My trip to Tacloban was a few months overdue. My friend Emma and I initially planned the trip on December 2013, but I did not have enough funds back then. I finally got to save enough to be able to give something to some typhoon survivors by April.
I was nervous when I left home for Tacloban. The money that I had set aside for our activity was not in my bank account. I later found out that it was just because of the bank’s system maintenance. Later in the day, the money in my bank account even doubled. I thought it was a miracle! Ha! Everything was corrected after the maintenance.
During my brief layover in Cebu on my way to Tacloban, I had to meet my coolest friend in the world Jersie. She took me to breakfast and I had to give her money for the hotel reservation in Mactan. My itinerary forced me to spend Sunday night in Cebu before going home on Monday morning. Since I was only going to stay in the hotel for a few hours, I decided to let Jersie enjoy the room so I had the room booked under her name and asked her to check in in the afternoon. Unlike me though, Jersie does not enjoy being alone in a hotel room.
I was a little shocked when the plane landed in Tacloban. The airport’s pre-departure area looked like a waiting shed. There were no windows at all! My friend’s father fetched us from the airport and while we were driving, one could really say that Tacloban still needed help. People were still living in tents! There were still fallen streetlights on the street! This was how Negros looked like three days after the typhoon and yet Tacloban still looked like this a full five months after the typhoon.
When we got to Emma’s house, all the awkwardness in me showed. I never talked to anyone there. I was forced to talk to Emma’s mother because we had some business about my insurance to talk about but other than that, I really felt uncomfortable. Emma even invited me to just spend the night in her grandmother’s house. I thought if I didn’t feel comfortable spending the day there, how much more spending the night? It was not anyone’s fault at all but mine. I just feel awkward being around anyone I just met. I feel more uncomfortable being with a friend’s family. Sure I’m close to the family of a few friends, but this is very rare.
Since I couldn’t sleep at a friend’s house due to my own awkward reasons, I had to check in to Hotel XYZ. It was a nice cool little hotel in downtown Tacloban. Their elevator was not working at that time so we had to take the stairs going to my room on the fourth floor. The view from the window was not nice. The space between the wall and the window was full of trash. The television was also not working. These were all understandable issues considering that the hotel and the rest of the city were still trying to recover from the typhoon. I had a little fun with the mirror light in the bathroom.
We had a few business to do in the afternoon despite the rain. We had to buy new ferry tickets to be able to go back to Cebu the next day (Emma left our original tickets and we would have not made it to the plane if she went back for it). After having dinner with Emma’s friend, Cristy, we went to Jollibee to make arrangements for the food we were to give the next day.
We initially planned to cook the food on our own, but we decided it would be more convenient to just buy from a fast food restaurant. We realized that we did not have the cooking equipment and the manpower to cook food for at least 200 people.
I then went back to my hotel and slept at 7pm, so by 3am, I was already wide awake with nothing to do so I took some selfies. Emma and Cristy fetched me from the hotel early in the morning and then went to Jollibee to get the food we ordered. We had to wait for more than 2 hours while the crew was preparing the food. We asked if we could just bring the bottles of soda instead instead of them pouring it to individual cups, but they had to do that as what we were told.
The original plan was to cook food for the patients in a hospital. That did not happen so we decided to distribute the food in the orphanage, but when we got there, there were no children at all. We were told by the nun taking care of the orphanage that the children were transferred to Samar. So we went back to Emma’s house and somebody suggested we could just give it to the typhoon survivors living in the bunkhouses, so we went there and made some children happy. It was too painful though not being able to give food to everyone. There were still children begging after we ran out of food. I was thinking I could give P20 to each child but this would have been a bad idea. I only probably had a very small amount of extra money and I would still not be able to give money to everyone.
After our little activity, we went to Emma’s neighbor to watch the Pacquiao fight. I had fun watching the match but I was just too uncomfortable sitting in front of everyone.
I have to thank Emma’s family and friends in Tacloban. I really apologize if you ever thought I was rude by not talking. I just suddenly become mute when surrounded by people I just met. I apologize if I made people uncomfortable by not talking. In these situations, I really get an urge to talk but nothing comes out of my brain and my mouth. My mind simply shuts down.
We started our trip going back home in the afternoon. We had to take what felt like a four-hour ride from Tacloban to Ormoc. Had it not been my first time in Leyte, I would have suffered from motion sickness. The road was just incredibly winding. It was already early evening when we arrived in Ormoc. We then found out that the ferry we were to take going to Cebu was cancelled. The other ferry just left a few minutes before this announcement was made and the other ferry which was leaving in the next few hours was already fully booked. We were forced to wait until the ferry was about to leave and hoped that there were still extra seats for us in the ferry. Emma was about to give up and just wanted to spend the night in Ormoc, but I wasn’t – I had a plane to catch early in the morning and I did not have enough money to book another flight. Thankfully, we got to the ferry just fine.
Taking the next ferry also meant that I would not be able to spend my night in Cebu, so Jersie was left all alone in the hotel room. She hated it. When the ferry docked in Cebu, I had to immediately proceed to the airport. Jersie just went to the airport to give the doughnuts I asked her to buy as pasalubong for my family and friends back in Negros. She also had me drink two bottles of beer in 10 minutes so I was a little tipsy when I boarded the plane. She actually bought some snacks and beer for me which we were supposed to consume while in the hotel, but because of these unfortunate events, she brought them to me to the airport so thank you Jers!
I will probably be back in Tacloban to give more to the less fortunate there but I don’t know when. Maybe next year.
*featured image taken from rappler.com