There is something very evocative about ruins. It’s the feel of decay and antiquing that allows for the emergence of nostalgia—and that is exactly what Yellow Doors Hostel is trying to invoke.
Lucia Palami opened Yellow Doors Hostel on November 6, 2014, a year after Typhoon Haiyan struck 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 unliveable 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 tattered door. When Lucia and her brother saw the potential, they immediately called the owners who have moved to the US. Now, it has been transformed by the siblings into a hip hostel, naming it Yellow Doors, which is reminiscent to their own bright, yellow door at home to which they cannot go back to.
Most of the decorations inside the hostel are upcycled pieces from the remains of Yolanda. Some have been donated and some were just picked up while walking around Tacloban. 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 all throughout Leyte. They all evoke a reflection of the luster of what once was a highly urbanized city, therefore envelop a piece of history, and the pain connected to each of them makes everything special. The hostel has the perfect location as well. Burgos Street, dubbed as the Maginhawa Street of Visayas, is a strip of bars and cafes. Lucia exerts that in Burgos Street, creativity among locals is encouraged. “I think now is the perfect time to build whatever you have to build. People often ask, ‘May pupunta ba?’ but I just tell them, ‘Walang pupunta kung walang gagawa.’”
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!). But it’s not all chilling and drinking unlike other hostels because Yellow Doors encourage their guests to volunteer to any of the three NGO’s they have partnered with at the moment. “We want to be a volunteer hub. Tacloban still needs your help,” says Lucia. Besides partnering with more NGO’s in the future, Lucia is also planning to create walking tours around Tacloban and tours to Calanggaman, a beautiful sandbar three hours from the city. With this, the Palami siblings behind Yellow Doors are hoping to bring in more tourists to Tacloban and inspire them with what they have created with the ruins.