Santa Fe

Situated on popular tourist spot known as Bantayan Island, Santa Fe, famed for its white sand beaches, is perhaps not especially known for its Yolanda experience.

Yet as Super Typhoon Yolanda made landfall, Santa Fe was one of a number of municipalities in Cebu that remain completely isolated, with all modes of communication cut off, and roads made impassable to vehicles.

As the storm raged, some 1,000 of the municipality’s local citizens sought refuge in the nearby municipal hall.

“There were people everywhere,” remembers Joanes Paulo M. Esgana, a local municipal administrator. “From the ground to the second floor, everyone was packed in like canned sardines.”

Santa Fe Municipal Administrator Joanes Paulo M. Esgana
Santa Fe Municipal Administrator Joanes Paulo M. Esgana

At times, it was a terrifying experience. “It was really scary, watching objects flying around the room. The roof (of the municipal hall) peeled away, piece by piece, like tissue paper,” he says.

Some were even less fortunate. “There were those people who weren’t able to go to the municipal hall – those who were on their way, but beaten there by Yolanda – they held on to coconut trees,” Joanes explained. “Some said that they could feel the coconut trees being uprooted in their hands. They had no choice but to keep grabbing at different trees, holding on, until Yolanda subsided.”

There were moments he experienced on that day that were unlike any other. “On that day, there was a family holding a wake,” he added. “We were asked to evacuate the corpse, along with the family.”

Many in the municipality had undertaken preparations prior to Yolanda’s arrival. Yet the sheer magnitude of the typhoon was beyond regular expectations.

“During Typhoon Yolanda, we had volunteers help out. They are our Barangay Volunteer Emergency Response Team,” Joanes explains. “They shared that it was challenging for them to evacuate people before Yolanda. With many local people having survived Typhoon Frank, they were confident that they would also survive Yolanda without evacuating,” he says.

Ivy R. Illustrisimo, a stall owner in the Santa Fe public market, was one of those who did not evacuate during Yolanda. Instead, she stayed at home and watched as the typhoon wrecked havoc on nearby houses and infrastructure.

Santa Fe public market vendor Ivy R. Illustrisimo
Santa Fe public market vendor Ivy R. Illustrisimo

“We didn’t expect it to be that strong, but we were wrong,” she explains. “The whole surroundings changed after the typhoon. It devastated our market, and our community.”

Rehabilitation means efforts to save lives, now and in the future

With assistance from RAY DILG, the public market has now been significantly improved, with view to greater resilience in the face of calamities.

“Our stalls now have roll-up doors, keeping our products safe overnight,” Ivy says. “In the past, some items, especially school supplies, were stolen while the stalls were closed.”

The newly-rehabilitated Santa Fe Public Market - July, 2015
The newly-rehabilitated Santa Fe Public Market – July, 2015

The addition of a second floor also means more vendors, and a more vibrant space. “Our market is made of concrete, with proper division for the stall owners. It was really a make-over here in our market,” Ivy added.

The Santa Fe municipal hall has also experienced significant improvements.

“Before (Yolanda) the municipal hall looked like a warehouse,” Joanes says. “Where once we had jalousie windows, now we have sliding windows and doors. New floor tiles have also been installed, while our payment centers now also have glass windows.”

“The RAY DILG fund was a big help in Santa Fe. People are impressed because our municipal hall and public market have been improved. Both are beautiful and resilient. We can proudly say that the fund was utilized well and can be seen and used by the whole community,” Joanes added.

Tabuelan

At first, it was difficult for Arthuro B. Vincente to believe what he was seeing. A Tabuelan public market vendor for almost a decade, he had never before seen typhoons that could bring about this kind of destruction.

Tabuelan market vendor Arthuro B. Vincente
Tabuelan market vendor Arthuro B. Vincente

“It was an unexplainable feeling,” he says. “Especially since we rarely experience typhoons here. We are just used to having Signal level 1 typhoons.”

The trusses of the market roof had twisted, and in sections, had blown away under the gale-force winds. As Municipal Engineer Edmer S. Polloso explains: “before the typhoon, the roofing in the market was an ordinary sheet corrugated gauge 26, which is a standard type for roofing.”

Tabuelan Municipal Engineer Edmer S. Polloso
Tabuelan Municipal Engineer Edmer S. Polloso

As RAY DILG funds were delivered, the engineer then rallied for a better and more resilient market by applying Build Back Better principles.

