tacloban leyte

Tacloban City : Stronger Than Any Storm

Tacloban Leyte is located in the north-eastern part of the island-province of Leyte in Eastern Visayas in the Philippines. It lies in the Cancabato Bay and faces the Samar island. It is because of this strategic location that it became the commercial hub, educational hub, and political hub of Region 8. This capital city is home to about 250,00 generally warm Waray speaking Filipinos.

Interestingly, Tacloban city was, for about 4 months, called the capital of the Philippines from 20 October 1944 to 27 February 1945.

After Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan made landfall on the morning of November 8, 2013 in Leyte, leaving apocalyptic scale destruction in the island and much of the Visayas region. Typhoon Haiyan, locally named as Yolanda, is listed as the world’s strongest typhoon to make a landfall and left 95% of Tacloban devastated.

tacloban leyte

Haiyan may have left the people of Tacloban in a state of a depressing shock and on its knees, but not its peoples hope and dreams. As the entire planet’s support and prayers started to pour in, the people of Tacloban started to stand up and work on rebuilding their houses and their lives. Rising is no easy task, but no typhoon can forever wash away their spirits. Signs of normalcy may not be completely there, yet you cannot help yourself to be moved by their sincere welcome as you arrive at the domestic airport. You are well aware of where they come from, of what they have been thru, but your arrival must be seamless and smooth as possible.

Even more heartening is the way they greet and receive you in every establishment you visit. The genuine display of their unwavering smiles just melts your heart. They offer you the best of what they have. They ask if you had a good night sleep and if you have been helped. They show concern if that fish was too salty for your taste.

You want to ask them how they did it. You want to hear their stories. You want to know what kept them alive and going. You want to know the secret formula for being resilient, for being stronger than the strongest typhoon. But you hold yourself.

You roll into the newly cemented streets lined with newly built modest houses, hotel accommodations, cute and quaint coffee shops, graffiti walls depicting that dreadful morning and people who have seem to accept that storm surge is the new way of life they need to adapt to. Leyte is now home to more than 50 hotels and still growing. Its tourism industry is now alive more than ever after Haiyan. Robinson’s Place and many other malls are already thriving and nightlife is back to its old state of joy.

tacloban leyte

tacloban leyte

And when something awful happens, the goodness stands out even more - Banana Yoshimoto Click To Tweet

You whisper “thank you” for the countless good deed done to you while you were strolling its streets or for smiling while you were taking their photo, and realize you meant to thank them for something else. You meant to thank them for an important and valuable lesson in life, rising above. You meant to thank the people of Leyte for showing you how its done. You meant to thank them for showing the world that they are stronger and more resilient than any storm. You’re also thankful that you made this trip to witness firsthand how they are understanding that storm surge is now a new vocabulary in the dictionary.

Yes, the city beckons for you to experience their amazing island, their colorful festivals, their sweet pineapple and equally warm people. You turn your head, you hear the call. As you board the plane to depart, you make a pact with yourself, “I shall return”.

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  1. Reply

    I’ve never been here but after reading this , I must see it!

    • Leah
    • October 29, 2016
    Reply

    I was in the Philippines during super typhoon Yolanda. I was very moved by the outpouring of help and love during that difficult time. I was reminded of this feeling when reading your post.

    • Anne
    • October 29, 2016
    Reply

    I am so sorry to hear of the devastation here. It is great that people rally around and help to rebuild like this. I am heading to the Philippines in a few weeks and hope my travel money will help in some small way.

  2. Reply

    That was a very moving post. You can only imagine what the people went through during the storm but to see them rise above all those setbacks in life was really inspiring.

  3. Reply

    The devastation here is terrible, but the people have so much resilience. It’s so great to read the people all want to help each other rebuild what they lost and shows a great sense of community. Very inspiring!

  4. Reply

    Wow, sounds absolutely terrible. The community sounds so strong and resilient though. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    • Skye
    • October 31, 2016
    Reply

    Great to hear the people are strong and thriving again after such a terrible event. Great article.

  5. Reply

    Thanks for writing about your experience in Leyte – I’m always so saddened by the 24 hour news cycle in the sense that the people affected deal with the devestation from something like this for years to come, though we hearing about it forget within the next day. So glad to hear that the people are thriving in the face of their tragic circumstances.

    • Sia
    • October 31, 2016
    Reply

    Stories like this really make you think! So sad to hear about the devastation there and I can’t even imagine how they are so strong to be so caring in times like this. I was really moved by the fact that they are so warm and ask you about your night, if the food is to your taste. There are probably many genuine stories hiding behind these newly cemented streets.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • October 31, 2016
      Reply

      I know! It is really heart warming, like I should be the one to entertain them but its the other way around.

  6. Reply

    I cannot even imagine what it’s like to suffer a disaster like that. It’s important to get people’s support to get through it.

  7. Reply

    Really great post and one that touches the heart. People are stronger when they pull together and in this case, the locals did. Amazing post and really moving.

    • Kat
    • November 8, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Carla, a short post but moving, tears welled up in my eyes as I was reading it. It’s devastating to read about the typhoon destruction but at the same time, grateful to know that kindness still exists in this world despite circumstances. Thanks for sharing 😊

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • November 8, 2016
      Reply

      Yes, they are the kindest considering what they have been thru. Thanks for dropping by Kat!

    • JOSE RAQUEL
    • November 9, 2016
    Reply

    I live in Florida but born and raised in Guinarona, Dagami Leyte. Being the only family member left and having a house in my place I immediately got a plane ticket to Leyte. I was lucky that on the 3rd day I was in Tacloban with airlines already landing in the Tacloban airport even if the buildings in the airport were damaged. As we drove to my place the first thing I noticed was the severe damage of the city. Three or four ocean going ships were up on the hills pushed up there by the water surge. No electric poles were left standing and as we drove south going to my place there was not one tree standing specially the coconut trees were broken. All the houses facing the ocean were 99% washed away except for the houses made of cement. When I reached my home which is a two story house it had no roof and 90% damaged as were 95 % of the homes I passed by. That devastation was just unbelievable.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • November 9, 2016
      Reply

      I am sorry for your loss Jose. It was really too depressing to see the aftermath. 3 years after Haiyan, I visited Tacloban and I am totally amazed at how they have recovered and continue to work for their dreams. The people of Tacloban and the whole of Haiyan survivors will always be my role model of how to rise above.

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