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, our
neighbours arrived with their pillows, blankets, mattresses and
hammocks. They prepared impressively, with cooked rice and inunun (fish
cooked in ginger and vinegar) and some humba (pork stewed in soy sauce,
vinegar and spices). Inunun (known as "paksiw" in the Tagalog language)
and humba (also known as "adobo" in Tagalog and other regions) are
traditional food preparations meant to keep fish and meat edible for
long periods.

Our guests - there were 9 of them - live just some 20 meters away from
us, in a house built in the early 90's by Bebe, the same fellow who
built our house. Their house is built on the ground, a small concrete
foundation with coconut lumber frames, plywood walls and corrugated
galvinised iron sheets for roofing. Apart from the possibility of such
an old house (plywood and coco lumber are easy targets by termites, and
corrugated g.i. sheets rust and weaken after several years) being blown
away by winds coming at 300kph, there are numerous trees - coconuts and
mahogany - surrounding such a small home to 9 people.

We have many coconut trees too but a distance from the house. We have
earlier cut down three coconut trees dangerously close to the house.
This was a decision prompted by the massive earthquake that hit our
island province just some 3 weeks ago.

Trevor and I are very fond of our neighbours. There's Mr Tiburcio who
is the patriarch of the clan, some 86 years of age. His grandson tied a
hammock for him under the house. Nearby, they put his young rooster in
Trevor's scratching pen. Our goat Buttercup is nearby too - all seeking
refuge under the house. A house on 5-foot stilts is very useful indeed
- an indigenous architectural design suited to the tropical elements.
In the event of the house breaking up under the force of the wind, the
usual practise is to seek refuge under, hopefully, the posts of the
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 to
slaughter the cow and cook it, which resulted in a feast for all after
the storm.

I also learned from this gathering that Flor makes the best inunun that
I have ever tasted. I still think of it to this day and crave for it.
When there is good fresh tulingan (tuna mackarel), I will buy a kilo
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 family.

The youngest of our "evacuees" is my own god-daughter, now 9 months
old. Aisha is a cheerful baby, with thick black curly hair that gives
her the monicker "Sto. Nino" or the "Infant Jesus." When she came into
the house she looked all around, her eyes bright and curious. I can
imagine the sight of the woven bamboo walls, the neat layers of nipa
palm fronds of the roof, and the gmelina beams criss-crossing must've
been quite a feast for the eyes.

With one hammock under the house installed for Mr Tiburcio, two other
hammocks were installed in the house for Aisha and her 2-year old cousin
KC. During the night, Mr Tiburcio slept on the blacony with his son,
while the rest slept in my studio.

Thursday afternoon there was a mild aftershock. Everyone felt it, and
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 intensity 3.
+ and supposedly the epicenter was in Tagbilaran City.

I am very much afraid of going to Tagbilaran City since the quake. I
cannot believe that those shopping malls did not sustain sufficient
damage that would render them unsafe in the event of a strong
aftershock. All those cracks quickly covered, and news of casualties
being suppressed from media coverage. Such activities are good in
keeping positive psychology among the public and keeping profits to
their reasonable levels. I remain sceptical of the safety of those

So now, we patronise our public market more - I now insist on buying
ALL our meat, rice and vegetables here in the local market, although
our own centuries-old "mercado" suffered at least two cracked posts.
But again, a positive turn from this tragedy - to support our own local
producers and market vendors more directly rather than going through
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 of
food too, as Penny and I cooked up all the meat into humba otherwise
they spoil without refrigeration. I cooked vegetables for the two
nights our neighbours stayed and the kids loved it. We also had some
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 went all
around us, messing about with the trees in a circular movement, all
round the house. We could also hear the sea roaring some 500 meters

Two days earlier, people prepared for this typhoon - cutting branches
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 branches had
fallen, a few fruits, quite a mess of leaves and small branches in the
garden. Our guests went back home Saturday morning. Mr Tiburcio must've
enjoyed the stay so much. He told me, "if the typhoon comes back, we
will stay here again!"

I miss our neighbours! It was fun having them all here - it was like a

Yolanda did not touch the ground here in Baclayon. We have no serious
damage, no casualties and no one hurt. Like how we survived the
earthquake, it is nothing short of a miracle ... The town of Inabanga
had many deaths, perhaps from floods as a result of a river dike
already damaged by the quake. Excessive rainfall also make life even
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 starting
to get worrying. Our neighbours saw Penny using the fishpond water to
bathe the pig, so they asked if they could also collect some water from
the pond to flush the toilet. What a pleasant surprise to see that the
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 up in
the bathroom. I sent text messages to my sister to let the family know
we are alright.

Shortly, our neighbours asked if they could try catching some tilapia
in the fishpond. It was fun! We did warn them that our tilapia were
very intelligent. Sure enough, after a few hours trying with a net and
a bait of earthworms, they couldn't catch a single fish... I told them
that I would ask Penny and Terry to catch some fish with the big net
and then I would give them some fish. The last time Penny and Terry
tried, it took them nearly 3 hours just to catch 4 tilapias ... it is
not easy!

Now I am managing to get back to some crocheting. During the typhoon, I
tried crocheting some square motifs in alpaca yarn to make a top. That
turned out to be a disaster. I ripped that. So I decided to stop
crocheting and wind some yarn instead. Much better!

Trevor's Report:

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 usual practice.

By the evening, things had calmed down -but still no electricity or water. We tidied up some debris in the garden (mostly fallen coconut branches).

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 bit unreliable.

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 impact.

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.....

Typhoon Haiyan: Thousands feared dead in Philippines

Olympic torch in first spacewalk

Bread and Circus I guess.......


A Calm Sea and a Lighthouse with Rosary

Images of a calm sea and a lighthouse with rosary
Baclayon Harbour November 9 2013


An Earth Shaking Experience
Earthquake Story
Earthquake News

Coconut sacrifice

Disaster Discussion

Garden Diary
October 2013
November 2013

Country Life

Trevor Batten
 <trevor at tebatt dot net>
 Baclayon 2013