What Typhoon Haiyan tried to take away, Yellow Doors Hostel in Tacloban gives back by transforming even the shabbiest of items into beautiful art
Written by Meriam Otarra
Photos courtesy of Yellow Doors Hostel
There is something very evocative about ruins—perhaps it’s the sense of history and antiquity, with a whiff of genteel decay that brings on feelings of nostalgia. It’s something the Yellow Doors Hostel tries its best to invoke for its guests.
Lucia Palami opened Yellow Doors on November 6, 2014, a year after Typhoon Haiyan (locally called “Yolanda”) devastated Tacloban. Like the rest of the four million people who were forced to flee their homes because of the typhoon, the Palami family abandoned their now unlivable house and stayed in a hotel for at least a hundred days before moving to a new apartment. During the height of Yolanda efforts, they also wanted to rent a place to accommodate volunteers and friends who wanted to come to Tacloban to help.
The three-storey building they found in the center of Tacloban was abandoned, with a little “Room for rent” sign hanging outside the battered door. When Lucia and her brother saw the place’s potential, they quickly contacted the owners, who had moved to the US.
Today, it is a hip hostel—the name “Yellow Doors” is a nostalgic nod to the bright yellow door that once welcomed them to the home they can no longer return to.
Most of the decorations inside the hostel are upcycled pieces from the debris left behind by Yolanda. Some were donated; others were retrieved from the streets. The table at the common area? It was once a suitcase owned by a nun.
The highlight of the hostel, however, is the Hall of Doors collected from all over Leyte, a reminder of the luster of what once was a highly urbanized city. They are small pieces of history, made special by those who once loved the homes these doors opened up to.
Yellow Doors is perched on Burgos Street, a strip of bars and cafés, dubbed the Maginhawa Street of Visayas. Lucia explains that on their street, creativity among locals is encouraged. “I think now is the perfect time to build whatever you have to build.” She adds that people often ask if guests are likely to come, and she responds quietly that people will come if it is there.
Yellow Doors has two private rooms and two dormitory rooms, and can accommodate up to 22 people at once. Being the first hostel in Tacloban, Lucia wants to introduce the hostel culture to the community and has made the terrace public for people who want to make friends with their guests. You can even bring your own food and drinks!
Beyond mere chilling out and drinking, Yellow Doors encourages guests to volunteer at any of the three non-government organizations or NGOs they are currently partnered with. “We want to be a volunteer hub. Tacloban still needs your help,” says Lucia.
Besides partnering with more NGOs in the future, Lucia is also planning to create walking tours around Tacloban and tours to Kalanggaman, a beautiful sandbar three hours from the city. With this, the Palami siblings behind Yellow Doors are hoping to attract more tourists to Tacloban to inspire them with what they have created amid the ruins.
Yellow Doors Hostel is located at the corner of Burgos Street and Juan Luna Street, Tacloban City. For more information, follow them on Instagram (ydhostel), like them on Facebook (helloyellowdh), or phone (+63 917) 934 9499