Typhoon Bopha - Case study: Maricel Tognasan and Wilma Pancho

Publié: 11 janvier 2013 11:37 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. Over 6 million people were affected. The town of Andap, in the region of Compostela Valley suffered the highest number of casualties. A flash flood killed over 400 people and a further 300 are still missing.

A month on from the typhoon and the Philippine Red Cross continues to help families in Andap. But many are struggling to come to terms with what happened to them. Maricel Tognasan, a single mother and her cousin, Wilma Pancho, a mother of three, are two women from Andap who share the same story.

Their laughter and smiles are contagious, yet when talking about their experience of the typhoon, the trauma and challenges they now face become evident.

“We are cousins but we know each other better than siblings do. Among all my cousins, she’s the closest one to my family. That’s why when I laugh, she also laughs,” says Maricel.

The women explain that their homes are uninhabitable because of the damage caused by the typhoon’s winds and the continuing rains.

“At first, it was really hard to accept that we had lost everything including our house and our livelihood. Whenever I think of the coming weeks, we will really have a hard time surviving because all our crops such as bananas, corn and coconuts were devastated,” says Maricel, suddenly breaking into tears. “This is the first time we got hit by a storm, we ask ourselves, ‘how do we start living again?’ But all we can do is accept this reality.”

The Red Cross was one of the first organisations to help their community and although Maricel and Wilma are thankful, they are concerned about their future. Maricel is stoic about the challenges they must confront together.

“Despite our losses, we will strive harder to slowly stand up from this crisis, until we get back to where we used to be,” she says.