Nov 20, 2018

How does a province recover from a huge tragedy? I come from Iligan, a city that was hit by Tropical Storm Sendong seven years ago. The flood caused by the storm took away the lives of many. My house then was in the highlands, thankfully, so my immediately family wasn’t affected, but I knew people who weren’t so lucky. My friend lost her grandparents (after the flood, when she and her family came to rescue them, they found the elderly couple’s wet corpses on the sofa, their hands still locked). My best friend lived in the immediate vicinity of the flood, and for a few days the rest of my barkada and I lost contact with her. As my parents and I would visit the different refugee centers scattered around the city to deliver donations, I would scan the makeshift tents, hoping I would find her there, safe. We eventually found her, and she was okay, fortunately, but her house was not.

Even a year after the storm, whenever a fall of rain threatened to rage stronger, we would find her shaking. And flash forward to now, many survivors of the flood are still living in small housing projects, ones given either by the government or by NGOs.

But that was Iligan, and Sendong, though strong, was just a tropical storm. In truth, as horrible as Sendong was, it had nothing on what the people of Leyte went through five years ago when Typhoon Yolanda struck their land.

The Farm at Ginsiyaman, a farm just outside Tacloban

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’d have seen pictures of the devastation, images of a province laid waste scattered across news outlets, the internet, wherever. It’s the kind of disaster that completely changes the face of an area, and it’s hard to get back from. In commemoration of that dark chapter in the province’s history, For The Love of Leyte, a non-profit and benefit music and arts festival, will be held from November 30 to December 1 at The Farm at Ginsiyaman.

The festival aims to celebrate the resilience of the people of Leyte and reintroduce the province to tourists by showcasing the province’s thriving artisanal and creative industry. Aside from the musical acts, there will be cultural workshops and art exhibits, showing off to visitors the beauty of Waray culture and products. The workshops will include classes on tuba painting and banig weaving. There’ll also be market stalls where people can buy artisanal wares.

A sneak peek of the artisanal finds you can expect to see at the festival

You can’t bring up a music festival without talking about its lineup, and this festival has a pretty impressive one, even featuring acts from outside the country. Headlining the event are Leyte-born artist Bullet Dumas, as well as The Itchyworms, Ben&Ben, and UK-based artist Kiko Bun. To see more of their lineup, check out their event poster:

If you’re worried about finding your way to the event, there will be shuttle rides from Tacloban to the farm for a minimum fee. All attendees are also highly encouraged to bring their own tents and camp out at the farm grounds (camping space is free for all ticket holders). In case you were wondering, all proceeds of the festival will be used for the “rebuilding of the Leyte arts, culture and tourism sector.”

For those interested in learning more about the event, head on over to their website or their Facebook page. #SeeYouLeyte, folks.

Photos courtesy of For The Love of Leyte

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