In technical terms: “From one angle bar, now we have two. From 60 cm purlins, now it’s 30 cm. We really incorporated the ‘Build Back Better’ concept in our newly repaired market.”

“If we were not given the assistance, we might have just settled with simply repairing what was damaged by Yolanda. Since the LGU has so many priorities but operates on a limited budget, the RAY DILG fund helped us in that respect,” he adds.

Tabo Tabo

Every Saturday, there’s a ‘tabo tabo day’ in the market, when visiting vendors from nearby towns sell clothes, vegetables and other products. It is a whole day event, and often very crowded.

In the past, some vendors were often reluctant to have stalls in the market, finding it too costly for their needs. Yet after it was reconstructed, it was made more resilient – and at only 10 pesos per square meter, with tiled floors and solid roofing – requests to hold a stall in the market sky-rocketed.

“Now the problem is that there are too many vendors,” Edmer says. “Since the market is now more beautiful and more resilient, more people want to set-up in it. Because of this interest, I can really say that our project had a significant effect to our community,” he said.

For long-time vendors like Arthuro, the impact of these rehabilitation efforts are especially significant.

“The repair in our market is of big help to us, especially the vendors,” he says. “This is our livelihood. This is where we get our daily needs, for our children and for their schooling. We really appreciate it because the request and release of funding for the rehabilitation of our market was immediately acted upon.”

The newly-rehabilitated Tabuelan public market - July 2015
The newly-rehabilitated Tabuelan public market – July 2015

Sogod

“Our public market was built in 1960s when I was still in my elementary days,” remembers Rodney P. Menchavez,  local municipal engineer.

Sogod Municipal Engineer Rodney P. Menchavez
Sogod Municipal Engineer Rodney P. Menchavez

Yet the decades-old structure was unable to withstand Yolanda. As the Super Typhoon subsided, it soon became clear that the entire market structure had collapsed, destroying much of what lay beneath.

“Since then, we’ve repaired the market to look just as it once did,” Rodney explains. Yet vital changes have been made, including replacing with steel where once there had been only wood. Market ‘floors’, before made only of soil, were then cemented.

“Because of the battle cry of the DILG urging us to Build Back Better, we knew that we really had to build back with greater resiliency,” he says. “So with RAY DILG funding, we were able to strengthen the structure.”

More resilient than ever

Not only is the market more resilient, but a more efficient space, says Gina M. Montejo, a local barangay  captain.

Barangay Captain Gina M. Montejo
Barangay Captain Gina M. Montejo

“The repairs mean that the market is more organized,” she says. “Everything is now arranged according to the products the vendors are selling.”

This means less congested aisles, adding to the vibrant market space.

“The repair of the market was of big help to the community because of the comfort it brings to the market goers,” Gina explains. “Our farmers who live in the mountains would usually visit the market on a Sunday – market day – to buy the food that will last them the week.”

The newly-rehabilitated Sogod public market - July 2015
The newly-rehabilitated Sogod public market – July 2015

“Unlike in the city or other urban town, you can just easily go to the market anytime you want. But here in our barangay , it is far different. It’s why the RAY DILG fund extended to us benefited the entire community,” Rodney added.

San Remegio

“As I looked up at the sky, I saw roofing sheets blowing in the wind like mere pieces of paper. Everything was laid bare, most obstructions were blown away. Neighbors that I usually do not see were standing outside, in the open. I could see almost everything, with nothing blocking my sight. The coconut trees are desperately hanging on to their roots, it was almost as if Yolanda was combing through them.”

It is memories like these – of the ‘new normal’ – that stay with Antonio P. Villamor, president of Liga ng Barangays  in San Remegio, Cebu.

Antonio P. Villamor, President of Liga ng Baranggays
Antonio P. Villamor, President of Liga ng Barangays

While the municipality regularly experiences seasonal typhoons, “Yolanda was not ‘normal’, in any the sense of the word,” he says. “It was the strongest I had every experienced: even my parents had not seen anything like this: this kind of ‘killer’ typhoon.”

The new normal

Both the local market and municipal hall suffered extensive damage as a result.

Yet support from RAY DILG funds, the roof and damaged structural walls at the market could be repaired. “Now our market is more resilient,” Manuel E. Conde, the market administrator, says. “The beam of the market used to be lumber: now, it is made of concrete. The funding was beneficial to us because three months after the funding was released, the market could go back to normal – in fact, now we have even more vendors.”

