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A city in ruins

Text and photos by LUIS LIWANAG

ORMOC City—The city of Ormoc in Leyte was just a speck in the horizon but to 38-year-old Marie Jean Decio, it was a place she could see and smell, a place that would bring her closer to her six children.

Marie Jean traveled almost four hours by fast craft from Cebu City where she works as a domestic helper to Ormoc. From Ormoc, she was to ride the habal-habal, the local commuter motorcycle, to Kananga town in Leyte, some 70 kilometers inland.

Like many Filipinos with relatives in Central Philippines, Marie Jean is hoping her family escaped the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest ever to hit the country.

If Ormoc City is any indication of the fate that befell other towns, Marie Jean can only pray for her family’s safety. Yolanda left 27 dead, more than 1,000 injured and 12 missing here.

The city remains without power, shelter and food sources, and has very limited public services. City hall has been providing residents with generator sets that supply temporary electricity and mobile phone charging.

The sight of local and foreign journalists slowly arriving into the city has brought some hope, Mayor Edward Codilla said.

Meanwhile, Marie Jean went on with her journey into the countryside, hoping to see her brood alive and well.