My mother’s journey

Our house after the storm

As I sat up on our makeshift bed, which was made of a wet comforter and wet pillows laid on the floor, my heart broke. It wasn’t a dream after all.

It was a day after the storm, and I was still getting used to the fact that the strongest storm in the world damaged my hometown. The part of the window that was broken could easily peek onto our town, which was filled with washed out houses and trees on the road. The huge truck that “floated” towards the road was moved, which helped people to cross the road without difficulty. But the mess and the reminder of the storm were still there. 

The afternoon after the storm, one of my uncles came over and helped us with some of the mess. He fixed one of the gates to create some kind of security in our house. Our gas burner was luckily saved, and we scouted what we could yesterday from our grandmother’s store: canned goods, noddles and such. Since our kitchen was not passable yet, we could not reach our own canned goods. We had three jugs of clean drinking water which were luckily still sealed.

As the sun began to peak over the horizon, I began to make my way downstairs. It was not as messy as the day before, since we have moved some furniture around to let others pass through the living room easily. The two broken widows on either side of the door were covered with curtains. I began to boil water and cook breakfast, which was made of Spam and noodles. Our day was set to begin cleaning my grandmother’s house, whose furniture have stacked together. It was going to be a long day.

(Meanwhile, in a giant airplane a thousand miles up)

My eyes feel heavy as I wait inside the military plane. Beside me were men and volunteers on route towards Tacloban, my hometown. Since the storm hit yesterday I have been sleepless, trying to calm myself. I have lost communication with my daughter since the storm, and the news of how devastating it was worsened my worry for my family. Through multiple connections I managed to get a flight in a C130 military plane, the second plane to reach Tacloban since the storm. I only had two hours of sleep, listening to the news and looking out for any sign that they would be okay.

Soldiers beside me began to gasp and curse, so I took a peek from the window. What I saw was simply heartbreaking: everything in Tacloban seemed to be washed out. The moonlight shone on the sea, giving light to the pieces of wood that once held up houses. The airport that we were going to land on was not the same as before, the control tower and the main building missing windows and roofs. 

When I got off the plane, a cold chill went up my spine. I grabbed my luggage as I made my way towards the exit of the airport, which was practically missing. With no phone service I could not contact anyone to fetch me from the airport, so I began to walk. There were no leaves in the trees, the roads covered with furniture, wood and other things that belong in a house. There were dead bodies lined up on the road, covered with cloth. I did my best to not look at them, their family members mourning beside them. 

After a few minutes I spot a familiar face, and I called him immediately. He was my friend and a known philanthropist, riding in a black motorcycle. He was a heaven sent savior for me, as he offered to give me a ride home. Faces of my kids began to flash in my mind, worrying immensely of their safety. My heart sank when I thought of my mother and sister, who were under the care of my kids. 

When we were halfway to the house, the motorcycle suddenly ran out of gas. My friend promised to come back for me, leaving me in a building for shelter. It was a place I would pass by everyday, but it looked foreign as there was no more roof or windows. I waited for what seemed like hours, determined to get home. My friend finally arrived a while later, and we made our way home. Left and right I would see the houses that were barely there, fallen tree trunks and roofs on the pavement. I saw the school that my kids went to, barely recognizable. I shivered as I saw an arm sticking out of a rubble, frozen and turning black. 

As my house came to view, I saw that there were no roof nor windows on the house that I lived my whole life in. Trees and furniture were outside, the gate broken and it looked like no one was home. I immediately rushed to my own house, and saw the destruction. My breathing and heart rate hitched up as it looked ghostly, and my throat seemed to close up.


I began to call. A thousand thoughts began to enter my head, one of them concluding that I didn’t have my eldest daughter in that house. I was scared that someone would say “Le-an is not here anymore”. But I steeled myself as I tried to make my voice louder.


There was a pause, maybe the longest pause of my life. But the best feeling washed over me as I heard her voice.


As I mentioned on my previous blog, my mom was in Manila during the storm as she was called for a work training. She told us her story on how she got home, a very inspirational story of how a determined mother did everything to come home. I love my mom. <3

Here are some pictures, as promised:

These pictures were during the first day, right after the storm.

These pictures were during the first day, right after the storm.

These pictures were during the first day, right after the storm.

This was on the second day, after we’ve cleaned up a bit. Still, the damage was devastating.

This was on the second day, after we’ve cleaned up a bit. Still, the damage was devastating.

This was on the second day, after we’ve cleaned up a bit. Still, the damage was devastating.
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18 Replies to “My mother’s journey”

  1. Such devastation and so many things lost in the storm. Thank goodness you and your family are safe. Things can be replaced, lives can&#39;t.

  2. I knew things weren&#39;t looking good but I never thought it became this bad. I pray that hopefully everything will get back to how it used to be – it will be definitely be a lot of work though…

  3. These images are just devastating and my heart goes out to all of you. It is just so difficult to wrap your head around when you see so much destruction at the hands of Mother Nature. My prayers are with all of you.

  4. Wow, I&#39;m glad your mom is okay. Thanks for sharing pictures.

  5. It looks so devastating! I can&#39;t imagine going through something like that. Thanks for the pictures!

  6. wow, a picture is worth a thousand words and there are no words to describe this devastation. I am so sorry that you and you family and friends are having to endure this suffering. God bless you all.

  7. My heart broke as I read this. I am so sorry you and so many people are living this nightmare right now. Please try to be safe and take care.

  8. I cannot express to you how happy I am that your mother came home and found all of you safe. Thank you for sharing your mother&#39;s journey home.

  9. It must have been horrid not just for those at home but for your Mum so far away with no communication. Bless her for managing to get home to you. x

  10. I am so incredibly sorry that you&#39;ve had to experience that. The damage is just awful, but I&#39;m ever so grateful you&#39;re safe!

  11. Oh Le-an! I am so sorry that you and your family had to go through this! I will keep you all in my thoughts and pray that you get some quick relief. Thank goodness your mom was able to make it home safely.

  12. Every time I see pictures of what happened and think about what everyone is going through, I can not help but cry. Your mother&#39;s determination is amazing, the love she has for her children had to have given her the strength to make her way home. I am amazed she got there to be honest. I am so glad you and your family are okay, but will keep praying that you remain okay.

  13. I hate that you had so much destruction but I am super glad your family is safe.

  14. So scary but glad your mum got to you and glad you are safe,take care

  15. Wow, I am so sorry to see what happened to you!

  16. Such heart breaking photos. I&#39;m glad your mom and family are ok

  17. This post made me so teary-eyed. So glad everyone was OK. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

  18. My heart goes to all those affected by the storm

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