San Remegio Market Administrator Manuel E. Conde
San Remegio Market Administrator Manuel E. Conde

Nearby, at the the municipal hall, the roofing, ceiling and office equipment were also destroyed. Since the building is very important to the municipality’s continued function, the LGU already repaired some portions prior to the distribution of RAY DILG funds. Yet, as funds arrived, they were able to better repair the building: it now looks brand new.

As Mayor Mariano R. Martinez explains, the repairs to the municipal hall have assisted employees and patrons alike, especially those groups with special needs. Pregnant women from geographically isolated disadvantaged areas (GIDA), for example, now benefit from the addition of a municipal pre-natal care center. There, they can rest prior to their due dates, and receive additional care in the lead-up to their delivery.

San Remegio Mayor Mariano R. Martinez
San Remegio Mayor Mariano R. Martinez

“Modesty aside, we were able to maximize the RAY DILG fund and many people benefited from it,”  Mayor Martinez says. “I am a returning mayor and I can really see the difference in the national government from then and now. Before, you really have to fend for yourself, for your LGU. Now, we have so many projects and funding assistance from DILG through RAY and BUB. We are also recipients for Kalahi from DSWD. We never had those projects before.”

“Buildings like the municipal hall and public market are integral to providing services to the community,” Antonio added. “Now, we can now cater to the needs of our citizens better.”

The newly-rehabitated San Remegio public market - July, 2015
The newly-rehabitated San Remegio public market – July, 2015

Medellin

On first sight, it is can be quite difficult to believe that the colorful municipality of Medellin was once devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

As engineering staff Cherry Lyn G. Montilla explains, on seeing the damage “right after the typhoon, my first reaction was our town became a ghost town.”

Medellin engineering staff Cherry Lyn G. Montilla
Medellin engineering staff Cherry Lyn G. Montilla

In the initial wake of the devastation, local officials were quoted as estimating that around 90% of houses and other infrastructure in the municipality were partially or totally damaged.

Yet since Yolanda, government infrastructure – including the municipal hall, water tanks, bridges and school fences – have since been repainted in a series of bright, cheerful colors.

“We repainted like this after Yolanda,” Cherry says, proudly. “This is in line with our slogan ‘Fantastic Medellin’, where our mayor wants our town and everyone who visits to be lively. It’s really a good feeling,” she says.

The newly-rehabilitated Medellin Municipal Building (Town Hall) - July, 2015
The newly-rehabilitated Medellin Municipal Building (Town Hall) – July, 2015

Yolanda: An unexplainable feeling

At the Medellin public market, Teresa Q. Carmelo remembers watching as pieces of plywood, sheets of roofing and market items flew around the marketplace, helpless under the force of Yolanda’s gale-force winds.

Medellin market vendor Teresa Q. Carmelo
Medellin market vendor Teresa Q. Carmelo

“It was an unexplainable feeling,” she says.

As the recovery effort got underway, “we don’t know where to start,” she explains. “We don’t know if we would be allowed to work in the market again, because the roofing was extremely damaged.”

Nearby, at the Medellin civic center, most of the roofing had also suffered significant damage. School and sports activities immediately ceased as the building was deemed unsafe for use.

Yet with the assistance of RAY DILG funds, both the civic center and public market could be repaired, ensuring that vendors, clients and citizens could return to these vital daily activities.

Medellin Civic Center 1
The newly-rehabilitated Medellin Civic Center 

Colorful personality

“We are very thankful to have received the RAY DILG assistance,” barangay  secretary Eduardo S. Nicor says. “Now we can use the civic center again. Since it is in the town proper, it is also income generating for our LGU. Also, because of the fund they have added more bleachers which is very useful during our activities here,” he says.

Barangay Secretary Eduardo S. Nicor
Barangay Secretary Eduardo S. Nicor

“Our colorful infrastructures here in Medellin are a good reminder to us that we are survivors of Yolanda,” Cherry adds. “I believe that this reflects the colorful personality of the people here, and the experiences we have gone through. This has made us stronger than ever.”

Medellin Civic Center 2
The newly-rehabilitated Medellin Civic Center 

 

Madridejos

“Typhoon Yolanda was my first, and most terrible typhoon experience to date,” remembers long-time municipal employee, Jessyl S. Ortega. “We really thought that it was the end of the world.”

