Social media reunites Typhoon Haiyan survivors with central Fla. family



ORLANDO, Fla. - For weeks, heartbreaking stories have been pouring in of central Florida Filipinos struggling to get in touch with their families hit by Typhoon Haiyan.

Little did anyone know one of those stories would help reunite an Orlando man with family he hadn't heard from in days.

Cesar Villanueva's hurt was palpable behind his eyes in the initial aftermath of the typhoon.

But Villanueva said tears he had Tuesday were ones of joy.

It was a week's worth of pain from watching images from the Philippines not knowing if his nephews made it out alive.

"I'm happy ... I'm relieved ..." Villanueva said.

There's a smile on his face, one that won't disappear after he finally talked to his nephews who were missing in Tacloban.

"I cried. Cried for happiness and still sorry for what happened to them," Villanueva said.

The power of social media helped Villanueva connect with his family. He posted the first story to his Facebook page and from there it traveled around the world to a relative in Manila, who was also trying to reach the same family in Tacloban.

Once the story reached them, Villanueva received something he never thought would come: a text message in the country's native language from his nephew, who was alive and well.

"Tulungan mo kmi nbgyohan kmi," the message read, which means, "Please help us. We had a typhoon here."

While the typhoon left Villanueva's nephew, like many others, with only the items they could carry, he's happy he's alive.

Villanueva said he knows his family doesn't have much left, but it's more than some people, who are still searching through the piles of what Typhoon Haiyan left behind.

"I'm always hoping and praying that everyone will be fine over there," Villanueva said.