dave martinez photography » Official website of Dave Martinez Photography, Photographer based in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines.

Typhoon Yolanda – Haiyan in Tacloban City

January 25, 2014 update: posted another blog article — My Typhoon Yolanda Afterthoughts

December 20, 2013 update: posted another blog article —  The Typhoon Yolanda Aftermath

November 24, 2013 update: added new photos and comments (please scroll down).


November 14, 2013

“Typhoon Yolanda – Haiyan in Tacloban City” (November 8, 2013)

This got to be the most horrific thing that have happened in my life. A tip-toe between life and death. The destruction that this typhoon has caused is immeasurable. My heart goes to all those who have lost.

URGENT CALL (November 14, 2013): What is seen in the news is a bit different on what is happening on the ground, and as victim myself, I can list a litany of things needed right now, but in my humble opinion what is needed most right now is to exponentially increase and add the SECURITY of the region. Not only the city itself, but also the nearby towns. At this time of writing, there is still an increasing and imminent threat to the lives and properties of the people.

I can’t really write more, I’ll just share some photos that I was able to instinctively take during and after the typhoon. I, thank you, for all the prayers, love and support. God be with us.


A mother had to carry both her baby and a statue of Virgin Mary with the rest of her family coming out from the rooftop where the water level has gone up more than 12 feet. Her faith had probably kept her alive.



The wreckage the typhoon has brought.



A man hanging on to electric wires to move around.



Even a dog was not spared. He seemed not to know where to go…



Port area and Wet Market, Tacloban City. You can notice the smoke of fire coming from one of the buildings at the left.



Macdonald’s, Tacloban City. (I can hardly imagine to call Tacloban a “city” again).



The proposed SM Savemore Department Store.



She can still smile.



Two girls checked on what they got.



A fire occurred and there was no fire truck around to put off the fire. Almost all of the fire trucks were flooded and engines couldn’t start. There was one fire truck who tried to put the fire out but wasn’t able to do so because of limited water and fuel supply for the truck. I salute the firemen from the Bureau of Fire Protection, who responded to the scene even if their own families were in need of their immediate help.



Another bigger fire just on the next block.



Calvary Hill, Anibong.



Aftermath. People search around of what could still be recovered.



Mount Danglay at the background.



Looting in major stores around the city happened right after the storm.



Whatever could be saved from their washed-out house, these two guys have to share the heavy load.



No electricity. No water.



Looting in almost all of the establishments, commercial stores, warehouses and properties.



A boy holds on to a sachet of Milo.



A mother breastfeeding her baby.



Looting included virtually anything even appliances. The source of looting are not only totally coming from Tacloban, they are surging in from nearby towns. The threat of various crimes now goes to the households, villages and subdivisions. Hence, the urgency for increased security in the whole region.



Almost all of the cars and motorcycles were destroyed by the flood. Mode of transportation is by foot, bicycle or by “kariton” like the one above.



Three people taking a bath with flooded water flowing on the streets. This water is contaminated with all sorts of debris and dirt, from rust to dead animals and human bodies.



The Sto. Niño Shrine aftermath.






A glimmer of hope.


November 24, 2013

It’s been around 10 days from the last time I wrote this blog, but everything still feels just like yesterday. The horror is still very fresh, the raw encounter with the fury of nature is still unbelievable. The damage brought by Typhoon Yolanda – Haiyan was so enormous that it cannot be quantified. The human loss is so heart aching, especially knowing that some of my friends have lost their lives and their loved ones. The loss of property and assets had been a tremendous blow to the hope and future of the victims. But all is not lost, as long as we still breath, we shall rise again.

The relief operations have been bearing fruit lately albeit slowly, but they are having a big impact to the lives of the victims. I salute the people behind the different organizations and entities especially the volunteers who in one way or the other has brought hope and help to the victims. The support from the other countries and other international organizations is overwhelming. Thank you for being a light in the dark.

I’ll share some more photos…  I hope these images can give you a bigger picture of what really happened that fateful day and the following days. And if you find this blog helpful, feel free to share this – we need all and any help that we can have… Thank you and God bless.



November 8, 2013. This was taken around an hour after the height of the typhoon, the wind and rain was still strong but people had to move to take shelter.



