News » HE LOST 11 FAMILY MEMBERS BUT INSPIRING HIGH HOPES

HE LOST 11 FAMILY MEMBERS BUT INSPIRING HIGH HOPES

March 30, 2014 – PALO, Leyte—A day after Eduardo Zabala lost 11 of his family members to Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” an influential cousin working in Abu Dhabi chartered two private helicopters to whisk him out of harm’s way. He begged off to stay.
“I saw no compelling reason for me to leave. Almost all my family members died here. Why would I go?” the 48-year-old government agriculturist said then.

Almost five months after the disaster happened, Zabala realized he made the right decision.
The Yolanda tragic figure has transformed himself into one of this town’s emerging community leaders, organizing fishermen in his village by helping them heal and recover from the devastating effects of the massive storm that destroyed most of their fishing boats.
Zabala lost his daughter Grace Ann, 15; mother Remedios, 69; and sisters Lourdes Navarette, 37, and Karen Katherine Monserate, 33. He also lost three elderly aunts—Catalina, 88; Rosario, 76; and Cecilia Orejola, 66. Other victims in Zabala’s family include his uncle Fermin Orejola, 63; cousin Mariel Patrice Orejola, 18; and two nephews, Liam Monserate, 4, and Peter Ross Navarette, 11.
They all drowned on Nov. 8 when Yolanda’s 6-meter storm surges swept into Barangay Salvacion here, destroying this coastal fishing village facing the Pacific Ocean. Only Zabala, his 51-year-old wife Luchie, two grown children and two other nieces survived the catastrophe.

“I still can’t believe they are all gone,” Zabala said.
Slowly coming back from his dark days of despair, Zabala’s mind is now preoccupied with the color yellow, specifically yellow boats.
With the help of Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation (YBOH), a Manila-based nongovernment organization (NGO) engaged in disaster relief, Zabala and the group of 21 fishermen he leads are getting their livelihoods back by building one yellow boat at a time.
Like Zabala, most of the fishermen here have lost a wife, a son or a daughter, a mother or a father to Yolanda. In the aftermath of Yolanda, they have formed a brotherhood forged in grief and resilience.

Read more: Philippine Daily Inquirer http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/590220/yolanda-survivor-eduardo-zabala-lost-11-family-members-but-inspiring-high-hopes