“It was as if the earth itself had stopped breathing” How the Manobo survived and thrived after Typhoon Haiyan

Tess McClure

Chieftan of the Manobo Tribe, Leyte, Philippines 2014. Copyright Tess McClure Chieftan of the Manobo Tribe, Leyte, Philippines 2014. Copyright Tess McClure

The night before the storm came, the birds stopped singing.

“Nothing made a sound,” she says.

“It was like the earth itself had stopped breathing.”

She told the tribe to prepare. That night, she climbed the mountain behind them to pray.

Divina Padecio, Chieftainess of the Manobo tribe, has lived in this forest for almost thirty years – long enough to know every sound by heart, she says. But on the first week of November last year, the trees and animals sounded different.

“They were different sounds to anything we had ever heard before,” she says, “So we listened.”

Isolated from the world without television, internet or electricity, news had not reached the tribe of the super-typhoon building itself into a fury out in the South China Sea.

Below the hills, in the city of Tacloban, the government had…

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