Ten Years On: Typhoon Haiyan’s Legacy of Resilience and Renewal
Written by: Reiza S. Dejito (CARE Philippines)
Ten years ago, Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda, roared through the central islands of the archipelago. It was a storm that would go down in history as one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded. Today, we stand a decade removed from the devastation, yet the memories remain, etched into the heart of every survivor and every humanitarian effort that rose from the rubble. Maria Theresa “Tess” Bayombong, a Program Consultant for CARE Philippines, offers a stirring retrospective of the resilience, recovery, and rebirth in the aftermath of the super typhoon.
Tess’ Recollections: Solidarity Amidst Ruins: “When I first set foot in the typhoon-stricken village of San Miguel, Leyte, the destruction was unimaginable,” Tess begins. “But amidst this landscape of despair, what moved me were not the signs of destruction but the signs of unity and human spirit.” She witnessed a community coming together, embodying the Filipino spirit of “bayanihan”—helping hands and hopeful hearts working in unison to rebuild, even as they carried the weight of their own losses.
In photo: Ms. Tess Bayombong
“Their gratitude for the simple necessity of roofing materials was a powerful reminder of human resilience,” Tess recalls. “Even when our resources could not reach everyone, the community took it upon themselves to share what little they had, ensuring no one was left unprotected from the elements. This collective sacrifice and kindness were truly inspiring.”
Impact and Adaptation: The CARE Response: Tess reflects on the long-term impact Haiyan had on the people’s livelihoods, especially in areas like Leyte where coconut farming was not just a job but a way of life passed down through generations. “Seeing the women of these communities, who had lost the very tools of their trade, come together to learn new skills and rebuild their livelihoods was a testament to their indomitable will,” she notes.
CARE’s adaptive humanitarian response played a pivotal role in this transformation. From immediate life-saving assistance to supporting long-term self-recovery, CARE’s three-phase approach was not only practical but deeply empathetic. Tess speaks proudly of the organization’s efforts in providing technical assistance, training, and financial support that empowered women and rejuvenated local economies.
Lessons Learned: Shaping Future Responses: The greatest lessons come from the hardest experiences. Tess emphasizes that the most crucial takeaway from the Typhoon Haiyan response was the effectiveness of a phased, adaptable approach in emergency response. “It was about listening to the needs of the community and responding in a way that supported not just survival but sustainable growth and self-sufficiency.”
This experience has indelibly shaped CARE’s approach to disaster preparedness and response. Gender-responsive strategies and financial assistance have helped pave the way for a future where communities are not only ready to face emergencies but are also equipped to thrive afterward.
A Beacon of Hope for Tomorrow: As we commemorate the ten-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, we don’t just look back; we look forward, carrying the lessons and stories of strength with us. Tess’ account is a beacon of hope—an illumination of the path forward marked by solidarity, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to empowerment and preparedness.
“Typhoon Haiyan was a story of loss, but more importantly, it was a story of hope, of communities coming together, of women taking charge of their destinies, and of an organization that stood by them,” Tess concludes. “Today, we remember, we honor, and we continue to build a more resilient future.”