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How One Designer Gave Typhoon Debris A Second Chance At Life

  • Posted by Peter Glatzer on January 22, 2015 in Design
  • Interview by Scott Pierce

    Bernardo Urbina is a furniture designer from Costa Rica. After graduating from Pratt and receiving his Master's from Politecnico de Milano, he realized he wasn't ready to completely pack his bags and go home. But he was ready for a new kind of metropolis.

    So he ended up in Cebu City, the Philippine's second most populous city after Manila, which is also one of the world's premiere places for furniture production. It gave Bernardo everything he wanted. Until disaster struck.

    At the end of 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, more than 6,000 people lost their lives. The winds calmed. But the relief effort that following meandered at a glacial pace. Decimated infrastructure ensured roads remained closed. Many lacked access to clean water and aid supplies.

    But Bernardo confronted the disaster's wake head-on. He quickly traveled from Cebu City to Tacloban, one of the worst effected areas in the country. Eventually, he started Tacloban Prevails, which transforms scraps and debris from Haiyan into beautiful pieces of furniture. 

    He's not only given waste a new life. Part of Tacloban Prevails profits go to those impacted by the storm.

    I recently chatted with Bernardo about how he's journey from Cebu to Tacloban changed his life.

    Hi Bernardo, thanks for chatting. Can you take a moment to describe how you experienced Haiyan? 

    I went to my friend's house up in the mountains for three days and waited for the Typhoon to pass. I wasn't aware of the strength of the storm since electricity was out for most of the time. I was only able to send texts back home informing that I was safe.

    What went through your mind when you realized how bad it was?

    I saw the news I was in disbelief by the after effects of the storm. Days went by and the affected Filipinos were not receiving the necessary aid they needed from the government. There was more help coming from the citizens living in neighboring towns that were not affected as much. It was so easy to find a way to help. MORE


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