Philippines: Yolanda Fights Back
Published on 8 July 2014

Yolanda Quiroz, 48, is helping clear their canals in Brgy. Aparicio through WFP’s Cash-For-Assets.


Photo: WFP Philippines/ Dale Rivera

Typhoon Yolanda destroyed homes and crops when it came to Ibajay, Aklan. This is the story of Yolanda, Bernabe and Felix - three residents from three villages - typhoon survivors who are fighting back to rebuild their lives.

IBAJAY, AKLAN – “We were scared. The winds were really strong. The roof of our house, which was made of nipa, was blown away. When the roof was gone, my family and I were all drenched.”

This was how Yolanda Quiroz, 48, from Barangay(village) Aparicio, recounted her experience when the typhoon of her namesake, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), swept through the Philippines last November 2013. 

Across the province of Aklan, Typhoon Yolanda left pockets of destruction. 

In Ibajay, many homes were destroyed due to strong winds. “Lots of houses got damaged. The people here had to rebuild,” shared Bernabe Magapan, 47, from Barangay Naligusan.

Aklan man rebuilding community

Now, eight months after Typhoon Yolanda struck, various communities in Ibajay are rebuilding their lives through communal work with assistance from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). WFP has implemented a Cash-For-Assets (CFA) programme in three areas in Ibajay – Naligusan, Aparicio, and Mabusao – to restore vital assets in these communities as well as help provide much-needed income to the residents. The residents work for thirty days across two months for the CFA programme to help fill the income gap caused by Typhoon Yolanda.The typhoon also exacerbated their already modest earnings. Various crops, the main source of income of most Aklanons, were wiped out. “The typhoon was here for just a few hours, but the winds were so strong that it destroyed our coconut trees,” Yolanda said.

community residents pose around the work they have done

In Barangay Aparicio, members of the Aparicio Agrarian Reform Cooperative rehabilitated roads and bridges destroyed by landslides, and established a tree seedling nursery. The community has already cleared the landslide-destroyed roads so it is now passable. They have also replanted some seedlings at roadside and other areas to prevent further landslides in their area. “This is bayanihan,” said Bernabe. “No one here is forced to work. We ourselves believe that if we help each other, if we get our lands irrigated, then our lives will improve. We are proud of our work.”

“Everyone is willing to work,” shared Yolanda. “Even though the labour is difficult particularly for us women, we enjoy it, especially since this is a big help to us.

In Barangay Mabusao, residents have riprapped the river embankment to mitigate flooding in their community. They have built 70 meters of the embankment of the Maloco River.

With the PhP245 (approximately USD6) a day income that the CFA participants received for their work, they bought essentials items for their families such as food, school supplies, and medicines. “I collect and bring stones to the riverbed, to protect houses nearby ,” explained Mabusao resident Felix Magwali, 35. “I am so happy that I am contributing with my work and effort to the benefits of my barangay.” 

Felix Magwali, close up

As the CFA work ended last June and residents already got paid for their work this July, they now have fuller pockets to help tide them over while the whole community is slowly recovering and preparing themselves for the future.

“We are so thankful to the World Food Programme and also to DAR,” said Yolanda. “It’s a blessing that there’s this Cash-For-Assets because we are also able to help our community.”

WFP Offices
About the author

Faizza Tanggol

Communications Officer

@FaizzaTanggol is the communications officer at the WFP Philippines' Manila country office.