Saturday, November 1, 2014

Remembering Guiuan before Typhoon Yolanda



At 4:40 a.m. on November 8, 2013, the strongest recorded typhoon to have made landfall hit the shores of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. The town was never the same after that. 

It would take years before many of us could get over the devastation brought by Typhoon Yolanda. Unfortunately for many people in that town, maybe never.

With the magnitude of its strength and gust, Yolanda's wrath was unimaginable. Watching the horrific scenes of its aftermath shown in the news was heartbreaking.

I wept along with the shocked and wretched nation.

When I first heard in the news about a strong impending typhoon that's going to make its first landfall in Guiuan, the first thing that I thought of were the people I met living in the coastal village in Calicoan Island, the southernmost tip of the town. I reckon the dangers that they will have to face as the eye of the typhoon hit their area.

It took days before help reached Guiuan and before the world witnessed the severe damage Yolanda brought to its shore. When authorities arrived, they saw the extent of damage -- almost every building was deroofed, including the designated typhoon shelters, church, hospital and gymnasium. 


Aerial view of the destruction in Guiuan after Yolanda made landfall 
Photo: Rappler.com/AFP/Ted Aljibe
But unlike its neighboring towns and cities, many lives were spared and death toll was relatively low. Guiuan lost 110 lives and about 3,625 people were injured.

After Yolanda, Guiuan was very different from what I have seen when I visited April of last year. The typhoon changed the landscape, people and history of the town.

A year after, I'd like to remember this beautiful town -- the waves in Calicoan Island were some of the best I've surfed ever, the people I met there were some of the kindest during my trips, and my stay at Surf Camp was definitely one of my favorites.
  • Fishing village. Most of the local people in Calicoan Island, Guiuan are engaged in fishing, and while men are out in the sea, the women busy themselves with selling dried/fresh fish and accessories made from shells. 





  • Seeing the low-lying villages. The island of Calicoan is a small coastal village, and seeing fishermen in their boats moving towards the shore after a day's catch is a normal sight. The road going there was well-paved, and the houses lined along the road  were mostly made of nipa.







  • Religion. I visited Saint Anthony de Padua Church in Barangay Sulangan which stands across the beach. Many people flock there because they believe praying to Saint Anthony de Padua provide some miracles, thus, making it one of the most visited churches in Guiuan.



  • Surfing. ABCD Beach in Calicoan Island is one the best reef break spots in the Philippines.  I could imagine the gigantic waves that swept its shores when Yolanda struck. Somehow, it's comforting to know that thousands survived it.


  • Surf Camp. I saw online how severely damaged Surf Camp was after Yolanda. How unfortunate that Guiuan got badly hit at the time when  it's already starting to make a name in surfing. I remember talking to the manager of the resort and just hearing some of his exciting plans for the town made me look forward to going back there. I really hope to see Surf Camp again.








Guiuan is not entirely unfamiliar with calamities or disasters. The roaring and daunting waves of its shore are constant reminders of its proximity to danger. But the people there knows how to prepare, and they rise strong from every devastation. Time and again. 

How to get to (Calicoan Island), Guiuan, Eastern Samar:

By plane: Take a commercial flight to Tacloban City (Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines Express, PAL). From Tacloban, hop in a van (Duptuours or Van-Vans) going to Guiuan (3 hours travel time). From Guiuan proper, rent a trike going to ABCD Beach in Calicoan Island (45 mins travel time)


By bus: Manila to Guiuan via Silverstar/Eaglestar/Fortune Bus lines at Cubao

By car: MANILA to GUIUAN (Manila to Matnog, Sorsogon- ride RORO (1,600php) to Allen , Northern Samar- drive to Eastern Samar- Guiuan




2 comments:

  1. I lived in Dolores Eastern Samar 3 months every year nipa on the beach! I moved to Tanaunan next to Emeldia -Olot. Many people in so many places lost soooooooooo much! Places I would bring 2-3 balikbyan boxes of clothing /food & medical, as their hearts and I grew bigger upon my returs. I pray others don't forget? I also caught lobster N of Giuaun in a small brgy of Asgod! Ohhhhhhhh, how I miss Philippines cause ya know~~~~~ IT'S MORE FUN :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I lived in Dolores Eastern Samar 3 months every year nipa on the beach! I moved to Tanaunan next to Emeldia -Olot. Many people in so many places lost soooooooooo much! Places I would bring 2-3 balikbyan boxes of clothing /food & medical, as their hearts and I grew bigger upon my returs. I pray others don't forget? I also caught lobster N of Giuaun in a small brgy of Asgod! Ohhhhhhhh, how I miss Philippines cause ya know~~~~~ IT'S MORE FUN :)

    ReplyDelete

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