Teresa was born in Malate, in central Manila. She went to school there and attended Mapua Institute of Technology, where Lina was her teacher and faculty adviser in the university Christian fellowship. After graduating as an industrial engineer, Teresa worked in a trading company and then in missions.   Her parents returned to their ancestral home in Antique Province on the island of Panay in the western Visayas. She followed in 2002 to take care of them. Her father died some years ago and her mother last year, and she stays on in the town of Bugasong, where we found her a week ago. She and Lina had not seen each other since 1983.

Teresa lived in a “bahay kubo” made entirely of bamboo and thatch. (See https://orionblair.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/bahay-kubo-house/ for more on the bahay kubo.)   Supertyphoon Yolanda roared through in November, 2013.  By the time Yolanda reached Bugasong, it had crossed westward over the islands of Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Negros and Panay.

Teresa, her son Gospel and her mother were at home when the storm hit. Their pastor carried her mother out of the house (against her wishes!) to a safer place while Teresa and Gospel stayed in the house. Winds of 125+ mph ripped the roof off so they covered their belongings with plastic to protect them from rain. Four hours later, when the winds abated, the house was leaning over.

Unlike some of their neighbors, Teresa and her husband (a seaman with Royal Caribbean Cruises, who was away at the time) decided not to rebuild their bahay kubo but instead to replace it with a house of cinder blocks and a galvanized metal roof attached to steel trusses. Teresa and Jonathan had saved much of the money for their new house but needed to borrow for the trusses. They mortgaged a family rice field to a lender, who takes their crop for 3 years as interest and expects the principal back at the end of that time. Teresa awaits a payment of 10,000 pesos (approximately $225) from the government, the standard amount paid out for partially damaged homes.

The walls were up, the roof on, water and electricity working well. We had a lovely stay. It was not so comfortable during the construction process, when the family slept in an outbuilding once used by the pigs. However, she did not complain of her lot. The destruction here was minor compared to that in Tacloban, where so many lost their lives in a “perfect storm” of wind, rain and tidal wave.

On a trip to the eastern side of Panay, Lina and I visited May, a friend of Mary Potter from Jaffrey and a social worker with the Department of Social Work & Development. May took us to the home of Neneng, a mother of 6 whose small house was damaged by Yolanda.  The walls were built higher and a new metal roof put on in the last year.   We went to May’s church, of which nothing remains except cement pillars, one pulled sideways by the force of the wind tearing the roof and walls off.   The congregation now meets in a “house church” next door.  Finally we visited a day care center with its roof partially ripped off. The children come to day care here, except when it’s raining.  They have no teaching materials: paper, pencils, the things we so take for granted in the US.  The DSWD still awaits the money to repair the roofs of this and other centers, and it will be months before homeowners receive payments for partial or total damage from the 2013 storm.

I wonder why aid is taking so long to get to these rural areas. It is in part because of the sheer number of cases and the painstaking paper work that must be submitted for each one. Boxes of documentation sit in May’s office ready to be sent to the provincial capital and then to Manila for final approval.

There is also distrust of the local governments. May tells us her town has a very good mayor, honest and competent. He has seen to it that relief supplies were promptly and fairly distributed. On the other hand, the mayor of a neighboring town diverted shipments of used clothing, intended for typhoon victims, to his own used clothing business on another island.  Corrupt officials create a climate of distrust, and that only makes it harder for the honest ones to get the help they need quickly.

If you would like to read more about the effect of Supertyphoon Yolanda on Tacloban, where it made landfall, you can read my posts from one year ago:

https://orionblair.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/resilience-tacloban-1-february-7-2014/

Lina and Teresa

Lina and Teresa

Yolanda crossed these mountains to reach Panay's west coast

Yolanda crossed these mountains to reach Panay’s west coast

Teresa's new house

Teresa’s new house

Teresa's sister lives in a hybrid kubo: note the metal roof on one side

Teresa’s sister lives in a hybrid kubo: note the metal roof on one side

Lina, Teresa, her brother and Gospel

Lina, Teresa, her brother and Gospel

May, Neneng and her family and Lina in front of the repaired house.  The top two rows of blocks are new.

May, Neneng and her family and Lina in front of the repaired house. The top two rows of blocks are new.

Oysters are cultivated in the nearby ocean.   They attach themselves to these strings of shells hung from bamboo poles.

Oysters are cultivated in the nearby ocean. They attach themselves to these strings of shells hung from bamboo poles.

A midden of oyster shells next to Neneng's house

A midden of oyster shells next to Neneng’s house

All that remains of May's church are cement pillars, one leaning over.

All that remains of May’s church are cement pillars, one leaning over.

The new "house church", an extension built onto a home

The new “house church”, an extension built onto a home

Inside the house church

Inside the house church

The child care center in Purok (Ward) 6 of Balantian

The child care center in Purok (Ward) 6 of Balantian

Open to the air

Open to the air

Inside the child care center: no materials

Inside the child care center: no materials

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