Families sought shelter at a sports center in Tacloban City when Typhoon Haiyan cut a path of destruction across the central Philippines in November 2013. The typhoon displaced an estimated 4 million people and killed more than 7,000.
Intensifying storms linked to global warming affect livelihoods and displace thousands of Filipinos every year. The strength and scale of damage from Haiyan were compounded by the area's geography, particularly a funnel-like bay that opens to the ocean through a strait. The Global Climate Risk Index of 2015 ranked the Philippines as the country most affected by weather-related disasters including storms, floods and heatwaves.
Divine Astorga, 22, sews clothes that will accompany religious figurines. In addition to selling popsicles and working in their small storefront, the sisters sell the figurines at upcoming festivals to earn money for their commute in and out of the city. “Instead of using that money for needs, you spend it on fare,” Divine said. “You also have to print papers for your resume, which is another cost. Then you’re going to submit it without a response from the company. It’s wasted"
Divina Astorga, 27, struggled to find employment in the months after the typhoon. She was preparing to migrate to Australia to join two older sisters who settled in Sydney. Because the storm washed out most of their belongings including her birth certificate, passport and immigration forms, her plans to migrate are stalled.
Families sought shelter in the second level of the Astorga’s home during the typhoon as waves engulfed houses in San Jose. More than 2 million people were left without adequate housing, according to the International Organization for Migration. Residents still live in tents and rely on cash-for-work programs.
In March 2014, Divine received her degree in marketing from Eastern Visayas State University. The commencement ceremony happened two months later because of ongoing recovery efforts, restoring a sense of normalcy to the lives of many students who survived the typhoon. “The jobs that my sister and I apply for are not totally suited for our skills,” she said, “we don’t meet many of the qualifications.” Since graduating, she has submitted four applications to hotels and supermarkets.
Aljim Asbi, 14, and his friends at the Joaquin Enriquez Sports Complex climb a tower to escape the heat and congestion below. More than seven months since an armed conflict displaced 100,000 people in Zamboanga City, 64,600 residents remained in evacuation camps and transitional shelters.
The view from the second floor balcony of the Astorga’s home where the family and many of their neighbors climbed to the rafters during the storm. “People were swimming and coming in through the second floor window just to enter,” recalled Divine. “My sisters who were abroad felt double the uncertainty that we felt. They had no idea if we were dead or alive.”
Children laughed and played in a suffocating fog of mosquito repellent. Soldiers from South Korea visited the shelter site where hundreds of people displaced by Typhoon Haiyan were moved for temporary shelter. The soldiers sprayed mosquito repellent along rows upon rows of bunkhouses, a break from the monotony inside the camp.
Laundry day at the Astrodome, a sports complex where residents sought shelter and lived in tents after the typhoon.
Children in the coastal community of Anibong sketched on note pads donated by a local organization. In one afternoon program, they recalled the trauma of surviving the typhoon's record storm surge and winds, which tossed cargo ships onto land and their homes.
A rising death toll stalk the survivors inside congested evacuation centers. In April 2013, 109 deaths were recorded. The majority of mortalities affected children and the elderly. Diarrhea ranked as the leading cause of deaths while acute gastroenteritis and pneumonia were also main causes.
Chaleng Hadjirul, 15, stopped attending school because of the conflict and displacement. “The conflict is not yet finished because they’re not back in their homes,” said Dr. Myra Aranan, a government official leading mental health and psychosocial support inside the evacuation centers.
Teenagers sang Evacuate, a song they composed to reflect on displacement and a hope that it will never happen again.
“I really want to finish school so that I can help my parents,” Katrina Abuhajim 17, said atop a tower where many of the youth go to pass the time. Abuhajim and her family ran to escape the armed conflict that entered their neighborhood in Zamboanga City. After mortar shelling and gunfire subsided, a truck transported them to an evacuation center known locally as the Grandstand. Her family has been living in the Grandstand since violence erupted more than a year ago.
Despite record economic growth in the country’s northern region, the restive south remains mired in poverty and armed conflict.
Clothes hang to dry on the coast of Zamboanga City where seafaring Badjao were displaced from their ancestral homelands. Many were being moved inland.