Following the recent devastation that the Philippines suffered during Typhoon Haiyan, one of our brave writers from sister site RocketNews24 Japan decided to go see the damage first hand. We’ve prepared a translation of his report to help you all get a clearer perspective of the situation on Leyte.


In order to convey the situation in the affected area, I traveled to the disaster area on my own, communicating and staying with the local people. Here are my thoughts and impressions.

The devastation is worse than imagined

The amount of damage and devastation in the area is enormous. Great numbers of buildings’ roofs have been blown off by the strong winds, electric lines are down, windows have been shattered, and there is almost no electricity at all. The gas stations and banks are all completely closed as well.









First, finding a place to sleep

Since there were no hotels in operation, as I had expected, my first task was finding someplace to sleep. I came across a building whose roof was still intact, but beaten up. After securing a place to settle for the night, I used the light of a candle I’d gotten from a street stall to open up some canned food I had brought from Japan.


Bitten by a bug and trouble sleeping

As soon as I’d laid down on the ground and tried to fall asleep, I was bitten by a bug on my right wrist. The moment I noticed the bite, I was overwhelmed with a terrible itchiness. The whole area was covered with a hive-like rash. And then after that, my left wrist and shoulder were also bitten, and the agony multiplied.

Sore body and more trouble sleeping

After a bit of time passed, I found my whole body starting to ache as I laid on the concrete. Even so, I tried to sleep. But I couldn’t. Everyone around me seemed to be in the same condition.

And then it started to rain

After all that, it started to pour. There was still a roof over me, but it had been beaten badly the typhoon, and water leaked in, leaving the floor sopping wet. I was left to choose between standing up all night or getting soaked and sleeping. After thinking for a bit, I curled up like a cat and slept.

The people in the disaster area need proper housing

I felt like utter crap when I woke in the morning. It was as if I hadn’t slept at all. Instead of relieving my exhaustion, sleeping had left my body aching horribly. What do the people in the disaster area need most badly right away? Definitely shelter. After just one night, that’s what I realized most clearly.


The disappearance of my canned food and water

After waking, I set out to buy some medicine to stop the itching from my bug bites. But when I returned to where I’d slept, the canned food and water I’d left behind were gone. I was just glad that I’d taken my backpack with me as usual.


Plans to visit Tacloban

The previous day, I’d had plans to head from Ormoc, the city on the western side of Leyte where I’d stayed, to Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte, to get more coverage. However, I was informed by the locals that “It’s three hours by bus, but it’s dangerous.”


Giving up

The moment I heard that, I felt an instinctual revulsion at the idea of “sleeping outdoors in a dangerous area.” Basically, at that point, I was suffering from exhaustion, itchiness, the heat, the unsanitary conditions, and joint pain. I decided that those five things combined must be what torture is like.



Heading home

I just wanted to go home. In order to get back to Japan, I would have to retrace my steps, which meant taking a ferry back to Cebu and then catching a plane from the airport there. But when I went to catch a ferry…


No tickets

…I found that a long line had already formed. It was going to be a while before I could buy a ticket, but there was nothing else I could do, so I got in line under the excruciating sun and waited. It was so hot. But there was nothing else I could do…


Would I even be able to get on the ferry?

When I mentioned that I was looking for a ferry that would get me home as fast as possible, I was told that I should take a different one. But there was a long line for that one as well, and I had no idea if I would even be able to get on it that day. And it was miserable waiting in the heat–I was so sick of just standing. Putting my hands on my knees, I could do nothing but stare at the ground.


A change of luck

At that moment, a miracle happened. A member of the ferry company’s staff came up and started talking to me. As soon as I told him, “I want to go home today!” I got a numbered ticket and was able to jump ahead to buy a ferry ticket. Why?? I still don’t know…


The leaky waiting area

After getting a ferry ticket without any trouble, I went to the waiting area and tried to take a nap. Unfortunately, it started pouring again, and the rain came through the tarp which had been put over the building in place of the roof. I was soaked and couldn’t sleep at all. In the middle of the gushing water, we waited for the ferry to arrive.


Windows breaking

As soon as the ferry arrived, everyone crowded onto the ship and we set off. After a while, we arrived at Cebu, and started to dock. Just then, the window glass across the aisle from me cracked violently! It seems that someone had made a mistake, crashing the ferry into the pier! It gave us quite the shock.


So, my impressions after visiting the area are that we definitely need to supply people with comfortable housing right away. Next, we need to ensure that they have electricity, proper sanitation, and gasoline, as well set up a way to transmit money. After all, I had just planned to stay for several days, so imagine how hard it must be for the local people. Until we get the infrastructure fixed up, I can only imagine that it will likely be very difficult for relief volunteers to even stay there, let alone work.

Editor’s note: We want to thank Sekai no Shogo for bringing us this first hand account of the disaster area. We’d also like to remind you that you can donate to the Red Cross relief fund for people in the Philippines here. Finally, we have more photos of Leyte from Sekai no Shogo’s report below.















All images by RocketNews24