ACLOBAN CITY-High school teacher Bernadette Tenegra, 44, would never forget the last words of her daughter.
"Ma, just let go. Save yourself," said the girl, whose body was pierced by wooden splinters from houses crushed by Supertyphoon "Yolanda."
"I was holding her and I kept telling her to hang on, that I was going to bring her up. But she just gave up," said Tenegra, her face contorted in grief.
The sun was shining only hours after the deadly landfall of the monster typhoon, casting a clearer light on the misery that had descended upon the city on Friday and the Tenegra home on the bank of a river.
Yolanda cut through Tacloban like a scythe, sending walls of water across the downtown area in a furious rush, toppling power lines and felling houses, wrecking trucks and cars totally and, in many many cases, ending lives.
Dozens of corpses turned up under piles of rubble. Some bodies lined the roadside, covered in blankets, staining the pavement with bright red blood.
People with missing relatives tentatively approached each one, peeking at the faces. One tearful man shook his head, muttering, "Not him." Two teenage boys openly wept when they found what they were looking for: the body of their dead father.
The Tenegra family had huddled together in their shanty at Barangay (village) 66-Paseo de Legazpi, believing it could weather the storm as it had always done in the past.
But as the water rose with astonishing speed, the house toppled over, sweeping away the occupants, including Tenegra's husband and her other daughter. They were able to scramble to safety, but the youngest Tenegra was spun around by the current along with the deadly debris.
"I crawled over to her, and I tried to pull her up. But she was too weak. It seemed she had already given up," the mother said.
"And then I just let go," she said, crying.
Mute shock was etched on the faces of survivors, many of whom were unfamiliar with storms as fierce as this one.