Struggling to cross around the mountain of debris.



Any source of food was a welcome.



The entire street was covered with all sorts of damaged materials that were swept away by the typhoon. The roads instantly became inaccessible.



A pack of diaper for his baby.



Traversing across difficult terrain, getting whatever food and items for survival.



A man stumbled to get through the collapsed rooftop.



A toy bike.



A building caught fire during that same fateful day.



Firefighters from the Bureau of Fire Protection courageously fought the burning building.



The only place to go was to be at the rooftop of their house as the flooded water were more than 12 feet. By the looks of his face, I can feel what he felt that time.



Families evacuating through flooded water. Background is the Calvary Hill in Anibong, Tacloban City.



They have to move him across because of his severe injury inflicted during the typhoon, hoping to seek medical attention as soon as possible.



Rizal Avenue’s major electrical posts and signages collapsed, and debris all over.



Another view of Rizal Avenue hours after the typhoon.



A store selling paints looted on the very first day, nothing was left. I personally know the owners and sympathize them.



Paints, computers, anything…



“Treat yourself. Sweet.” (Ironic don’t you think?)



A few hours after the typhoon at Justice Romualdez Street corner Salazar Street, Tacloban City.



Almost all cars in downtown were not spared from the typhoon. Senator Enage Street, Tacloban City.



The unstoppable fire at the dead of the night.



A family friend’s commercial and residential building. My heart goes to them in these challenging times.



November 9, 2013. The day after the typhoon. Queuing up for water from a small pipe. Rizal Avenue, Tacloban City.



His innocent stare reminded me that nobody was spared from the typhoon as Gaisano Capital Department Store at the background was being looted.



The unwavering Filipino smile and spirit…



Walking under the fallen and tangled electric wires and posts. Senator Enage Street, Tacloban Ciy.



Discussing on what to do next and at the same time taking a rest.



A heavy load of speakers.



Spirit of “bayanihan” (unity)? Rizal Avenue, Tacloban City.



Brand new audio and speaker systems. Rizal Avenue, Tacloban Ciy.



A brand new refrigerator.



This boy sat and pondered on that fateful day.



Corner Stop Convenience Store looted. The owners are my friends, I sympathize them. While looting can be justified or not at these troubled times and is debatable, one thing is for certain, it has undeniably put Tacloban City deeper into the pit. The chance of businessmen and entrepreneurs to recover is now multiplied and magnified many times over to near impossible level. And since it would be the commercial establishments and businesses that can provide jobs to the jobless, the challenge is now more difficult than ever.



A pedicab to transport two dead bodies.



There used to be houses in this part of the city, but they were almost all washed out, as two girls tried to wash their hands using flooded water. Real Street, Sagkahan, Tacloban City.



Walking with a heavy load. Real Street, Sagkahan, Tacloban City.



Fallen trees and fences destroyed at the side of Tacloban City Convention Center (Astrodome).



Cars floated during the typhoon as they were swept away by the strong current and wind.



Concrete walls fell down. They had to pack their belongings well as they still have a long way to go…



Packs from Natasha outlet as he tried to cover his face.



“I love Tacloban.” The battle cry of a once highly urbanized city… we will still reach there. I still love Tacloban.



Market Saver’s Wholesale Club (right) and a partial view of Robinson’s Mall (left). Marasbaras, Tacloban City.



A view of Fatima at Marasbaras, Tacloban City.



The crowd rushing to Robinson’s Mall.



In and out of Robinson’s Mall. People rushing to go there, and some people coming out of the mall.



Resting and waiting with 2 cases of soft drinks and other items.



Punching bag.



Real Street, Tacloban City. 1/2 of the road was inaccessible due to the piles of debris and with one lane left, it caused a lot of traffic congestion as people walked through the streets.



The Tacloban City Convention Center (Astrodome) became a haven of many displaced residents.



November 11, 2013. The exodus from the typhoon. Countless of residents from Tacloban City and nearby towns had to flee to Cebu, Manila and elsewhere because of security issues as well as scarcity of food, water and medications. Taken at the slaughter house area (Diit, Tacloban City) where the traffic jam was around 9 hours for a 15-minute normal travel time to San Juanico bridge, the bridge connecting Leyte and Samar. Heavy traffic jam because the road was inaccessible on the other lane, the bottleneck of traffic cannot be contained with thousands of commuters moving in and out of Tacloban and limited traffic enforcers to control the traffic.



