Surviving Yolanda in Tacloban

Hours after Typhoon Yolanda left Tacloban City in shambles, rumors also circulated that Kring Kring (Cristina Gonzales Romualdez), her husband Alfred, mayor of the city, and two children perished along with scores who drowned during the storm surge that engulfed the city at the height of the super typhoon when it crossed Central Visayas Friday morning.

They were nowhere to be seen among the survivors, so said one radio report.

Tacloban City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez at the presscon in Makati last Tuesday

The rumors were actually unfounded as Kring Kring and her two daughters Sofia, 14, and Diana, 10, hang on to dear life holding the rafters on the ceiling in a room at a house adjacent to their seafront house in Tacloban, several meters from the ravaged airport, or nearly two hours.

While her kids, Kring Kring said, “Fortunately they know how to swim,” continuously screamed, “Mom, I don’t want to die,” she stayed calm, focused, and assured them they wouldn’t. Armed with courage and a prayer, Kring Kring hang on with faith in “the Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him, to spare her, the children and her husband” from the disaster.

While the younger child was on a ledge close to the ceiling, she and Sofia mustered strength to weather the onrush of water from the sea.

“I didn’t know if the water would go any higher, I just kept praying. And when finally I noticed the water started receding, I was able to heave a sigh of relief,” she recounted.

She and the children went out of the house and Alfred, who was stuck in the resort’s ballroom, saw and met them.

“Of course, I was very happy to see my husband alive. When we were in the room, I kept wondering what had happened to him. And he said, he was also thinking the same thing when he hanged on for his life in the main house,” she said.

The family walked along with other survivors and they reached downtown where the destruction was similarly massive. “I put my children in the building (where I had a salon) for safety, and Alfred and I continued to walk to see the extent of the destruction.”

No local TV and radio networks that had crews in Tacloban when it was crushed to the ground by strong winds and rushing storm surge was able to interview the couple after the storm, hence rumors about their death became part of the city’s post-Yolanda urban legend.

Thanks to CNN International’s Andrew Stevens who put out an image of Alfred Romualdez in his report to the news channel being interviewed allaying fears that the couple had really been lost in the storm.

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas (left) and husband and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez hours after Yolanda wiped out the city.

“My husband was there, he was on the ground, trying to help anyone,” Kring Kring said. “There were no members of the media around, or if there were, maybe we weren’t the subjects they wanted for their coverage. I just hope people would stop criticizing public officials in the city. We were also victims. We nearly lost our lives.”

In her Facebook account, she posted a prayer of thanks and also an intercession to help the Taclobanons rise from this tragedy. Here it is: Thank you Lord Jesus for protecting me and my family from any harm. I feel so so so sad about what had happened to our beautiful city Tacloban. Praying for the families that lost their loved ones. Praying that God will restore and help us build our city once again. To all those that are giving, sharing and helping the victims in our city, Thank You soooo much. It’s amazing how Filipinos really have the Bayanihan spirit and go all out to help their Filipino brothers. So much love compassion and sharing. I could not help but cry when I first heard about all the people sending their help to the city, so much love sharing and giving. In spite of all that had happened, am still looking forward to hope in this city. We can pick ourselves up and be even more strong, resilient, and wise. With all the help and amazing care coming I know we will stand up we will move forward with so much hope even with the much work to be done. We will once again be a beautiful growing city. TINDOG TACLOBAN! Kaya natin ito sama sama nagkakaisa.

Kring Kring will join her husband in Tacloban the soonest she can find a way to fly back to the city.


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