How a super typhoon changed 5 people's lives

by Kathlyn dela Cruz, by

Posted at Jan 18 2014 01:03 AM | Updated as of Jan 18 2014 04:38 PM

MANILA -- When super typhoon "Yolanda" struck the central Philippines last November 8, it left scars on many people of Tacloban City in Leyte, which was the worst-hit area.

Ruby Aguilar, Rosalyn Separa, Elisa Obejas, Jay Cruz, and Al Borres are just five out of the millions of people who lost at least one family member and were left homeless after the super typhoon wreaked havoc in Eastern Visayas.

Speaking to ANC's "Storyline," each one of them recalled their ordeal.

Aguilar said he heard about Yolanda and how strong it was going to be from news reports on television, but he and his family chose to stay inside their home the night before the disaster struck.

Early morning on November 8, he recalled starting to feel the wrath of Yolanda.

"Yung hangin ang lakas tapos yung ulan parang bumabaon sa katawan mo," said Aguilar. His wife and two children aged 11 and 6 were with him.

Like Aguilar, Separa and her family -- husband and five children -- did not evacuate on the night of November 7, thinking that they would still have enough time to leave the next day.

'Di ko maipaliwanag iyung sakit'

When Yolanda slammed into Tacloban at around 4 a.m. on November 8, they said they could only hope and pray that all of them would survive.

They said waters quickly rose in minutes, so there was nothing they could do as they got washed away by the floods.

Separa said she had with her four of her kids while the other was with her husband.

"Nung nakakita ako ng malaking puno, parang nabuhayan ako. Sabi ko mabubuhay kami. Pero yung dala kong bata dalawa na lang, wala na yung dalawa," she said in tears.

Aguilar, meanwhile, said raging flood waters also took the life of his 6-year-old child.

"Pag nalaman mo yung nangyari sa anak mo, mabablangko ka na. Wala na, nahiga na lang ako tapos sinigaw ko yung pangalan niya, yun lang," he said.

"Di ko maipaliwanag... Six years lang, kukunin [na] sayo. Parang di ko maipaliwanag yung sakit," he added.

In another part of Tacloban, survivor Obejas and her five children went to an evacuation center before the typhoon struck, leaving behind her husband.

She said she did not expect that it would be the last time she would see her husband alive.

Borres also painfully recalled hearing the news that the only woman that he loved died during Yolanda's wrath.

He said the only thing that was left to him was his wallet, where he kept a picture of Nenita, the woman who wanted to be his wife.

"Umiyak na lang ako. Nawala sa akin yung pinakamamahal ko pati gamit ko... Ang natira na lang sa akin yung damit na suot-suot ko at wallet na pinakaingat-ingatan ko," he said.

For Cruz, meanwhile, he considers himself a bit "lucky" since although he lost his home, his wife, who was three months pregnant at that time, survived the tragedy.

Picking up the pieces

Over two months after the disaster, these five people, along with the other typhoon survivors, are trying to slowly pick up the pieces, hoping for a new beginning and a better life.

Like Obejas and Borres, many of the survivors are not only rising from the tragedy for themselves but more importantly, for their loved ones who perished.

"Pinipilit kong maging masaya para sa mga anak ko," Obejas said.

Borres, meanwhile, said: "Babangon ako hindi lang para sa akin kundi para sa kanya (Nenita)."