Dornet Venturanza, Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group’s Philippines partner, shares her experience of Typhoon Haiyan and its global impact.
In early November 2013, large areas of the Philippines were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 6,069 people, left 1,779 missing and four million either homeless or with damaged homes. It was the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record. According to United Nations officials, about eleven million people have been affected, representing nearly ten percent of the Philippines population.
As a result of the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan, thousands of people made their way to less affected areas including Cebu and Manila. More than 6,000,000 have been displaced with more than 20,000 relocating to Manila.
As of late December 2013, power had been restored to one percent of Tacloban City, the capital of the province of Leite which was flattened by Typhoon Haiyan. Local officials were still pulling on average 25 bodies a day from the rubble of the city’s crushed infrastructure or from its shores.
Days before Typhoon Haiyan made its way to the Philippines, Filipinos and expatriates stocked up on emergency supplies and newcomers to Manila waited nervously for updates from their embassies and local officials. On Friday the 8th of November 2013,local and international schools across Manila were closed. Play dates and social appointments were cancelled. Household staff were sent home early where possible. Spouses called their working halves to come home early. Family and friends back home contacted their loved ones in the Philippines for updates. And everyone waited for the typhoon to hit overnight. Raindrops fell shyly over Manila then the sky cleared when Manila residents woke up on Saturday. In contrast, eleven million others across the Philippines suffered and continue to suffer from the unforgiving rage of Typhoon Haiyan.
Filipinos and expatriates in Manila immediately rallied together and donated cash, food, clothes, and time. Manila branches of multinational and local companies donated generously while a number of local staff waited anxiously for news of relatives and friends in affected areas. A number of expatriate spouses assisted relief efforts by collecting donations amongst the expatriate communities and volunteering at aid distribution points in Manila. Expatriates with household staff from affected areas sought donations from friends and family back home to assist where possible.
The magnitude of Typhoon Haiyan was matched by the wealth of support and aid received from regional neighbors and international partners, including foreign governments,non‐governmental agencies and celebrities. The Japanese,Canadian, American, Norwegian and Australian Governments donated the most foreign aid, while businesses including IKEA, Walmart, Samsung, HSBC, Coca‐Cola, Major League Baseball and FIFA made significant donations. iTunes released a compilation album entitled Songs for the Philippines featuring a range of artists. Expatriate Filipinos likewise rallied behind donation campaigns and anxiously waited for news from their loved ones back home. American band Journey and its Filipino vocalist Arnel Pineda made a donation to the United Nations World Food Programme, with Pineda sending the following message to his countrymen and women: “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Looking to the future, the Philippines will continue to concentrate efforts on rebuilding affected areas. In addition to receiving valuable assistance from local, regional and international partners, the Philippines will continue to rebuild, armed with the quintessential Pinoy spirit of resilience and ubiquitous Pinoy smile.