Municipal employee Jessyl S. Ortega
Madridejos Municipal employee Jessyl S. Ortega

As Yolanda wrecked destruction across northern Cebu and elsewhere, at Madridejos municipal hall, the roof was severely damaged. This significantly affected the ceiling, and the offices beneath. For employees like Jessyl, it made for a devastating sight. “Many of the employees here felt hopeless,” she says. “We asked ourselves: ‘How can this possibly be restored? How can we return this to normalcy?’”

Across the community, the effects of Yolanda were both widespread and visible for all to see.

“After Yolanda, it was very hot in our municipality, since there were no trees,” Jessyl says. They were all sunburnt – they all looked so dark.”

Nearby, Marivic Aga-on, a fish vendor in Madridejos public market, had worked half-day on that fateful November day. She witnessed the typhoon’s destruction of the roof in the wet section above her stall.

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Madridejos Marivic Aga-on market vendor

“After the typhoon, my co-vendors and I contributed money for us to buy tarpaulins as temporary roofing,” she recalled. “But we had to go back to the market and sell because that’s our source of living.”

The national government noticed our needs

That’s why they are very pleased with the funding assistance extended to them. With the municipal hall now repaired, it is now more a more comfortable and pleasant space for both officials and citizens alike.

The newly-rehabilitated Madridejos Municipal Hall - July 2015
The newly-rehabilitated Madridejos Municipal Hall – July 2015

“Our LGU could not do this alone. We are very blessed and thankful because the national government noticed our needs,” Jessyl says.

Marivic felt that life has also improved at the public market, with even greater resiliency in the face of future disasters. “There were so much damage and products lost,” she explains. “But we are now secure because we have permanent and sturdier roofing above us.”

“We are now just looking at the bright side after the typhoon. Yolanda has been terrible to us, but our resiliency is still stronger than she is,” Jessyl concludes.

Daanbantayan

The municipality of Daanbantayan, located in the northern tip of Cebu, was not spared by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The local municipal hall, right by the coastline, saw whole sections of the roof and windows destroyed. Sections of the local public market were also in need of extensive repair. The civic center, serving as an evacuation center, was also badly damaged.

For local survivors, like Marina Y. Arcenal, a municipal engineer of two decades, Yolanda is remembered as the strongest typhoon experienced in living memory.

Daanbantayan Municipal Engineer Marina Y. Arcenal
Daanbantayan Municipal Engineer Marina Y. Arcenal

Nearby, Loida Chiong, as the care taker of the civic center, was busy preparing food for evacuees when Yolanda struck.

Local resident and civic center caretaker Loida Chiong
Local resident and civic center caretaker Loida Chiong

“I was the one in charge of cooking lugaw  (porridge),” she remembers. “I prepared three big pots of it and transported it to the civic center. While we were feeding all the evacuees, The winds were blowing strongly.”

“But when the roofing blew off, everyone panicked and ran away,” she shared.

For Emily Manigos, the devastation was also deeply affecting. As a vendor in Daanbantayan Public Market for almost a decade, she returned to her stall to find that very little remained: items have been damaged, or stolen. Of the overhead roof, nothing was left.

Daanbantayan market vendor Emily Manigos
Daanbantayan market vendor Emily Manigos

“We had to start our lives from scratch after Yolanda,” she explains. “Both our home and our livelihood was destroyed. Yolanda was one of the difficult moments in our lives.”

RAY DILG funds

Extensive repairs, funded both in part by the LGU and the RAY DILG program, began soon after the disaster.

“Our LGU was able to repair the back part of our municipal hall,” Marina explains. “Then when the RAY fund arrived, we used this to complete the rehabilitation works in the front of the building.”

Everything is back to business. There are no vacant and haunted rooms filled with water anymore,” she says. “Instead of jalousie windows, we now have sliding windows that are more much more resilient. The thickness of our roofing was also increased from 0.4mm to .6mm that are more likely to withstand calamities.”

The newly-rehabilitated Daanbantayan Municipal Hall
The newly-rehabilitated Daanbantayan Municipal Hall

Loida explained that school programs, cultural events such as fiesta celebrations, and barangay meetings are once again held again in the newly repaired civic center.

For Emily, she feels “blessed and thankful” since the market was repaired. “It was difficult for us to sell items without a roof above our heads,” she explained. “When it rained, everything became wet – including us, the vendors, and our customers. We are all more comfortable now.”

The newly-rehabilitated Daanbantayan Public Market
The newly-rehabilitated Daanbantayan Public Market