Bogo City

The Bogo civic center is more than a decade old, and the largest in northern Cebu. During Super Typhoon Yolanda, it would serve as an evacuation center for more than sixty families.

“As we were informed about the coming of typhoon Yolanda, there was a forced evacuation,” Glenda O. Andrino, a local market vendor and evacuee, remembers. “Our mayor (Celestino Espinosa Martinez Jr.) even had a karaoke machine set-up inside the civic center to ease our worries.”

Bogo City market vendor Glenda O. Andrinof
Bogo City market vendor Glenda O. Andrino

While the walls of the structure remained upright, the civic center itself would experience significant damage during Yolanda. “Some of the roofing was blown off, and it would take more than a year for it to become operational again,” explains Emmanuel A. Tariman, the center’s caretaker.

Bogo City Civic Center caretaker Emmanuel A. Tariman
Bogo City Civic Center caretaker Emmanuel A. Tariman

For many, the strength of Yolanda was unprecedented.

“It was like no other typhoon I’d experienced,” says Romeo B. Ursal, a local market administrator. “My house is located high on the hill. So from there, I could see roofing and debris flying through the air.”

Bogo City Market Administrator Romeo B. Ursal
Bogo City Market Administrator Romeo B. Ursal

Later, he says, “I saw the market, and it was really devastated. Aside from that, stealing was rampant because the stalls were damaged.”

‘We didn’t know where to start’

“After Yolanda, we really don’t know where to start our recovery,” Mayor Celestino says. “We had limited funds available for the repair and restoration of our damaged government buildings.”

Bogo City Mayor Celestino Espinosa Martinez Jr
Bogo City Mayor Celestino Espinosa Martinez Jr.

“It was good because the DILG helped us,” he says.

As caretaker Emmanuel explained, the function of buildings like the civic center are often vital to the overall functioning of the community. “The repairs have been a big help to Bogo City,” he says. “It’s where all our events are held. With a 7,000 person seating capacity, it is also income generating for our LGU, as local private sectors often rent it for company events.”

Significant changes have also taken place at the local public market. “Before it was a small space, so all the vendors were crammed in. The roof was quite low, and without ventilation: there was no floor, only bare soil,” Romeo says. “Now, these concerns have each been addressed.”

Vendors gather in the newly-rehabilitated Bogo City public market - July 2015
Vendors gather in the newly-rehabilitated Bogo City public market – July 2015

Nowadays, the community’s post-Yolanda recovery sees a great focus on disaster risk preparedness. “There’s been big changes in the mindset of our people, and we saw this during Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit),” Mayor Celestino says. “Information dissemination starts at the top, and is directed down to the family level, and gets them involved. Now, we teach our students to understand these concepts for calamities in future.”

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Bantayan

“At my age of 61 years old, Typhoon Yolanda was the strongest typhoon that I had ever witnessed,” Jovencia S. Pastor, a local market vendor, remembers.

Bantayan market vendor Jovencia S. Pastor
Bantayan market vendor Jovencia S. Pastor

“At around 4:00 am on November 8, I was already in the market. I was surprised because 400 pieces of corn were sold before 8:00 am. These were being bought up by evacuees in the civic center.

“After that I went home already. I almost crawled because of the strong winds and there were fallen trees along the way,” Jovencia remembers.

Edgardo D. Hibanada, a supply officer whose office is based in the civic center, shared that it did not flood in Bantayan. Flood was prevented by the low waters, of low-tide: yet the winds remained extraordinarily strong.

Bantayan Supply Officer Edgardo D. Hibanada
Bantayan Supply Officer Edgardo D. Hibanada

“There was a lull for 15 minutes after the first wave, and then the tail of Yolanda was at its strongest,” he said.

“I can still hear the sound of the trees and houses as they toppled down.”

Nor was the municipal hall spared. Most of the roofing and ceiling collapsed. Marilu C. Mangubat, a municipal hall employee, says that after Yolanda, they worked instead in the lobby. “The Mayor’s office was also greatly damaged,” she said. “Many documents were damaged and washed out.”

Municipal Hall employee Marilu C. Mangubat
Municipal Hall employee Marilu C. Mangubat

In that respect, Magdalena K. Derecho, a DSWD employee, shared the challenges of facing calamities, with multiple roles and responsibilities: working in the government to serve the people and at the same time, being a victim of those very same circumstances.

DSWD employee Magdalena K. Derecho
DSWD employee Magdalena K. Derecho

Repairs underway

The public market was damaged right after the first blow of Yolanda. In the days to follow, vendors sold their products beneath improvised roofing. “We are very thankful because our market was repaired. It was not just repaired, so many things were improved especially the lighting,” Jovencia said.

Edgardo is also thankful for the rehabilitation of the nearby civic center. “After it was repaired, it serves as a temporary classroom for some schools here in Bantayan. Aside from the usual activities like sports and cultural events, they also use the civic center as a venue to talk about DRRM,” he added.

The newly-rehabilitated Bantayan Civic Center - July 2015
The newly-rehabilitated Bantayan Civic Center – July 2015

“I was assigned in the operations center after Yolanda and handled the relief goods. Going home at night, I encountered young people heading to the plaza. A question was raised in my mind, why are these people are are going to the plaza as if nothing happened? Then I found out the answer.”

“It’s because we returned to normal immediately,” Edgardo says.

“Still, we are thankful to all the assistance we received from the national government,” he added. “It really has helped to make our infrastructures resilient.”

Local boy scouts in the newly-rehabilitated Bantayan Civic Center
Local boy scouts in the newly-rehabilitated Bantayan Civic Center