Typhoon Reports: Baclayon, Bohol, 7 - 10 November 2013
Fatima's Report -MEET YOLANDA:
I don't know how one can be so
prepared to meet such a powerful typhoon
as Yolanda (Haiyan). The news reports said it would enter the
Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday evening. At noon,
neighbours arrived with their pillows, blankets, mattresses and
hammocks. They prepared impressively, with cooked rice and inunun
cooked in ginger and vinegar) and some humba (pork stewed in soy
vinegar and spices). Inunun (known as "paksiw" in the Tagalog
and humba (also known as "adobo" in Tagalog and other regions) are
traditional food preparations meant to keep fish and meat edible
Our guests - there were 9 of them - live just some 20 meters away
us, in a house built in the early 90's by Bebe, the same fellow
built our house. Their house is built on the ground, a small
foundation with coconut lumber frames, plywood walls and
galvinised iron sheets for roofing. Apart from the possibility of
an old house (plywood and coco lumber are easy targets by
corrugated g.i. sheets rust and weaken after several years) being
away by winds coming at 300kph, there are numerous trees -
mahogany - surrounding such a small home to 9 people.
We have many coconut trees too but a distance from the house. We
earlier cut down three coconut trees dangerously close to the
This was a decision prompted by the massive earthquake that hit
island province just some 3 weeks ago.
Trevor and I are very fond of our neighbours. There's Mr Tiburcio
is the patriarch of the clan, some 86 years of age. His grandson
hammock for him under the house. Nearby, they put his young
Trevor's scratching pen. Our goat Buttercup is nearby too - all
refuge under the house. A house on 5-foot stilts is very useful
- an indigenous architectural design suited to the tropical
In the event of the house breaking up under the force of the wind,
usual practise is to seek refuge under, hopefully, the posts of
house would keep as the roof and walls are blown away.
Flor is Mr Tiburcio's daughter. She remembers the last powerful
typhoon, Ruping, which blew away one of the coconut trees on this
property and landed on our neighbour Aling Charing's cow. They had
slaughter the cow and cook it, which resulted in a feast for all
I also learned from this gathering that Flor makes the best inunun
I have ever tasted. I still think of it to this day and crave for
When there is good fresh tulingan (tuna mackarel), I will buy a
and ask Flor to cook it. Or perhaps two kilos, one kilo for me and
Trevor as well as Penny and Terry; and one kilo for Flor and her
The youngest of our "evacuees" is my own god-daughter, now 9
old. Aisha is a cheerful baby, with thick black curly hair that
her the monicker "Sto. Nino" or the "Infant Jesus." When she came
the house she looked all around, her eyes bright and curious. I
imagine the sight of the woven bamboo walls, the neat layers of
palm fronds of the roof, and the gmelina beams criss-crossing
been quite a feast for the eyes.
With one hammock under the house installed for Mr Tiburcio, two
hammocks were installed in the house for Aisha and her 2-year old
KC. During the night, Mr Tiburcio slept on the blacony with his
while the rest slept in my studio.
Thursday afternoon there was a mild aftershock. Everyone felt it,
talked about it with a smile. We seem to be getting used to the
aftershocks, as long as they remain mild ones. This was an
+ and supposedly the epicenter was in Tagbilaran City.
I am very much afraid of going to Tagbilaran City since the quake.
cannot believe that those shopping malls did not sustain
damage that would render them unsafe in the event of a strong
aftershock. All those cracks quickly covered, and news of
being suppressed from media coverage. Such activities are good in
keeping positive psychology among the public and keeping profits
their reasonable levels. I remain sceptical of the safety of those
So now, we patronise our public market more - I now insist on
ALL our meat, rice and vegetables here in the local market,
our own centuries-old "mercado" suffered at least two cracked
But again, a positive turn from this tragedy - to support our own
producers and market vendors more directly rather than going
the large mall supermarkets.
Power and water was cut Friday morning. Everyone worked remarkably
efficient - kerosene lamps ready, conscientious use of water for
washing dishes and flushing the toilet, keeping clean as much as
possible lest we be infested by bugs and roaches. There was lots
food too, as Penny and I cooked up all the meat into humba
they spoil without refrigeration. I cooked vegetables for the two
nights our neighbours stayed and the kids loved it. We also had
sausages and meatballs that I prepared several days ago.
