Survivors say prayers at Yolanda mass grave in Tacloban

Jazmin Bonifacio
Survivors say prayers at Yolanda mass grave in Tacloban
‘I wish Mama were here to tell me that everything’s going to be okay,’ says Nathalia, who was 4 years old when her mother and 3 sisters died during Super Typhoon Yolanda

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Six years after Super Typhoon Yolanda killed thousands and devastated communities in Eastern Visayas, survivors said on Friday, November 1, the pain of loss had not eased.

“I really miss my mom,” Nathalia Martinez told Rappler.

She visited in the morning of All Saints’ Day the Holy Cross Cemetery, the mass grave in Barangay Basper, where her mother and 3 elder sisters were buried along with others who perished during typhoon on November 8, 2013. 

Nathalia, the youngest in the family of 12, was 4 years old when Yolanda severely hit Barangay Alimasag in the municipality of San Jose.

“Unta aanhi hi Mama yana para okay pirmi,” she said. (I wish Mama were here to tell me that everything’s going to be okay.) 

Nathalia’s father, Juanito Martinez, said he had never failed to visit the Basper mass grave, where his wife and children were buried. He lost his 44-year-old wife Gina and his 3 children: Bernadeth, 9,  Maria Riza, 8; and Margarita, 7.  

Photo by Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler

“Visiting the mass grave has been part of our lives,” he said.

“I miss my wife and children so much. I still cry more than I have ever done before,” Martinez, a 54-year-old furniture maker, told Rappler.

“I am sad that this happend to our family, but I am asking my wife to help me heal and be stronger for my children,” he said. “All that matters now is that I and my children who survived are safe, and I am going to do my best to make sure that we will have a good life.”

Martinez and his 6 remaining children are now living at the resettlement project of GMA Kapuso Foundation, while his 3 other children are in Manila.

Communities, according to him, are still facing challenges of rebuilding. He can only grateful that he and his other children survived.

“Not every family’s made it, but we were so lucky and blessed,’ Martinez said. – 

Read these stories from the immediate aftermath of Yolanda in 2013: 


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