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Eastern Samar was beautiful before Yolanda came

Eastern Samar
Eastern Samar


Eastern Samar, although beset by decades of insurgency and presently suffering from the effects of Yolanda’s fury, could still count its blessings.

Its rich mineral deposits of nickel, copper, iron ore and gold, as well as its lush forests with high grade timber can be a rich economic resource though it has its controversial side due to irresponsible mining and logging practices by some companies. 

The province is a beautiful place where we can still see the Philippine eagle over a dense forest and could see also pristine seashores and beaches on islets dotting its Pacific side. It has its natural caves, springs and waterfalls, truly, a paradise wanting to be discovered.

Other businesses were booming especially Eco- tourism…..  Surfing, cross country events, etc. was being conducted. These are God’s gifts which can be utilized and will pave the way to a brighter future for us, Estehanons.

Fishing and farming are the main sources of income.  The coconut tree was the lynchpin in the existence of the common “tao”. 

The copra  became the  poor  people’s  gold which enabled them to  send their children to school and ultimately attain good education  ending up as successful professionals such as teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, accountants and many more. 

A lot of Eastern Samar’s sons and daughters are now working and living overseas and whose regular remittances to their love ones back home provide sustenance in food, health and economy. The widening of the national highway was being undertaken. 

It gave employment to a lot of residents there and a promise to reach remote areas of the province.

The future seemed bright but….. Yolanda came along and took everything with her! 

What the persistent Estehanons had built for decades, just in a few hours,  had been blown away to  high heavens  along with the heartaches of losing loved ones ,  hard- earned treasures, homes, and many more. But the resilient Estehanons aim to get over their losses amidst adversities and trauma.

Strong faith in the Divine Providence is one thing that is common among the Estehanons. Even super typhoon Yolanda could not break their indomitable strength, belief and trust in God just like the story of Job in the Bible.

The people turned to God in their hour of despair, devastation and death.  Their strong faith in God made them resilient no matter from what religious background they came from.

On the Sunday after Yolanda struck, people flocked to the crumbled ruins of the more than 400  year  old Catholic church in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception destroyed by Yolanda,  to attend Mass celebrated by a native of the place, my cousin, Fr Andiy Egargo.

All of these will only be a reality for us, to truly rebuild our future, if we regain our livelihood, boats for our fishermen, farming implements for our farmers, coconut seedlings for our coconut farms, rebuild our houses though how small though it was, and other self-sufficient ways that will make us feel independent and not forever leaning on dole-outs and mercies of others. Estehanons are a proud people.

These will be made possible also with outside support …. from you and me…from kind-hearted Individuals, generous organizations and communities and supportive nations.

Let us then lend a hand and help propel the Waray people to a promising future.  Bangon Estehanon!!!  Uswag mga Waraynon!!! 

*Testimony as an Eastern Samar resident during the ‘UNITED” benefit concert held at Burwood RSL Club on Sunday12 October 2011, A registered nurse with years of studies and experience in her field, the author is president of National Eastern Samar Association of Australia or NESAA.