The year 2013 was tough for Martin Roaring.
It was the year that Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the Leyte province, and, within hours, laid waste to his hometown of Tacloban City. All of a sudden, he lost his home and the life he once knew.
Hours before the super storm made landfall, Martin’s family evacuated in the hotel where his wife was working.
“We thought the typhoon would only bring strong winds. We didn’t expect it to bring storm surges. Suddenly the sea water rose. The hotel was located near the sea,” recalls Martin, 33. “My wife, son, and I were separated by the surge.”
Minutes later, Martin never saw them again.
The days and months that followed were challenging for Martin.
He tried to pick himself up from the tragedy and strived to live normally. He still reported to his work as a baker in a hotel in Tacloban City. But the tragedy took the life out of him.
He sought solace from his misery by drowning himself in alcohol. He would drink from morning until night. There were times when he was too drunk to go home that he slept on the street instead.
In 2014, he met a woman named Marmil. She is the daughter of a work colleague. They fell in love and eventually decided to live together.
Marmil, 24, also lost relatives – a brother, a pregnant sister-in-law, and their two children – to Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). She recognized and understood Martin’s suffering.
In 2016, Martin and Marmil heard about Tzu Chi Foundation’s housing project and livelihood center in Barangay San Jose, Palo. They were eager to become part of it. They had known the Buddhist group since the aftermath of the super typhoon.
One week after the storm, Tzu Chi volunteers arrived in Leyte and launched a cash-for-work program. They mobilized the typhoon victims to clean up their communities, providing them with Php500 daily cash allowance. Tzu Chi also distributed cash assistance ranging from Php8,000 to Php15,000 for every family.
“After Yolanda (Haiyan), we thought it was the end of us. Relief goods came but they are very temporary. When Tzu Chi came, they offered cash-for-work program. It was a good project because it asked us to make an effort and it made us feel like we were helping each other recover,” says Marmil.
Martin had received Php8,000 from Tzu Chi. He used the money to buy clothes and pay for the transportation fee to Cebu where, Martin had heard, many evacuees were brought. He was hoping he would find his wife and son there. However, he ended up returning to Tacloban City with a broken heart.
Regardless, Martin appreciated Tzu Chi’s kindness. He had never forgotten the Buddhist group since. “We managed to recover through them. They were the first to provide us with financial assistance,” says Martin.
Three years later, Tzu Chi put up a Livelihood Center inside the Tzu Chi Great Love Village, a 3.3-hectare temporary housing community for Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors.
When Martin heard that the center runs a bakery, he applied to work as a baker and was hired. In September 2016, he and Marmil moved to a unit of prefabricated shelter at the village. Prior to this, they lived in Barangay San Jose, Tacloban City on a land they do not own.
Marmil also began working as one of the staffs at the Livelihood Center, where she was assigned with recording the supplies at the Cross-Stitch Room.
Martin loaned a motorcycle, paying Tzu Chi for it on instalment basis. They use the vehicle whenever they have to do some personal errands. However, whenever he has the time, Martin also drives it as a passenger motorcycle or habal-habal, providing them with an additional income.
With a new home and a decent livelihood, life seems to be starting anew for the couple Roaring. But something still felt missing.
In February 2017, after finding out that many of the villagers have been living together for years out of wedlock, Tzu Chi organized a mass church and civil wedding. Tzu Chi shouldered the expenses from the brides’ gowns and grooms’ barongs to the simple mass reception.
Martin and Marmil were among those who joined the mass civil wedding.
“Although we do not have a child yet, because we were married officially, it feels like we are now complete although there’s only the two of us. This place [Great Love Village] is perfect for us because we have a job and the only that’s missing is a child,” says Marmil.
For Martin, living at the Great Love Village has helped him move forward from his misery.
“I am really thankful to Tzu Chi. If not for them, I would still be working outside the village and I would still have my ill vices,” he says. “But now, I’ve left them all for good.”
From drowning his misery to alcohol, Martin Roaring, a baker, is now spending his time making bread at the Great Love Bakery inside Tzu Chi’s Livelihood Center in Barangay San Jose, Palo.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Marmil Roaring is currently employed as a staff at the Tzu Chi Livelihood Center. She says Tzu Chi’s housing village is an ideal place for typhoon survivors like them to start over since they did not only received a home but were given livelihood as well.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Couple Martin and Marmil Roaring are given a unit of prefabricated shelter at the Tzu Chi Great Love Village in Barangay San Jose, Palo. This allows them to work near their home, avoiding possible accidents that they may encounter from travelling far. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】