The Philippines is the country in Southeast Asia, which is affected by more than 20 typhoons per year. This poor country was hit by two typhoons in December 2019. We were in Tablas Island stuck for 6 days. You can easily lose 1 week of traveling, so you need to be prepared for any situation.
What is more, the Philippines is not a developed country. “The country’s infant mortality rate is very high, its industrialization is minimal, and many of its citizens lack access to quality health care and higher education”.
We traveled from Romblon Island to Coron when typhoon crossed our plans. We lost one week in Coron and we were stuck in Tablas Island. Fortunately, we found the hotel by the port where were all agencies for transport (ferries 2GO Ferry, Montenegro Lines, Navios Shipping Lines, Starhorse ferry). Some small stores were open, so we were lucky to eat a cup of noodles and some fresh fruit. The day after typhoon we went to the city to find some restaurant. In all the city center we found around 3 open.
The day they announced The Signal 1, everything stopped. Even though it was a sunny day and really hot, we wanted to go to the turtle sanctuary. But we did not have luck. It was just about waiting to pass. We survived the typhoon Ursula (international Phanfone); a relatively strong and deadly tropical cyclone that traveled through the Philippines on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Signal 2 is announced when it is less than 24 hours to be expected the typhoon and Signal 3 are announced within less than 18 hours.
The best thing we did was, attending mass in the local church on Christmas Eve. I will never forget that moment. It was raining and local people (like they are not affected enough from typhoons) accept you with open hands and sincere conversation. You just wish to be accepted like this everywhere.
On the government page of the Philippines (Department of Science and Technology), you can check the weather, history of typhoons and current situations in the country.
Typhoon is a large, strong, tropical cyclone. A cyclone is a low-pressure area generally generated between warm tropical oceans in the western Pacific Ocean. The winds from a typhoon can reach from 60 km/h to 120 km/h. A super typhoon’s winds can reach up to 220 km/h. Their main features are extremely low air pressure, strong winds (spiraling) and very heavy rainfall. Normally, they move in quite unpredictable ways.
But you can predict when typhoons will come. On PASAGA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) site you can follow active warning for typhoons. Here below you can see the track of Typhoon Ursula in December 2019.
Typhoons can cause a lot of material damages (broken trees, damaged houses, no electricity for days, months) and a lot of deaths. It can cause also mental problems.
After the typhoon, transportation started to run. Our next stop was Coron, but we needed to come to Island Mindoro. We took a ferry and in the evening when we took a van from Roxas to San Jose, the nightmare started.
We met one Australian guy Luke on our way. We drove together to San Jose. On our way, we saw a lot of fallen trees and electricity. It was terrible. In San Jose we reserved a hotel, but when we came there we saw on the door: “Hotel is closed due to no electricity”. We were shocked. What now?!?!?
We went to the next hotel. No space. The next one the same. The reason was that all the local people went to hotels with generators. At home, they do not have lights. I was desperate because the previous night I did not sleep (we were on our ferry early morning from Tablas to Caticlan – the best option that moment). I was exhausted like never before in my life. We stopped at McDonald’s to eat something and also to hope they are open all night. But no, they were open just till 11 pm. After searching for 2 hours for space to sleep, we decided to go to a port. Normally there is always some accommodation. Nothing! Then we saw some light and we tried our luck with some ladies. It was actually a hotel with some benches in front. They said no rooms available, that´s why we insisted to spend the night on the benches. After 15 minutes they arranged a room for us (not cleaned). OMG, I did not care about the clean room, I just wanted a bed! Long story short: We got a room with a dirty bathroom and clean beds and WIFI!!! #happyus I am still grateful for these ladies who allowed us to stay with the best room ever. I will never forget this night.
Our next ferry left the island in 2 days and not the next day when it was predicted. So we stayed one more night in the port. We drove to the center’ of San Jose, which was destroyed. The eye of the typhoon passed exactly here. People are not really hard working here as one Philippino guy said. It can be more than one month that they repair the electricity. Can you imagine to live a month without it? We saw electricity cables on the ground, fallen trees on the road, damaged buildings, trash everywhere,… Consequences can also be reflected in floods if there comes the super typhoon. Flooding from typhoons may destroy food stocks and supplies and spread disease. The impact of the typhoon can be huge. And we know that medical care is not the best one here.
We survived one day and a half in a port and in the city center. They needed to clean the ship after the typhoon. The situation was bad.
DO YOU KNOW HOW THE TYPHOONS GET THEIR NAMES?
Because a typhoon can affect more than one country, an international name needs to be assigned for easy reference and monitoring by various weather and media groups across the globe. These days, typhoon names are assigned in order from predetermined lists depending on which region of the globe they originate in. It starts with the letter A, the second with the letter “B” and so on through the alphabet. Click here to check the list of the names of the Philippine typhoons in the next years.
In the end, here is the video from the center when we drove through San Jose.