As long as we are together.



I still have a future.

All might be lost, but the human spirit shall live on. We will regain. We shall rise again. Keep the faith.

Photographer’s note: Nikon D3, Nikkor AFS 70-200mm 2.8 VRII, Panasonic GH3, Panasonic 12-35mm 2.8, Leica M Monochrom, Leica Summilux-M 50mm 1.4 ASPH

More related posts here:  The Typhoon Yolanda Aftermath

  • Abe Tan - Your photos are so heartwrenching. And you were able to capture the situation despite the danger. Glad to know you are safe here in Manila.ReplyCancel

  • Aimee - David… these photos break my heart. I’ve linked to your blog post and shared this on my blog post here: http://mamaof2greatkids.blogspot.ca/2013/11/what-if.html

    So glad your family is safe. We’ve been praying for all of you!ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - Abe, thank you. My instincts told me that I needed to document this from a perspective of a victim.ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - Aimee, thank you for all the prayers, they really helped a lot.ReplyCancel

  • BB - Dave, thank you so much for your words and your pictures. Thank goodness you and yours are safe. I, too, have shared this…via FB and have to believe that the world’s citizens will rise to help. It is very important for you to keep making your pictures.ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - BB, thank you so much. Your efforts and the community will surely go a long way to help the victims.ReplyCancel

  • Judy Dytiandu - Hi Dave,

    thank you… may i have permission to use your breastfeeding photo? I’m a breastfeeding advocate and it’s imperative that we protect the babies and mothers by following the guidelines of Infant and Young Child Feeding Policies set forth by the World Health Org. and that means no formula donations. we’ve formed a group to do this. your photo would help our cause greatly.. thank you!

    Judy (wife of yeavan, tf design)ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - Judy, sure, I’ll email you the photo. Thank you for your advocacy.ReplyCancel

  • John Brewton - Dave, thanks for posting these. My heart goes out to these unfortunate people. Very good reportage shots. They really help bring forth the reality of the situation.ReplyCancel

  • juanita ong - Dave,
    Really glad to hear that no one got hurt with your family and that you are all safe. Your pictures had shown us how horrific people had gone thru with typhoon Yolando. I can only imagine what you all felt then. My prayers for you and everyone greatly affected by this.ReplyCancel

  • barn balquiedra - Dave, we are so glad all of you are safe. Even my mother was asking about you. Kumusta ang house nyo at business nyo? Anything we can help you and your community please don’t hesitate to ask.ReplyCancel

  • Chris Leskovsek (@chris_leskovsek) - Hi Dave, Im speechless and theres no much i could say about this tragedy or your images. It is amazing you and hope your family are all well. As a fellow photographer like you, i got invited to this little project http://printsforphil.tumblr.com/ with other photographer to offer our work for simply a donation to raise some extra money to help the Phillippines. Is it possible that i could use one of your images the one with “Aftermath. People search around of what could still be recovered.” I can use in my blog to raise awareness?let me know.

    all the best!ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - John Brewton, thanks for your sympathy. The help coming in from different countries and walks of life is highly appreciated and greatly helpful for the victims.

    Juanita, thanks for the prayers and concern.

    Barn, thank God we are safe but we lost a lot along the way.

    Chris, sure you can use my photos to raise awareness- any help would go a long way. Bless your kind heart.

    God bless us all.ReplyCancel

  • junax - two thumbs up!! this really speaks for all of us..My heart is broken hearted until this moment of time. Thank you so much!!! I’ll definitely share this to everyone…ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - Junax, it’s heartwarming to know you share the same emotions with us. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Jocelyn Antonio-Lim - Hi Dave!!! So happy and relieved that you and your family are safe. Dave as always you have got the most amazing eye you truly captured the heart of it all I was crying as I was looking into these photos of yours. I can’t help it, after listening to my mom’s tale of survival and watching all of these I can’t help but be emotional.
    Dave may I ask persmission to use some of your photos to post in a fundraising site we are putting up to raise funds for Tacloban especially para han mga alumni ha Sacred Heart na nawarayan mga balay? Will definitely keep you posted about it. Thanks in advance.


