Violent winds from Typhoon Odette (Rai) on the evening of Dec. 16, 2022 tore off roofs, blew flimsy structures to pieces, toppled utility posts and flattened communities in Cebu and Bohol provinces in Central Visayas.
Power, water and telecommunications services were cut off. Long queues formed in gasoline stations, ATMs, supermarkets, charging stations and co-working spaces as the affected population picked up the pieces after the typhoon.
Most affected by the typhoon were those who have little to no access to basic services and commodities, and those who do not have the resources to quickly fix their homes, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) noted.
Based on RAFI’s assessment, the towns that were hit hardest in Cebu were Tuburan, Balamban, Barili, Pinamungajan, Badian, Alegria, Ronda, Alcantara, Dumanjug, Moalboal, Malabuyoc, Samboan, Alcoy, Argao, Toledo City and Sibonga in south Cebu; and Compostela, Carmen, Catmon and Danao City in the north.
In Bohol, many communities in the towns of Clarin, Inabanga and Sagbayan were devastated.
The RAFI staff and volunteers buckled down to work within a few days after the storm to bring help to the most affected families and individuals in Cebu and Bohol. Teams were deployed to conduct rapid assessments and determine areas for priority assistance.
Donors stepped forward with cash and in-kind contributions. Volunteers worked double-time to organize relief packs for distribution.
A relief pack consists of rice, canned sardines and corned beef, noodles and six liters of drinking water, just enough for a family of four over for about two days.
Sandra (not her real name) was among those whose houses were destroyed by the powerful typhoon in Aloguinsan, about 57 kilometers (km) southwest of Cebu City.
“This Christmas is sad and unforgettable,” Sandra said as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Her family went hungry after the typhoon, even on Christmas Day. They were able to enjoy a full meal only when a relief mission reached their community.
The family had to spend the day queueing for and fetching water from the few hand pumps that they could find some distance from their devastated home. There was no potable water, except when some donors arrived to provide the residents with bottled water for a day or two.
Before the New Year, Sandra’s family received a few pieces of plywood and G.I. sheets, but these were not enough yet to rebuild their homes. They ended up sleeping on these housing materials at night.
Sandra did not lose hope.
“Pasalamat lang mi nga wala’y nakalas namo sa kakusog adtong bagyoha. Hinay-hinay mi’ng mobangon. Apan lisod gyod, lisod kaayo (We’re grateful that we all survived. We’ll slowly recover. But it’s hard, really hard),” she said in between sniffles.
Roseline, a resident of Pinamungajan town, was just as grateful despite the devastation caused by the typhoon. Pinamungajan is more than 59 km southwest of Cebu City
“Pasalamat gihapon mi nga buhi mi tanan. Naka-celebrate man mi sa Pasko bisan ginagmay lang (We’re thankful that we all survived. We were able to celebrate Christmas, albeit simply),” she said.
On New Year’s Day, they made do with what they had, such as cans of sardines and instant noodles.
Helen lives in another barangay in Pinamungajan. Her home was also destroyed by the storm. The family has made a makeshift shanty where their house used to stand.
“Wa lang mi moadto sa evacuation center kay mahadlok man pod mi kawaton unya ning among mga butang. Amo lang pod gibantayan kay mao ra gyod ni ang nahabilin namo (We didn’t go to the evacuation center because our belongings might get stolen. These are all we have left, you see),” she told the RAFI staff.
Roseline and Helen were among the millions of typhoon-weary Cebuanos who were hoping for better days.
Wendel Casquejo, a fisherman, lost his bangka (outrigger boat) and his home to the strong winds of Typhoon Odette.
Without his bangka, which was his only means of livelihood, he has resorted to doing odd jobs to be able to feed his family and rebuild their lives after the typhoon.
For now, his focus is to survive each day until he is able to acquire a new bangka, go fishing again and get back on his feet.
Dondie Macan also lost his bangka and fishing gear during the typhoon.
With no way to earn money, Macan said he had to rely on donations from organizations to get by.
He remained thankful that he and his family survived the storm.
“Akong pangandoy nga makatukod kog akong pumpboat na kaugalingon. Kay mao ra gyud ni among panginabuhi gud para sa akong mga anak ba, 'nya wala man koy kwarta ikaapud (My dream is to build my own pumpboat. This is my only means of livelihood and the only thing that I can leave my children since I have no money ,” he said.
Casquejo and Macan are among the fishermen and residents of the coastal town of Cordova who have suffered greatly from the typhoon.
Cordova town has been identified as one of the beneficiaries of RAFI’s Emergency Relief Operations to help typhoon-stricken communities. More than 2,000 relief packs have been distributed to affected residents.
The RAFI said it will continue to distribute relief packs to typhoon-stricken residents of Cebu and Bohol.
Volunteers are busy repacking daily at the Kabilin Center and Casa Gorordo Museum located across the RAFI main office.
As of Jan. 18, 2022, RAFI has already distributed a total of 126,113 relief packs worth P63,056,000 in affected communities in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Occidental and Southern Leyte.
The foundation has so far raised P37,835,937 in cash and pledges from individual donors and organizations. It has spent P81,930,111 for its emergency relief operations, including its counterpart funds of P44,094,174.
RAFI said it is open for partnerships. Its Donation Hub is open for donations and support from local and international organizations as well as from individual donors. Donations will be used for the provision of immediate relief of affected families and communities.
Interested partners may contact RAFI through their email address firstname.lastname@example.org or through (63 32) 265-5914 (landline), (63 917) 633 2936 (Globe) and (63 933) 879 2966 (Sun). (MTVI/Ventures Cebu)