The city of Baybay in Leyte has finally received government aid nearly three weeks after it was devastated by Typhoon Yolanda. Residents complained that previous relief efforts have bypassed their town on route to deliver goods to the provincial capital Tacloban and new component city, Ormoc.
While provincial capital Tacloban serves as the population and economic center of Eastern Visayas, Baybay was once considered its growth engine. That is, until the emergence of Ormoc as a first class city with its recent, rapid development. Since then, the federal government has focused its attention on Ormoc by investing in new equipment for the city, leaving Baybay to fend for itself with Tacloban’s old fire trucks and ambulances. “Those work fine. I mean, we used them and we turned out okay.”, insisted Tacloban Mayor, Alfred Romualdez. Baybay city officials tried to issue a reply to the media, but as usual, they were largely ignored.
Residents of Baybay tried to change this in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda by putting up distress signs, pleading with the media and hollering at passing relief convoys. The national government’s official stance on assisting Baybay, however, is that it will only encourage more disruptive behavior. With their survival at stake, residents took to dyeing their hair, dropping out of school, and joining a punk-rock band. In response, the Office of the President sent an official order to DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to have a word with Baybay Mayor Carmen Cari. Roxas warned Cari that if the Baybay residents persisted, they would be sent to their rooms without dinner, not realizing that the problem was precisely the lack of rooms and dinners. In response, the city of Baybay issued the following statement:
“I HATE YOU! I WISH I WAS NEVER MADE INTO A COMPONENT CITY! THE ONLY ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS ME IS SAM AND HE SAYS HE’S GOING TO TAKE CARE OF ME!”
Under threat of having a component city elope with an older, foreign government, the national government rerouted two relief caravans to Baybay. Residents welcomed the goods reluctantly and returned to trading bottle cap collections with residents of another middle-city, Basey, Samar.