Philstar.com spotlights issues faced by ‘Yolanda’ survivors, eight years after
CHEERS TO Philstar.com for its two-part series on the state of ‘Yolanda’ survivors eight years after the disaster. The first part reminded the public issues on relocation and resettlement that remain vexed with problems for those who had to flee their homes in vulnerable coastal sites. The second part connected the problems of grassroots communities to the overall impact of climate change.
This in-depth report set itself apart from the token coverage by other news organizations by moving more closely to the on-the ground situation of affected families; connecting this to the bigger crisis of climate change. The report was published last November 8, the date Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit in 2013, killing at least 6,300 people and forcing 750,000 people to flee their homes.
In the first part, Philstar.com’s Geela Garcia shared the stories of Lerma Maceda, Christine Badanoy, and Marilyn Delingon, women survivors of the disaster, who are still dealing with the difficulties of resettlement, the lack of livelihood and access to basic services such as water and electricity in relocation areas.
Livelihood is a paramount concern. It has forced people who have been relocated to live part of the time in areas where they are nearer work, such as the Downtown district of Tacloban where many find ways to earn a living. Otherwise, these workers need to spend more on transportation as most relocation sites are farther up north.
Being one of the over 4 million people who has yet to receive a housing unit, Maceda still lives in a house “originally built for pigs and chickens.” Despite this, Maceda still thinks that “a nine-peso jeepney ride away from Downtown where she works, is better than paying PHP 25-30 for a half an hour commute if she moves to the relocation sites around Northern Tacloban.”
Badanoy has already benefited from the government housing project. Five years since moving in, however, her house still has no running water. Only members of a local cooperative are allowed to run sari-sari stores, but as a non-member, she still risked setting up her own just to get by.
Delingon shares the concern of expensive transportation, opting to stay on the coastal area where she has the family’s boat, and visits the relocation site only on weekends or during storms and bad weather.
The second part tries to link the situation to the need to engage grassroots communities to the issues of climate change. She points out “how the most vulnerable to the climate crisis are often excluded from discussions and negotiations to address it.” Garcia cited youth advocates who call for intensive education on renewable energy and just energy transition, saying that alternative energy should be more easily understood by affected communities. She quotes Xian Guevarra, national coordinator of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP): “but the burden of educating the people in climate adaptation strategies, renewable energy, and disaster risk management shouldn’t just rest on civilians and non-profits but also the state.” All these relevant points should have been expanded by more sources around the country who are also working on integrating awareness of climate change in terms of changes in lifestyle for all communities.
What’s the role of government in all this? The answer may be found in the high-level climate negotiations now happening in Glasgow, Scotland, which have been criticized in international news coverage as the most “non-inclusive” summit yet for the lack of representation from civil society and climate change activists. Filipinos know that when their own experiences are not considered, government policy tends to be punitive, blaming the people for their failure to comply with its directives.
With the Philippines expected to be among countries to suffer most from the consequences of the climate crisis, Philstar.com’s report should provoke more journalists to be in touch with the communities directly affected by extreme weather events. Whether or not government takes the lead, the media should use the lens of climate change in reporting development projects, dissect the competing goals of growth and development and assist the national community in making a collective decision to address the problem for the greater good of all.