MAYORS in Cebu’s northernmost towns reported 14 killed by super typhoon Yolanda, which flattened their crops, damaged nearly all of their constituents’ houses and cut off power and phone services for two days now…
In Daanbantayan, the northernmost tip of mainland Cebu, Mayor Augusto Corro said the town’s services were immobilized.
“We are devastated. Wala na mahitsura diri (It’s chaotic here),” he said.
Their market, gas stations, church and municipal hall were all damaged. Motorists scrambled yesterday for the dwindling fuel supply.”
News: ‘Devastation in northern Cebu’
10 November 2013
Video: Mga nasalanta ng Bagyong Yolanda sa Daanbantayan, Cebu, binisita ni DILG Sec. Roxas. (‘Victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Daanbantayan Cebu visited by DILG Secretary Mar Roxas’). GMA News, 13 November 2014.
“At my age, at 61 years old, (Super) Typhoon Yolanda was the strongest typhoon that I had ever witnessed,” Jovencia S. Pastor, a local market vendor, remembers.
“At around 04:00 on November 8, I was already in the market. I
was surprised because 400 pieces of corn were sold before 08:00. 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.
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.”
The municipality of Daanbantayan which is 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.
(Super) Typhoon Yolanda was my first terrible typhoon experience to date,” remembers long-time municipal employee, Jessyl S. Ortega. “We really thought that it was the end of the world.”
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?’”
On first sight, it is can be quite difficult to believe that the colorful municipality of Medellin was once devastated by Super 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.”
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.
“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.
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.”
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.”
“Our public market was built in 1960s when I was still in my elementary days,” remembers Rodney P. Menchavez, a local municipal engineer.
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.
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.
“It was an unexplainable feeling,” he says. “Especially since we rarely experience typhoons here. We are just used to having Signal level 1 typhoons.”