Yolanda: Pic­tures of a tragedy

Mas tu­matak sa gob­y­erno. Alam natin na mahi­rap sila pero hindi nila ang gani­tong tu­long na mas ma­pahi­hi­ra­pan pa sila

Cebu Daily News - - FEATURE - By Ros­alie O. Abatayo CORRESPONDENT

Five years af­ter Su­per Typhoon Yolanda’s trail wrecked Ani­bong District, the most gravely af­fected part of Ta­cloban City, sur­vivors con­tinue to cry for help to get back on their feet.

For some chil­dren of the district’s Barangay 68, their sto­ries and strug­gles are best told through pic­tures of what their com­mu­nity has be­come half a decade af­ter.

John Rey Dela Rosa, a grade nine stu­dent and a sur­vivor of Su­per Typhoon Yolanda, learned to cap­ture photos in 2016 when a group of young pro­fes­sion­als came to their place. That was his first time to hold a cam­era.

From then on, John Rey started tak­ing photos of the houses and shanties built on the coast right be­hind a “Tsunami Haz­ard Zone” sig­nage in their area and chil­dren play­ing at the bay where many of the mem­bers of their com­mu­nity died dur­ing the storm surge in 2013.

“Sa mga photos ko, gusto kong ipakita na hindi safe ‘yung lu­gar namin pero nan­doon pa rin kami kasi wala na­man kam­ing i bang pupun­ta­han

(Through my photos, I want to show that our place is not safe and yet we are still there be­cause we have nowhere else to go),” said 18-year-old Dela Rosa.

Com­ing from a sec­tor which he de­scribed as “lay­layan ng lipunan (fringes of so­ci­ety),” Dela Rosa said they are left with no choice but to con­tinue their long wait for re­lo­ca­tion five years af­ter the tragedy.

“Pan­garap ko na maibi­gay sa amin ‘yung mga ba­hay na mas

safe kami. Pan­garap ko para sa ak­ing pam­ilya at sa Ta­cloban [City] mismo, na sana mabuhay kami ng maayos ‘yung hindi kami matatakot na may bagong Yolanda na na­man tapos nan­dito pa rin kami (I dream that we will be given hous­ing where we are safe. I dream this for my fam­ily and Ta­cloban it-

self so that we can live peace­fully with­out fear of an­other Yolanda and yet here we are),” Dela Rosa told CEBU DAILY NEWS in an in­ter­view on Thurs­day, the 5th an­niver­sary of the tragedy that claimed over 6,000 lives.

The sto­ries of sur­vivors like Dela Rosa have fu­eled Julie Nealaga, a pro­duc­tion artist, and a group of friends to start the ad­vo­cacy Post­cards from Dis­as­ters (PFD) in 2016.

PFD is a cam­paign for aware­ness on the real sta­tus of Yolanda-hit com­mu­ni­ties.

Nealaga said they want to em­power the sur­vivors to ask for the govern­ment ser­vices that are due to them.

Re­cent data ob­tained by PFD from the Na­tional Hous­ing Au­thor­ity (NHA) re­vealed that of the 205,000 hous­ing units for Yolanda vic­tims in the Visayas re­gion, only 92,000 units have been com­pleted.

Of the num­ber, only about 59,000 had been turned over to ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

“At this pace, five years na at nandyan pa rin sila, it would take an­other 5 or 10 years bago sila ma-re­lo­cate. Sana hindi na mag­ing gan­ito (It’s been five years and they’re still there. It would take an­other 5 or 10 years be­fore their re­lo­ca­tion),” Nealaga said.

“We are here to cre­ate aware­ness na af­ter half a decade, gan­ito pa rin ang kala­gayan nila. Sana ngayon na the call is from the com­mu­nity,


(We are here to cre­ate aware­ness that af­ter half a decade, the sit­u­a­tion re­mains the same. Hope­fully, the call now from the com­mu­nity will be heard by

govern­ment. We know that th­ese peo­ple are poor but they don’t de­serve this kind of help that ac­tu­ally makes things even more dif­fi­cult for them),” Nealaga added.

PFD has been spon­sor­ing sto­ry­telling and pho­tog­ra­phy work­shops for Yolanda sur­vivors since 2016 to help them tell sto­ries of their strug­gles from the per­spec­tive of com­mu­nity mem­bers, es­pe­cially the youth.

“The youth have the power to change the sys­tem. They should be em­pow­ered,” said Nealaga.

Jac­que­line Fran­cisco, 12, is one of the chil­dren who un­der­went PFD work­shops.

“Gusto ko pong ipakita ang photos ng com­mu­nity namin (I want to show photos of our com­mu­nity),” said the young girl. Fran­cisco, her seven

younger sib­lings and their par­ents live at the coast of Barangay 68, Ani­bong District.

From a timid and shy girl when PFD started, Fran­cisco is now able to share her dreams and as­pi­ra­tions for her­self and their com­mu­nity.

“Gusto ko pong mag­ing pho­tog­ra­pher at ku­nan ’yung ma­g­a­n­dang

kinabukasan ng Ta­cloban (I want to be a pho­tog­ra­pher and take pic­tures of Ta­cloban’s beau­ti­ful fu­ture),” said Fran­cisco.

Dur­ing the 5th year com­mem­o­ra­tion of the most dis­as­trous typhoon that trailed the Visayas, a photo ex­hibit at the Cube Wing of SM City Sea­side was launched.

The ex­hibit which shows photos of Ani­bong District taken by Dela Rosa, Fran­cisco and other chil­dren trained by PFD will be open for a month or un­til De­cem­ber 8.


Jac­que­line Fran­cisco, 12, shows a photo of her mother and two younger sib­lings in front of their shanty at the coast of Ani­bong District, the most se­verely-hit area of Ta­cloban City.

One of the posters of the ex­hibit. Photo cour­tesy of Post­cards from Dis­as­ters.

John Rey Dela Rosa, 18, shows a photo of chil­dren swim­ming on the coast of Ani­bong District where many of their com­mu­nity mem­bers died dur­ing the storm surge caused by Su­per Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.


The young chil­dren of Ani­bong District who were part of the Post­cards from Dis­as­ters pho­tog­ra­phy work­shop.


Mall go­ers view the ex­hibit of photos taken by the vic­tims of su­per typhoon Yolanda at SM Sea­side.

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