A severe tropical storm struck the southern Philippines on December 16, causing landslides and massive flooding on the island of Mindanao, where Lutheran World Relief is implementing a number of sustainable development projects. Here are three of their stories.
“I was going to buy fertilizer for my rice farm, if I had been able to harvest the seaweed,” said Fernando Lligui. Fernando’s seaweed farm was destroyed by the latest tropical storm in the Philippines.
Fernando was expecting to harvest the seaweed this January, hoping to earn at least PhP 8,000 (US$186). He has been trying to restore whatever is left in his farm, but he now estimates that he’ll earn only a quarter of that. Much of the seaweed can still be sold, but at a lower price, since it is not fully mature.
“It is my first time growing seaweed. I did not expect that this storm will come,” he added.
Fernando is now dependent on traders in his village for daily food for his family. “We still have rice stock at home. However, I am not sure how long it will last.” More than anything else, Fernando needs help in securing food for his family.
Roger Hernandez heard that the storm was moving slowly — around 30 kilometers per hour — but to his dismay it was more than he expected. He admitted that he became complacent in responding to the storm advisories.
It was already too late when Roger decided to save his seaweed. “I wanted to add an anchor (to add more weight) to the seaweed and spare it against the storm. However, it was too late, as the waves were already strong and I couldn’t handle it anymore,” the soon-to-become father said. Roger was expecting to earn at least PhP20,000 (US$465) from his seaweed in February. He was planning to then buy a pump boat and some falcatta seedlings, in order to have another source of income.
Roger and his wife decided to evacuate their home and went to village official’s residence to wait until the storm calmed down. When they returned home, their roof was destroyed and everything — including their rice — got wet. Their seaweed dryer was also wet.
“I am worried that I lost the one thing that we depended on for our daily survival,” says Roger. Just like any fisher folks in Cabgan, Roger tried to recover what was left of his seaweed. He was able to rescue around six kilos, which will be used to buy rice.
“I am afraid that this will only last until tomorrow. I have no other idea but to borrow from traders to buy food for the following days,” he added. Roger is still uncertain if any of his seaweed is still left that he can use to buy food for the coming days.
Evelyn Logatiman’s ultimate goal for her seaweed farming is to help her pay off her debts. “I pawned my jewelry to jumpstart my seaweed farming,” Evelyn shared.
Evelyn was caught off guard when the storm hit their area. “I have no radio at home and had insufficient information about the storm. All I knew was that it was moving slowly: around 30 kilometers per hour,” Evelyn expressed. When the strong wind started to devastate Evelyn’s place, she began to worry. She went on her roof and looked at her seaweed at a distance. Evelyn did not know what to do.
Evelyn and the others around her became still as they watched the storm wiped out all their efforts. “We were able to save my sister’s seaweed dryer,” she added.
Evelyn and her husband depend very much on seaweed. They do have other income sources from fishing and basket making. However, she and her husband are trying to recover whatever is left in their seaweed farm. With the rescued dryer, they were able to earn some income and use this to buy food. Yet the food supply in Evelyn’s house is estimated to only last until the end of the month.