By the time you read this we’ve already left Tacloban and are in beautiful Bohol. If you’ve been following our journey on Facebook and Instagram you’ll know that we’ve been thoroughly enjoying our travels though the Philippines, but we’re also sad to say goodbye to our temporary home in Tacloban. Over the last 5 months we’ve been blessed to be able to work alongside the resilient and determined people of Tacloban, as they work to rebuild their lives after devastating super typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.
Apart from coming to the Philippines to enjoy the sensational hospitality and soak in the sun on some of the world’s greatest beaches, we came here with the goal of contributing to the redevelopment of Tacloban. When we first heard about the typhoon back in November 2013 we were working with a small environmental non-profit in Colombia. Like all around the world we were saddened to hear about the events of Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) and we were determined to make it to Tacloban at some stage to contribute what we could.
In April 2015 we got that chance when our plane touched down at DZR airport and we were thrust headfirst into daily Taclobanon life. We began working for a small non-profit and learning from the community about what they needed most. During our 5 months in Tacloban we were fortunate enough to be involved in many amazing projects. We worked alongside some truly inspiring community members that have showed us once again why community development work is our true calling.
Having the opportunity to work so closely with this community has shown us first hand the kind, open and giving nature of Filipino culture. It has taught us more about greeting each stranger like a new friend, about the power of local community, and about how to drink tuba (coconut alcohol) and sing karaoke louder than we ever thought we would. In our time here we made many local friends that shared with us their accounts of the terrifying events that occurred during Yolanda: their tales and their openness showed us the true resilience and strength of these proud people.
Out of all the projects that we were involved in the one that stands out the most is our time working with the Calvary Hills community in developing a new candle making livelihood. Together we worked on everything from completing a participatory market research study, to conducting community surveys and teaching basic business management to a group of 8 women. The persistence and determination was inspiring and taught us a lot about how to work with communities in a more hands-off approach. One particularly proud day for us was driving the women around in our bright red pick up truck to fill out community surveys. We thought they might be a bit shy in approaching potential customers, but we were impressed to watch them ask their questions with a savvy confidence. With our help, they took their candles from idea to an operational business.
As a final send off to Tacloban we successfully organized over 30 members from various communities that we’d been working with to provide training for aspiring entrepreneurs and people already working in small businesses. After a hectic couple of weeks coordinating with different groups of people we all finally came togetherThere’s so much more we could say about our time in Tacloban, but it will never detail the sheer amount of events, experiences, and emotions that we shared. We lived, laughed, cried, and loved. And now we long. Long to return once more in the future, to see a Tacloban vibrant and bursting with life and love.
At the moment we’re on the road again: making our way through the Visayas region and then around Palawan. Everywhere we go we’re met with more friendly Filipino faces and welcomes. It’s such a refreshing feeling to be welcomed with such open arms while in a completely foreign country, and the Filipino’s sure know how to do it best! We’re especially glad to be traveling on our motorcycle on which we drive through tiny villages and are greeted with shouts and waves “hello.” So far we’ve seen the beautiful lush mountains of the Bohol region and will be heading to more beach destinations in a couple days!