Arizona Taclobanaon describes first-hand account of Typhoon Yolanda

By Raul Legazpi, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Dec. 25, 2013

PHOENIX, Ariz. – It’s been more than a month since Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines; especially the city of Tacloban where Joselito Sydionco’s house was pummeled to the ground.

Sydionco is an Arizona-based owner of Jeepney Bistro, who was visiting his hometown with his family when the super storm came.

“Three o’clock in the morning, that’s when the typhoon’s strong wind started,” Sydianco, who is still in Tacloban City, told Balitang America via Skype. “Our building was shaking like there was an earthquake. Can you imagine an earthquake lasting 4 hours long?”

He said he monitored the storm before it made landfall and knew taking refuge in a high-rise hotel with his family and relatives would be the wise thing to do.

When houses around them were covered in flood waters, he said in that darkest hour all they could do was pray.

“I mean that was it,” he said. “We all prayed.”

Sydiongco says he is still traumatized by what happened.

“Two days ago, I was here in the living room and I heard just a car alarm,” he said. “It was the same sound I heard during the storm. It all came back. I thought I was over it already. I guess I’m not.”

His son Jacob, who is now back in Arizona, says it was a horrific experience no one could forget.

“I feel pretty bad for him. I just saw him cry,” Jacob Sydiongco said. “I never saw him cry. I can feel with him ‘coz I mean we were just there, so I feel the same way kind of what he does right now.”

Amid all the sorrow, Sydiongco’s other son Justin decided to reach out to those in need back home by organizing a donation drive with his cousin David.

“At first, this was just supposed to be within our family and then we decided to do just a general donation drive just for all the victims in Tacloban,” Justin Sydiongco said.

“I talk to my office manager Andi Keenan who help me set-up a drive where we collected blankets, clothes, toiletries, canned foods and anything we thought could really benefit the people suffering from the typhoon,” David Sydiongco said.

The Sydiongco’s and Jeepney Bistro say they plan to continue this donation drive all year round, not just to give immediate help, but also to aid kababayans as they rebuild their lives from the world’s strongest storm.

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