Tips and Guides

Typhoon Haiyan: One Year Later

RL revisits the housing situation in Tacloban and nearby towns a year after


On November 8, 2013, super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) damaged about 54,231 homes in Tacloban City, displacing thousands of families, and killing many people in its wake. In this month’s issue of Real Living, writer and architect Amillah Rodil revisits the housing situation in Tacloban and nearby towns a year after.

Here, we give you tips on how to typhoon-proof your home, and on how to make a difference when it comes to climate change and disaster control. 

Read the whole story in the RL November issue. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.

*Photos courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Philippines.

Build a Calamity-Proof House

According to Christopher de la Cruz, president of the Philippine Green Building Council, “there is no one-size-fits-all design strategy; each has to be tailor-fitted to the size, budget, and other needs of the homeowner.” Here are some things to consider:

1. Choose a good site. “There must be particular focus on site selection.  When buying land, check a flood map. Visit Project NOAH (  Flood maps are a good reference when making decisions regarding purchasing land,” says Christopher.   

2. Know what you can and cannot do with your land. “Sometimes, proper site selection is not possible. Respect its limitations, and work with the land…also, get a good architect. He can provide the best advice on design best suited for your site condition.”

3. Build your home above flood level. “If the site is flood-prone and you do not have a choice, build homes on stilts. Identify the flood level. If you are new in the community, consult with your neighbors. They can give you the flooding history of the area.”

4. Consult with a licensed structural engineer. “He can provide advice on the best method of construction and structural materials that are best suited for the situation.”

Dealing with Climate Change

The reality of climate change can no longer be ignored. Last year’s Typhoon Haiyan was a tough wake-up call, but it’s not yet too late. “There are strategies that may be established, developed, and institutionalized to reduce, if not completely avoid, the amount of property damage, casualties, and fatalities experienced,” says Christopher de la Cruz, president of the Philippine Green Building Council. 

Christopher suggests establishing a public-private forum in order to gather expert advice. “This may be in the form of a committee…who should be ready to make decisions, partnered with the experts from the private sector, who are ready to provide the best technical and economic advice.  This partnership allows the government to leverage on the expertise, experience, and insight of the private sector. With decision-makers on the table, hopefully it reduces, if not totally avoid, bureaucracy and red tape,” he says. Christopher adds that the outcomes of the public-private forum should be relayed to local government units and be made into ordinances. 

Plans must then be properly implemented afterwards. “Ensure that a robust capability building program be put in place to support these plans. We need our building officials, city architects, and city engineers to be fully aware of the plans and the local executives’ commitment to ensure that these plans are delivered,” adds Christopher. The private sector must also do its part. “The private sector must ensure that they adhere to resiliency plans developed and established by their local governments.  Successful outcomes can only be possible if the private sector commits to compliance.” —Katherine Lopez


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