By Yvette Morales and Charmaine Ycasas
Photos by Antonio Jose Galauran, UP Aperture
More than a month after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated the Philippines, people in Eastern Visayas braced themselves to survive yet another calamity: its aftermath.
The survivors were divided. Some waited long and hard (and continue to wait) for relief goods to come. Some flew to Manila, in hopes for a better life compared to the ruins of what used to be their homes. Some had no choice but fled just to escape the nightmare.
What was left of their strength was used to seek food and refuge, while some, for education.
Among many of the typhoon survivors is Patrick Vense Bajamunde, a third year Psychology major from UP Tacloban (UPT). After Yolanda struck his hometown and his school, he decided to cross-enroll in UP Diliman despite the promise of a campus reopening in January 2014.
“I decided to cross enroll to not waste time,” he said.
Yolanda’s wrath left nothing upright but the statue of the Oblation. It was not an easy sight for Patrick to see, but he deemed that waiting would not help his town’s rehabilitation.
This is why when UP President Alfredo Pascual released a memo urging all UP units to accommodate cross registrants from UP Tacloban, he gathered enough strength to cross-register.
“I have heard from a friend that the process of cross-enrolling here is quite easy. That is why I [gave] it a try,” he said.
With regard to the tuition fee, Patrick said he was “compensated” for the tuition he paid in UP Tacloban.
“Throughout the process, I only paid 46 pesos for 16 academic units,” he said.
Through the help of registration staff, Patrick said he was able to finish enrolling within a day.
Adjustment and recovery
The warm welcome of the Diliman community made Patrick’s adjustment and recovery more bearable. He immediately started attending classes after finishing his enrolment on Nov. 22, and said he was faring well in terms of academics.
“My professors allowed me to catch up with the lessons, activities and exercises I missed,” he said.
Language was not a barrier, Patrick said, although his mother tongue is Waray.
“I didn’t have much problem speaking Filipino since we are also using Filipino back in UPT,” he said.
Despite the good odds, Patrick was disheartened by some criticisms that he received upon entering the university.
He shared: “One thing that saddened me is hearing some students saying “talaga bang nasalanta ng bagyo ‘yan? Bakit nakangiti pa siya?” What I am supposed to do? Should I just cry in corner? No! I should stand up and move on towards the next phase. And that’s what I am doing right now.”
Support from his fellow students from UP Tacloban is another thing that keeps him going.
“It is really a good thing I am with my fellow UPT friends here, as we are supporting one another through ups and downs,” he said.
Today, Patrick resides in Kamagong dormitory, with both water and electricity free of charge.
“They (different groups and organizations) have provided me with food, financial assistance, clothing, books and a dormitory to stay,” he said.
A welcome program and a candle-lighting ceremony in honor of Yolanda victims were also held at the Palma Hall (AS) steps on Nov. 22.
He noted that although moving on was a difficult task, various efforts made the process easier for him. Various groups and private individuals also helped the cross-registrants by providing them food and school materials, among others.
“They’re too many and I’m thankful for it,” he said.
However, Patrick could not help but be anxious about his future.
“I am just hoping that this will last ‘til my whole family is financially stable,” he said, as their dorm manager said all the assistance would only last “until donations are coming.”
Patrick’s home in Western Samar shared the same fate of those in Eastern Visayas. What’s worse, their family’s rice field, which was nearing harvest, was totally ravaged by the typhoon.
Patrick added that it was more costly to live in Diliman. Normally, a lunch set of rice, one viand and dessert would only cost P35 in Tacloban, but is priced P50 in UPD, he said.
With all the added costs, he relies on all the help he can get.
“I am just worried when that day comes and everything comes to an end,” he said.
When asked about whether or not he plans to return to Tacloban, Patrick’s answer was firm.
“Only if everything is back to normal – not only financially but also emotionally, [especially] after seeing all those dead bodies. After all, it is in UPT where I build and started my dreams,” he said.