Typhoon Bopha - Case study: Pablo E. Villafane and Gibertz V. Luas

Published: 11 January 2013 11:33 CET

On 4 December 2012, Typhoon Bopha tore through communities on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. It was the worst disaster to hit the country in the past year, affecting more than 6 million people. One month later, thousands of families are still struggling to rebuild their lives.

One of the communities that was severely affected by the typhoon is a place called Monkayo, in the region of Compostela Valley. Tucked away from the main road, the majority of people in this community rely on farming of rice, bananas and coconuts for their livelihoods. Amongst them are Gibertz V. Luas and her father, Pablo E Villafane.

“We were informed by local officials that a storm was coming, but knowing that my parents have lived here for a long time and no typhoon has ever been here, we disregarded the warnings,” Gibertz says.  “Later on, flood water began to rise up and mud entered our house, gusts of wind came from all directions.”

Pablo’s farm was devastated by the storm. The family salvaged what few possessions they could and then sold them in order to rent a chainsaw to help repair their home.

“We are thankful for all the help Red Cross has given to us. For now, our food depends on the relief goods we receive,” Gibertz says.

The assistance the Philippine Red Cross is providing helps, but the Villafane family are still in a state of shock, as are their neighbours and it is evident that long-term support will be needed to help them to piece their lives back together.

“I can’t understand how everything happened in one day – our house falling down and our farm washed out.”