Typhoon Survivors: The Guimoc Family

Almost a month after Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Visayas region of the Philippines, WFP's Angeli Mendoza visited communities in the Leyte province, meeting people who were being assisted by WFP and the government. Among the people she met she saw great resilience and a determination to rebuild. This is one of the people she met. Read about others

When you talk to Edita Guimoc and her family, you would never think that they just survived Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda), the strongest typhoon ever to hit the globe this year.

The 53-year-old matriarch and her kin sat idly at their slightly battered veranda, chatting happily under the afternoon sun. Three families, comprising a total of 10 people, live in their house.

“We voluntarily evacuated to the market and stayed there for a night. The area of our house is located between two rivers – Hibuga River and Talisay River – and it flooded up to here,” Edita said while pointing to the water marks on the wall which was almost a meter high.

“Our house shook, as if the wind was going to take it up in the air,” she narrated. “When the roof at the back of our house got ripped off, that’s when we got scared.”

“We didn’t get scared. We just cried!” piped in Edisel, her 28-year-old daughter. “I think it was actually a mixture of nervousness, hunger and the biting cold,” she added laughing.

“Still we were quite lucky because we were able to keep a sack of rice safe from the floods,” said Edita.

The Guimoc family has since received four rounds of food assistance through their barangay. WFP rice is being dispatched through the government’s relief operations led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and through WFP’s NGO partners on the ground.

Edita displaying a line on her wall where the water had reached

Edita pointing to the height of the flood.
Photo: WFP/Anthony Lim

Edita acknowledges the big help that the food assistance gives to her family of 10, especially since Nestor, her husband, has been a bum for two years now. She tries to sustain their family by selling vegetables. Although, with the supply routes blocked at the moment, she is finding herself spending more on transportation costs just to bring in vegetables to sell at the market.

“I definitely won’t leave, this is our home. But I am wondering if my daughters should find a job in other places, because right now, there’s nothing left here. I’m worried that when the relief operations stop, we might go hungry,” she said.

Before the typhoon, Edisel was running a copier business out of their home, earning enough money to buy milk and other necessities for her four-year-old daughter, Meg. However, since electricity has not been restored, her small business has stalled to a complete stop.

Nonetheless, at the very least, things are still looking up for the family. Thanks to Nestor’s handiwork, they have been able to fix the gap on their roof.

“The blacksmith was free, we only had to pay for the Vulcaseal!”, shrieked Edisel with laughter.

Electrifying others with her good mood, Edita nodded in agreement and laughingly added “yes, we all turned dark brown from walking around the neighborhood and looking for spare iron sheets!”

When I asked about the secret to their happiness despite everything that has happened, Edisel exclaimed, “You know we’re really like this…because if you’re serious, then you’ll just feel sad and worry about your damaged house.”

True enough, as I left their home, I could still here them cackling, infecting the warm afternoon with their delight.