On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever to make landfall, tore through nine regions of the Philippines, including Tacloban. Four years on, we returned to see how the city has changed after the fateful event that shook not only the entire country, but the whole world.

Up to 16 million people were affected by the typhoon that damaged nearly 1.2 million homes and structures across the country. For the city that is home to more than 242,000 inhabitants, the road to recovery is long and painful. Over the last three years, I’ve visited four times and most places seen are still reconstructing. But from what I can see, it is the people and their community spirit that are building the city back better and faster. The strength, resilience and fighting spirit of the local Waray-Waray people continue to impress me, and the city feels as if it’s pulsing with vibrancy and hope despite the challenges that hound it.

As the Haiyan anniversary rolls around each year, Tacloban not only pays respect to the thousands of lives lost, but also calls for climate justice and an end to fossil fuels so that no other town, city, or country has to experience what the people of Eastern Visayas went through. Though the city has changed, the memories of that fateful day serve as a marker for the people who celebrate November 8 as their collective “birthday.”

Then: Motorists drive past unidentified dead bodies, typhoon victims, lying on the side of a road in Burayan, San Jose, Tacloban City. © Matimtiman/Greenpeace Now: Like most towns, this part of San Jose is slowly rising up from the rubble. From shelled-out structures in the aftermath of the typhoon, now some houses are being renovated and roads reconstructed.  © Greenpeace/Grace Duran-Cabus

Then: Motorists drive past unidentified dead bodies, typhoon victims, lying on the side of a road in Burayan, San Jose, Tacloban City. © Matimtiman/Greenpeace
Now: Like most towns, this part of San Jose is slowly rising up from the rubble. From shelled-out structures in the aftermath of the typhoon, now some houses are being renovated and roads reconstructed.  © Greenpeace/Grace Duran-Cabus

 

 

Then: A man sifts through rubble looking for salvageable items in Tacloban City after it was hit by super typhoon Haiyan. © Matimtiman/Greenpeace
Now: On-going reconstruction in a row of apartments in Burayan, San Jose, Tacloban. ©Greenpeace/Grace Duran-Cabus

Then: A family takes refuge in a jeepney (the local form of transport) stop/waiting shed after it was hit by Typhoon Haiyan. © Matimtiman/Greenpeace
Now: Waiting shed for local commuters next to Rotary Club Center in Real St. Tacloban City. © Greenpeace/Grace Duran-Cabus

 

 

Then: A sea of debris in front of the Tacloban Provincial Capitol building. © Matimtiman/Greenpeace
Now: Situated near the coast, this government building was affected by a 15-feet storm surge brought by super typhoon Haiyan 4 years ago. © Greenpeace/Grace Duran-Cabus

 

Then: Authorities collect dead bodies, victims of the typhoon, near the Balyuan Amphitheater. © Matimtiman/Greenpeace
Now: Balyuan Amphitheater, a performing arts venue, reconstructed. This is a place where people exercise and play and where students hold rehearsals for school activities.
© Greenpeace/Grace Duran-Cabus


Then: An overturned car in Tacloban City center after it was badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan leaving hundreds dead and thousands missing. © Matimtiman/Greenpeace
Now: Most commonly known as the Eye Referral Building by the Taclobanons, this salon and spa building has been rehabilitated. © Greenpeace/Grace Duran-Cabus

 

Facade of Tacloban City Hall. © Greenpeace/Grace Duran-Cabus

The Philippines is no stranger to typhoons or to natural disasters. However, recent extreme weather events have become more frequent and devastating in the last decade due to climate change. Communities affected by extreme weather events like Haiyan have shown generosity and hospitality by helping one another get back on their feet, in stark contrast to the lack of serious action taken by carbon emitters who have benefited the most from the burning of fossil fuels at the expense of people and the environment.

Now more than ever, the world needs to demonstrate collective humanity. We need to be inspired by how a city like Tacloban has mustered their courage and creativity to stand back up, and use our voices to demand that fossil fuel companies be held responsible for the impacts that their business operations have on people’s lives.

The science is clear: pollution from fossil fuel companies drives climate change. Take action and add your name to hold the big polluters to account.