Cano said the hilly region of corn, rice and coconut farms was prone to landslides, but they were usually small and not fatal.
In the hardest-hit province of Leyte, 36 people died and 26 were missing due to landslides, according to local authorities. Some houses were shown buried in mud up to the rooftops.
Daniel Racaza, 26, lives in the nearby village of Kantagnos, which an official said had been hit by two landslides. He was asleep when an avalanche of mud and water swept over the riverside community.
He managed to escape with his boyfriend and 16 relatives, but an aunt was caught in the torrent.
“I only managed to save my cellphone and we have nothing to go back to,” Racaza told Agence France-Presse.