Defiant Philippine typhoon survivors welcome Christmas

Defiant Philippine typhoon survivors welcome Christmas

TACLOBAN, Philippines - Philippine survivors of one of the strongest typhoons ever to hit land on Tuesday defiantly prepared to celebrate Christmas in the ruins of their communities.

Hogs were being roasted, Christmas trees adorned streets, last-minute shoppers filled downtown and heavily damaged churches overflowed with parishioners on the eve of the country's most joyous holiday.

"Nothing can stop us from welcoming Christmas even though we have lost our home," 63-year-old butcher's wife Ellen Miano told AFP from a tiny shanty rising from a field of debris in the central city of Tacloban.

Haiyan's ferocious 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour winds flattened the gritty neighbourhood on Tacloban's coast, called Magallanes, then swept up everything else with giant waves in a day of terror on November 8.

Tacloban and nearby districts accounted for more than 5,000 of the 6,000-plus confirmed deaths, with nearly 2,000 others missing, making it the country's deadliest storm and one of its worst natural disasters.

Miano, who lives with her husband and four young nephews and nieces in the 2x3-metre (6x10-feet) hovel put together from salvaged wood and sheet metal, said the family would eat a traditional Christmas dinner at midnight, with fried noodles and sliced bread given to them by a relief agency.

Their 20-year-old neighbour Ronfrey Magdua built a giant, 4-metre-tall star-shaped lantern using salvaged wood and wrapped in the Philippine flag's motif of red, white and blue, and put it up in the yard of a family that perished in the disaster.

"I made this in honour of the dead," the jobless young man told AFP, saying he spent about 2,000 pesos (S57) of his own savings on the project.

"I made many of my neighbours happy. Some of them told me it relieves some of their stress," said Magdua, who lost a dozen distant relatives to the storm surge.

Some of the survivors have received small amounts of cash from the United Nations, the Philippine government and other aid organisations taking part in a scheme designed to revive the economy of devastated communities.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDINSIDER

SPONSORED

Most Read

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.