The Words of the Duran Family

Super Typhoon Haiyan Update

An interview of Melody Duran
April 2014

Melody Duran during the interview, against a backdrop of the people of the Republic of the Philippines who are still struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by the most powerful typhoon ever recorded

Melody Duran visited her family after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines.

Question: Please introduce yourself to our members.

Yes, I am Melody Duran. I belong to the 360,000 couples. I have been here in Korea for almost eighteen years. I have three children -- two daughters and a son.

Question: Growing up in the Philippines, were you ever in a typhoon?

Yes. I have experienced it once in Manila. It was very scary because things were flying and the noise of the wind was very loud. You are very scared because you think something may fall on you -- some of the rooftops were already flying. The rooftop of our house at that time blew off.

Question: Having personally experienced a typhoon, how did you feel when you heard Yolanda was going to hit the Philippines?

At first I didn't think it was that bad, but when I heard news that it was a super typhoon, I was getting worried because I had seen the tsunami in Japan. It was disastrous. So I called my family before the typhoon hit. I told them they had to prepare for an emergency; for example, with food, candies, flashlights and clothes. I told them to stay in a higher place in case the water got high so that they might be safe. I told my sister-in-law, my brother and my parents and my relatives in the Philippines.

Question: Many houses were destroyed and people killed.

I'm very fortunate because nothing happened to my family but our family house is entirely gone. My parents' house is in front of a school. All the debris from the school hit my parents' house; so it's gone. Trees fell down, crops were destroyed.

When I visited them, we talked about the typhoon and their experiences. It was very scary for them. When I try to think about what happened, I also get scared because if I were in their place, I don't know what might have happened. My brother told me he could not see what happened because it was very dark when the typhoon hit. The wind was really strong, so he had to crawl. If he stood up, he could be carried away by the winds. So, he had to crawl in order to go to my parents, who at that time were staying in the school to be safer. However, the school was totally destroyed also.

Question: What happened?

They stayed in the school toilet [the lavatory]. Many of them stayed there.

Question: It was safe?

Yes, when they went there, they were all safe. My parents live in Samar, eastern Samar. The typhoon came from Guivan. Mostly it hit Guivan. I have relatives there, but thank God nothing happened to them. They were safe. Also in Tacloban; they were safe.

But I think most of the kids have traumas. Every time they hear there will be a typhoon, they start to say, "Please we have to go home and be safe." Because big trees were falling and they could not see people or anything. Even while the wind was very strong, it became darker.

Question: I'm glad to hear your whole family is safe.

But it took time before I heard from them, a week later actually. We couldn't call them. I called my niece in Manila. I asked her go to my parents' house, but at that time, it was very difficult for her to get transport. She went to other people who were going to our place. If she went alone, it might be very dangerous for her at that time, because people were taking food from other people, snatching and stealing from people. It's good that my niece went with others. When she got there, she didn't know where my parents' house was because the place was completely destroyed. She was crying and shouting their names.

When she saw my parents walking, she was very happy and then cried and laughed because they were safe. After that, she went to Samar and then from there to Cebu two days after that. We finally heard then about what happened and that they were still alive and are okay. But they didn't have anything to eat at that time because all the food was gone.

Question: How did they survive?

My parents were lucky because they keep different kinds of animals -- pigs and chickens. I heard they were eating the meat they had. My mother had a store and they were sharing whatever they had for free.

Question: Are houses being re-built?

They are starting to rebuild their house now. My father told me it will take time before it becomes normal again. Because, as you may know, in Samar, the main way of living was through coconuts, but the coconuts are all gone. They have to plant again. It takes years for coconuts to grow. "They have food to eat but it is very expensive.

Question: What are they doing fora living now?

They are trying to plant other crops, sweet potatoes, corn. I saw on their Facebook page that they are eating their corn now. So it's good that they are doing that and also fishing.

Question: What did you think when you heard Mother donated a million dollars for disaster relief?

I think it's very good that the Philippines really felt the love of our True Mother, not only True Mother but also our brothers and sisters all over the world. We really feel the love, the concern of our True Mother about the Filipino families. So, we are so happy for that. We were very grateful for that because it really helps our brothers and sisters.

Question: Could you describe how this donation helped the Filipino members?

I don't know what they did with the money, but I heard they are buying some goods, like rice or canned goods and sharing it with everyone. I've heard that until this time they have been providing relief goods to them. They are still distributing relief goods now. I think to everyone, not only to members. It is big help actually.

Question: That's good to hear. Is there anything else you would like to add?

I hope that all the members all over the world will continue to help us even though we are trying to cope with what happened to our country. Still, Filipinos are fighters, we don't give up. Actually it has made them stronger. Because of that, maybe we can overcome these things and make a better future for our country. With the help of other brothers and sisters, I think people there can survive.

Question: Is there was a particular way that you would think would be helpful?

I hope they do not stop giving help. At the time of the typhoon, many goods came. They were distributed already. At this time, even though people are trying to make their living through farming and fishing, I think it's not enough, especially when it come to their houses. So many were destroyed. Many streets are still in a disastrous state. When I went there, bodies were still riot buried. They were still lying on the ground.

Question: What is the Philippines government doing to help people rebuild their houses?

I've heard that some families receive some amount to build their houses and have been given goods. But I think it's not enough.

Question: Do you have any final words?

On behalf of the Filipinos here in Korea, I thank all our brothers and sisters around the world for helping us in this time of crisis in my country and I pray that we can help each other in the future. 

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