“The winds made the survivors feel like they were inside a washing machine. Guiuan was a place where the destruction and extreme anxiety did not make any sense.”

These were the words of Agustina Opana, Guiuan National High School’s Supreme Student Government President as she recalled how it felt like when Yolanda came.

The SSG President also said that it was an experience where help took so long to come and the living coexisted with the dead after the storm. The storm surge took away their loved ones, families were unsure of how to start again after seeing their damaged crops, and the schools turned into a land with no traces at all just like theirs.

“Yolanda was a story of how each of the dead should have not died,” she said.

Five years following Super Typhoon Yolanda, help for the calamity-stricken areas continues. As part of its rehabilitation efforts for Yolanda-affected areas, through the donations given, Operation Sagip turned-over two Yolanda Legacy Projects in Guiuan Nation High School in Guiuan, Eastern Samar and Eastern Visayas State University in Tacloban, Leyte.

In partnership with Energy Development Corporation for project implementation, a Yolanda Legacy Project is a disaster-resilient multipurpose two-storey building with eight classrooms that has a kitchen and a shower area. It can withstand up to 300kph of wind and a magnitude of 7.2 earthquake. The building is also convertible to an evacuation center if the need arises.

The new classroom building in Guiuan NHS. It was 90% completed upon the turn-over ceremony. Operation Sagip and partners is set to finish the construction of the remaining 10% by last week of April this year.

Each classroom is well-ventilated, with high ceiling, and with supply of water and electricity. Each is also provided with a complete set of arm chairs and chalk board.

Despite what happened, Agustina remains with a positive disposition. During the turn-over of the new classrooms in Guiuan NHS, she said, “All is not gone. We still have the capacity to hope, believe and have faith. God never fails to bring us good people.”

Aside from receiving a classroom building, Guiuan National High School also received different soft programs from ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya’s Programa Genio.

“The ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya has been helping Guiuan NHS for a year, from capability building which equips teachers’ to uplift their teaching competence and teaching pedagogies,” Benjamin Campomanes, Guiuan NHS Principal said.

Campomanes believes that the trainings put “leverage to their students over others in different local, division, and regional spar” as their school paper named “One Day” won in Division and Regional competitions. “With the aid of the (Journalism) training, our students have experienced real simulcast in radio and TV which enabled them to become professional radio and TV anchors or reporters,” he pointed out.

Programa Genio also provided career coaching to Guiuan NHS Grade 10 students while teachers were given various seminar-workshops on computer literacy, strategies in classroom management, art of questioning, and adult learning. “All of these are geared towards upgrading the instructional competence of our teachers to promote quality education,” he added.

Guiuan NHS also received Technical-Vocational-Livelihood (TVL) Tools and equipment for their K-12 tracks such as Food Beverage Services and Cookery, Electrical Installation, Automotive Servicing, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Eastern Visayas State University was not far from the damage that happened in Guiuan NHS.

“Noong tamaan kami ng Bagyong Yolanda, malaki ang damage dito sa University. Marami kaming mga roofs na tanggal lahat. Most of the classrooms na nandoon sa third floor, wala ‘yon. Hindi siya magamit (When Yolanda hit, it caused a big damage in our University. The roofs of the classrooms were blown away. We cannot use most of the classrooms at the third floor),” Dr. Ronald Madera, Project Solicitor and EVSU’s NSTP Director said.

Madera said that they had to use make-shift classrooms just to conduct classes but these were not conducive for learning.

EVSU after Yolanda

But with the new eight classrooms, he believes that the new classroom building will be a big help in accepting the enrollees of EVSU as it caters the largest population of students in the whole Eastern Visayas region.

Operation Sagip also partnered with Sy^2+ Associates, Inc. and Casas+ Architects who made the building design of the Yolanda Legacy projects pro bono.

EVSU’s Yolanda Legacy Project building

For Architect Jim Abaloyan, one of the architects from Casas+ Architects and an alumnus of Guiuan NHS and EVSU, it was his time to give back to his community.

“All communication lines were lost, I had no way to contact my family in Guiuan,” Arch. Abaloyan recalled.

“Casas Architects know that after the relief operations, we could make more lasting impact for the rehabilitation of Samar and Leyte. We offered our design services (for the Yolanda Legacy Project) free of charge as part of our corporate social responsibility,” he added.

On the other hand, Engr. Boy Sy, President of Sy^2+ Associates, Inc. said, “This is actually a God-given talent so, in terms of giving free designs and services to a charity, to churches, to a school, and to everybody who needs it, why not give it back?”

Operation Sagip has a total of four Yolanda Legacy Projects.

November of last year, the Yolanda Legacy project in Margen National High School in Leyte was turned over. This April, the eight-classroom building in Concepcion, Iloilo is expected to be turned over to Roberto H. Tirol National High School.

To date, without the Yolanda Legacy Projects, Operation Sagip already completed 135 classrooms in Yolanda areas. These classroom buildings were also implemented by EDC and designed for free by WV Coscolluela and Associates Architects.