The building also houses municipal vehicles, which provide a vital means of access to nearby coastal and mountainous areas.

Badly damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda, support from the RAY DILG fund has now provided for large-scale repairs that helped the community return to their regular activities. These include the distribution of relief funds, and the roll-out of programs from other government agencies. During future calamities, the civic center will also serve the municipality as an evacuation center.

The newly-rehabilitated Pilar Civic Center - July 2015.
The newly-rehabilitated Pilar Civic Center – July 2015

“While we didn’t hope that a strong typhoon like Yolanda to destroy it, at least we are thankful that, through the RAY DILG fund, the building could be re-enforced and improved. Fragile sections have now been replaced, and the building is now much stronger,” Mayor Gideon added.