FFE Magazine

Typhooon Yolanda: tales of Survival Part III

From Hong Kong to home


Gina Ladrera is one of the few who was desperate to get into Tacloban days after super typhoon struck the region. What pushed her to want to get in when everybody was clamouring to get out was important than her life itself — the lives of her two children and husband.




On Tuesday morning, the 39-year-old domestic worker packed for her flight from Hong Kong to Cebu. She recalled the last time she talked to her husband, Pedro, who told her ‘Don’t worry, I can manage my kids’ one day before the storm hit Tanauan city, her hometown.


The Ladreras are used to separation; Gina has been working for two years as an overseas worker. But she feared a permanent separation from her family following the typhoon. She recounted ‘I asked them to evacuate in another place or another house but (my husband) didn’t know the typhoon was very worse.’


Hours after the storm passed, Gina tried to contact her husband and daughter’s phones. No news came to her from home. Even the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong cannot provide information on her family. She had to do something.


With the help of her employers in Hong Kong, Gina packed food, water, a tent and sleeping bag and headed for home.


Gina flew to Cebu on Wednesday morning with fellow worker Rita Ladenia who was also coming home for her family. But unlike Gina, Rita knew her family was alive. The pair booked a flight to Tacloban immediately after arriving in Cebu.


Gina arranged to meet a friend’s husband once in Tacloban. But the plan didn’t work out. Rita, who was then reunited with her family, tried to coordinate with friends from Hong Kong to help Gina get a ride to her hometown south of Tacloban City. But Gina vanished. Rita said ‘We had an agreement with Gina that if she gets in her place she was going to call me back. I’m also worried about her. I’ve not heard from her [since Wednesday].’


On Saturday, however, a friend announced that Gina had made it to Tanauan and was reunited with her family. Everyone was safe.


Gina revealed that she begged military trucks to give her a ride from the airbase to Palo town. From there, she hitched a ride with the police to her hometown.


She found her family sheltering in a makeshift hut 39-year-old Pedro built from the ruins of their house. Gina said ‘They were very shocked. They didn’t expect to see me. They were crying tears of joy, and then also my children, they didn’t know what they’re feeling. I’m so blessed because I found them.’


Her husband, who was a security guard, told her that he, their two children and his parents clung onto electrical wiring for four hours. They emerged bruised and scratched. Neighbours gave them dry clothes, and someone gave them food and water. The family was desperate for food and Gina found them.


The family was able to get out of Tacloban on Sunday night. They plan to stay with Gina’s mother in Luzon for the time being.


Gina said her children scream in their sleep, saying ‘No, no, no.’ She wants her family settled in before returning for work in Hong Kong. Although she wants to stay, she knew she was her family’s hope for a new life.


‘I will go back to Hong Kong, I need to. I need to work because of my family.’

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