- Posted December 11, 2013 by
Cebu CIty, Philippines
Team iReport featured this story
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Guiuan, Philippines: A Month After Haiyan's First Landfall
- rachel8, CNN iReport producer
It was an unfamiliar sight, a ghastly and strange vision of home. At first, it’s as if wars, famine, earthquakes, and storms have all conspired against it. But no… as most recounted, only the wind is at fault here, only Haiyan’s odd gustiness that smashed and wiped what little or huge were on land. My memory of the place blurs slowly as I drew near. Once, a budding town. Now, a space of rubble, a land without foliage, a sickly island floating helplessly on beastly seas.
From above, even God will despair. From below, hope is air that breathes life to wearied souls, to souls who have yet to forget the monstrous winds and rains that Haiyan plagued over them. Beasts and Men, Young and Old: all struggle for shelter, all shiver at night and sweat by day.
Before the tragedy, Guiuan’s future had been consistently optimistic. Just a month ago, a huge construction for a new medical facility meets visitors at the town's entrance. At the town proper, more stores, which meant more jobs, were opened and constructions for new ones were ongoing. The sight of the new public terminal parallel to the town’s busy market was a proud achievement, while the busy streets were healthy signs of Guiuan’s progress.
After November 8, 2013, this optimistic future suddenly turned grim. At the town’s entrance, uprooted trees and scattered debris warn visitors of the horrors that happened there: the terminal wiped out, the market place torn into pieces. Economic prospects are now gloomy than ever. With coconut trees all dead, what livelihood is left for those thousands who relied on it? With fishing boats tossed and torn, how else would fishermen fish? What was once in abundance, now begs and weeps.
Over there, a day’s walk is a lifetime’s penance, a persistent afterthought, a relenting disbelief. I walked through streets clouded by ruins, through shattered houses, fallen churches, and wrecked schools. I walked passed friends whose smiles whisper victory over death, passed homes whose warmth is now damp and cold.
It’s been a month since the storm. Still, the carnage left by Haiyan’s visit makes the horrors imaginable. What brutal winds could have shattered our 400 year-old Church? Last year’s magnitude 7 quake merely swayed its halls. Now, its once glorious façade is but a reminder of majesty lost forever.
Still, hope springs in abundance. Despite the ruins, people seemed busier than ever. All of them, excited and enthralled. Clearing operations had been in progress since the 2nd week. Over a week, the center of the town, the market place, had been cleaned, cleared, and opened for business. People buy, sell, build, and pray. Indeed, possibilities are wider than ever. It may be uncertain and less optimistic than before. But still, it breeds hope and life. For now, these—hope and life— are more than enough.
Bangon Guiuan! (Rise Guiuan!)