  • xdayv - Jo, thanks for your care and sympathy. It’s relieving to hear from you that your family back home is alright. Yes you can use my photos, anything that can help the victims. God bless your kind heart. Regards!ReplyCancel

  • Ester Martinez-Reyes - The pictures are sad but shows the spirit of resilience, caring for one another, and they show both the best and worst in human nature in times of disaster. Self-preservation is very innate in any human being which nature has endowed to each and everyone of us so humanity can survive. Above all, I can see your professionalism in photography and perseverance to capture all the events that transpired during those fateful days. Above all, a very good documentary that no one can forget what happened to such beautiful places. Many thanks!

    I’m concerned about relatives. Can you tell me about yourself and your lineage? I’m sorry if I sound intrusive but I already lost contact of my relatives from Leyte since it has been more than 5 decades. Appreciate very much any info. Thanks and God bless.

    Awaiting for your kind reply.ReplyCancel

  • Alea Tijam - Good day!
    Can I ask your permission for using some of your photos related to typhoon Yolanda? We will be using it for our fundraising exhibit in University of Santo Tomas. Our exhibit entitled “Tanglaw: A Flicker of Hope for Christmas”. We will be designing the gallery here in UST and it requires some of the photos related to typhoon Yolanda. Your photos will be a great contribution for our fundraising exhibit. Thank you and God Bless!ReplyCancel

  • in awe - Still in awe xdayv despite of everything. God bless you and your family.ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - Ester, Ma’am thanks for your kind words, I immediately replied to you via email but somehow the mail bounced back. Kindly send me again your email address so that I can reply to you in detail.ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - Alea hi, just following up if you were able to use the photos for the exhibit? I just came back from Tacloban, let me know if you still need anything. I’m just an email away.ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - in awe – thank you for always dropping by my site. God bless you, I hope to know you someday.ReplyCancel

  • Alea - Hi Sir Dave, Yes, we were able to use your photos and it was so helpful in our exhibit. The opening will be next week so we are still working on our exhibit. Thanks for the pics. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • patrick - thanks for the images dave! it’s so sad to see the place i’ve live most of my life going to be like this.ReplyCancel

  • Mindy Tennant - Thank you, I was there I can feel the heart warming feeling of the people. I ‘am one of the lucky one, that I made my flight leaving on the following day. Thank you from the people of Tacloban and Eastern Samar.ReplyCancel

  • Jerry Sambo Yaokasin - Thank you very much for sharing the pics, Dave. They captured the best & the worst in us during & after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck our city.ReplyCancel

  • jake diaz - Taclobangon…!ReplyCancel

  • angel - crying da whole time watching da photos.
    BANGON LEYTE @ SAMAR….ReplyCancel


  • xdayv - Patrick – thank you for always dropping by my site. Indeed, it’s sad to see what Yolanda have left us. But we shall rise again.

    Mindy – You’re welcome. I’m glad to hear from you, and just like you we survived on what is said to be the biggest storm in history.ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - Jerry “Sambo” Yaokasin – Vice Mayor, thanks for dropping by. And more than that, thank you for all your efforts to help Tacloban rise again. God bless you.

    Jake – Agree, Taclobangon!!!

    Angel – am glad to know the photos touched you… I can understand why you felt that way. Really.

    Patton – you’re welcome. Thanks too.ReplyCancel

  • EMY C. PORCIL - NakakaawaReplyCancel

  • xdayv - Emy, indeed yes. Thanks for dropping by!ReplyCancel

  • Sturgeon - I hope the familys find good home and get help. God bless allReplyCancel

  • jmsay - Good morning Sir Dave! Can I use your photos, specifically those of Rizal Avenue, for a paper in my class? I have a P.I. 100 class and I am writing about the Rizal Avenue in Tacloban, and it would certainly help if my paper has pictures of Rizal Avenue before and after Yolanda. Thank you very much!ReplyCancel

  • xdayv - jmsay – thanks for asking, I appreciate you doing that, some would just go grab without asking permission. Please expect an email reply regarding this. Cheers!ReplyCancel

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