Typhoon Haiyan not only destroyed houses and uprooted trees, it has also affected the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Many of them want a fresh start but some have lost hope.
There is no more clucking on Robert Almodia's chicken farm. His chickens are sitting in the sun in their cramped cages and hardly move at all. It is too hot for the animals and Almodia knows it. "The typhoon has destroyed the coops and we only have makeshift covers for the cages," he said.
Almodia once had 80.000 chickens. A third did not survive the typhoon. "The others slowly die because of the stress and the sun," he said. Actually Almodia wants to rebuild his henhouses in the small village of San Augustin on Bantayan Island but he cannot get enough building material. The demand is too high.
Fight for survival
At least he still had enough chicken feed in his store house. Luckily, its tin roof was not blown away by the typhoon. But like most of the farmers on the island, he now relies on neighboring Cebu Island to get more chicken feed. In the long run that will be expensive for him. In the store house, his employees sort the eggs of the day by size. There are only a few thousand, a fraction of the amount before the typhoon.
However, Almodia has not yet lost courage. He wants to continue his chicken business, not least for his 50 employees. "We will survive, and step by step, we will rebuild the farm," he said.
Only a few kilometers southeast of Almodia's farm is a white sandy beach. The water and the sky are bright blue. Behind the beach is a coconut palm tree forest. But many trees have been knocked down and uprooted by the storm. The typhoon devastated the trees and, often, only the trunks remain.
Bantayan was a small tourist paradise. Even before the storm, not many people came to the island for their holidays. But for the islanders the tourists were an important source of income. The tourists often went to "Caffe del Mare" in the small town of Santa Fe in the southern part of the island, and Harriette Carnabucis could make a living by selling her popular noodle dishes. The young Filipina runs the restaurant together with her Italian husband. "During the European winter from November until January, it was busy here," she said.
Now, there are three tourists at the bar. Carnabuci is serving drinks and the guests sit on bamboo stools and a few generator-powered light bulbs illuminate their faces. "There is no running water, no power and you see the devastation everywhere," said one of the tourists. That has to change fast to get more tourists interested.
Wolfgang Knabe did not just come here for a holiday, he decided to stay, despite the storms. For two years the pensioner has been living on the island; originally, he is from Frankfurt. In the "Caffe del Mare" he says that Haiyan cannot drive him away from the island. "We have never been needed more than now," he says and apologizes as he fights back the tears. Currently he supports an aid organization, the day before he helped to distribute 3,500 meals. "It's nice to see that people start again. You can hear the hammers everywhere. Things get nailed together again," he said.
No job, no motivation
But the cleanup let alone the reconstruction on Bantayan Island is far from finished. Traffic on the asphalt roads is back in full swing. On the smaller streets there are still trees blocking the way, shards and nails force the traffic to stop. Therefore, it takes longer than expected to reach Madridejos at the northern tip of the island. Here, too, not all houses have their roof back on again and the economy, already weak before the typhoon, is devastated.
A group of young people sits in the shadow beside the road. Michael Babaylo, their leader, confirms that there is no running water and no electricity. "We don't have work. We don't have enough building materials," he said. "That's why we sit here and wait for the more aid to arrive."