Neepawa man reaches family in Philippines weeks after storm

A Manitoba man who lost touch with his family after Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines has finally managed to reach his wife and children.

Typhoon Haiyan destroyed Kent Canasta's home community near Tacloban

Kent Canasta has finally made contact with his wife, Latecia, and children who were unreachable after Typhoon Haiyan struck the country on Nov. 8. (CBC)

A Manitoba man who lost touch with his family after Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines has finally managed to reach his wife and children.

Kent Canasta finally managed to reach his wife by telephone Sunday night, after not speaking since Nov. 8, when the typhoon hit.

“Sometimes in my room I cried because I [didn’t] know, but now, my worries is done. I’m relieved now.”
Canasta's wife, Latecia, their 10-year-old son Kenneth and 16-year-old daughter Sheila Mae are safe after a typhoon hit their Philippine town on Nov. 8. (Submitted by Kent Canasta)

His wife, Latecia, was left without a phone signal after the storm hit and travelled with her two children for eight hours from their town of Carigara to Leyte and then to Cebu to phone her husband.

“I’m so, so happy — very, very happy,” said Canasta. “I told her I love her, I miss her, I miss the kids.”

The family’s home is badly damaged, but they are living in it for the time being.

“She said the kids are OK. They’re OK. Our house is damaged. They are staying at one side of the corner [of the house.] There’s no electricity, just water. Food is very hard,” he said. “I’m very happy they’re alive.”

Canasta will remain in Neepawa so he can keep working to send money home to his family.

Canasta is one of more than 600 Filipino workers at HyLife Foods pork processing plant in Neepawa, in southwestern Manitoba.

The company has donated $20,000 to Philippine relief agencies since the typhoon.

Despite relief efforts there is still a lot to be done in the country, Canasta said.

“I’m very, very sad for those who lost their houses, who lost loved ones — especially the kids who lost their parents, especially that Christmas time is coming,” he said. “In our country, Christmas is celebrated very well, but now, I don’t know what it’s going to be like. I can’t imagine.”

Now, Canasta is working to bring his family to Canada and has looked into securing Visas for his family under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program.

He is also sending home triple the amount of money he normally does. He said the scarcity of food in the area has driven costs up. He plans to visit his family in the spring.

"I want to tell those Filipinos who are out there that just to stay strong and life must go on," he said.


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