At 11am Friday, the typhoon came. Sometimes, the winds seemed
frightening, but after a while, one gets used to it. The winds
around us, messing about with the trees in a circular movement,
round the house. We could also hear the sea roaring some 500
Two days earlier, people prepared for this typhoon - cutting
and trees that pose as risks. We had the coconut trees picked and
cleaned some time ago.
By Saturday morning, the typhoon had gone. Several coconut
fallen, a few fruits, quite a mess of leaves and small branches in
garden. Our guests went back home Saturday morning. Mr Tiburcio
enjoyed the stay so much. He told me, "if the typhoon comes back,
will stay here again!"
I miss our neighbours! It was fun having them all here - it was
Yolanda did not touch the ground here in Baclayon. We have no
damage, no casualties and no one hurt. Like how we survived the
earthquake, it is nothing short of a miracle ... The town of
had many deaths, perhaps from floods as a result of a river dike
already damaged by the quake. Excessive rainfall also make life
more difficult for many people living in makeshift tents, as their
homes have been damaged by the earthquake.
Sunday morning, there was still no power and no water. It was
to get worrying. Our neighbours saw Penny using the fishpond water
bathe the pig, so they asked if they could also collect some water
the pond to flush the toilet. What a pleasant surprise to see that
fishpond is being put to more use!
Luckily, power was restored by Sunday afternoon. Water was also
restored a few hours later. I quickly collected water and cleaned
the bathroom. I sent text messages to my sister to let the family
we are alright.
Shortly, our neighbours asked if they could try catching some
in the fishpond. It was fun! We did warn them that our tilapia
very intelligent. Sure enough, after a few hours trying with a net
a bait of earthworms, they couldn't catch a single fish... I told
that I would ask Penny and Terry to catch some fish with the big
and then I would give them some fish. The last time Penny and
tried, it took them nearly 3 hours just to catch 4 tilapias ... it
Now I am managing to get back to some crocheting. During the
tried crocheting some square motifs in alpaca yarn to make a top.
turned out to be a disaster. I ripped that. So I decided to stop
crocheting and wind some yarn instead. Much better!
Thursday evening some neighbours
asked if they could stay at our house -because they were afraid of
the trees around their hose. We agreed, so they moved in. Grandpa
was put in a hammock under the house, the (two) men slept on the
balcony and the (three) women and (three) children slept in
Fatima's studio -which doubles as a spare bedroom -because it can
function as a fairly self-contained unit. The (two) young babies
slept in hammocks, the rest on mattresses or mats on the floor.
Our visitors all went to bed early (around dusk at 6 PM) but
Fatima and I stayed up longer. We left all the windows open so the
wind could blow through the house rather than buffet against it.
The next morning we awoke around 9 AM. There was no electricity
(and therefore no water) and it was raining heavily. Later the
rain stopped and there was quite a heavy wind -but nothing
particularly worse than we have had before. Basically, both
families spent the time in two locally popular ways: Eating and
sleeping. There wasn't much else to do -except hope for the best
and wait for the storm to go away. In case of serious difficulty,
it seems hiding under the house (which is built on stilts) is the
By the evening, things had calmed down -but still no electricity
or water. We tidied up some debris in the garden (mostly fallen
Saturday morning, our visitors went home -the perfect guests.
Saturday afternoon we strolled down to the market for some
supplies -and I went for a quick swim.
The electricity and water didn't return until around noon Sunday.
I guess things are now back to normal (its Sunday afternoon).
-although the mobile phone and internet connections are still a
Once again, we have been lucky. Just because the main storm missed
us, moving in a North Easterly direction -one shouldn't
underestimate the damage and suffering in the main areas of
However, one can't help feeling that the sensationalism of the
press doesn't really help -and that western value systems may be
pretty screwed up.....
Bread and Circus I guess.......
A Calm Sea and a Lighthouse
Harbour November 9 2013
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