The Inbox

Hope rises from the rubble of ‘Pablo’

Loloy looks at what remains of his village

By Johnna Villaviray Giolagon, VERA Files

NEW BATAAN, Compostela Valley—As heart-wrenching as the devastation, is the survivors will to rise from the rubbles of what was once their homes.

“BABANGON TAYO! NEW BATAAN” is prominently painted on a mud-stained wall near the municipal hall.

Their needs  are  so simple and they can even afford to share in their time of want.

At the basketball court, 21-year-old Apple Grace Solmeron carefully made her way across the rain-drenched floor carrying 13-month-old Johann.  She is among the scores of evacuees that spent Christmas here ---and most likely the New Year, too.

“We’re lucky because we are all safe. We have enough food and other things that we need, but I really wish we could spend the holidays in our own home,” said Apple Grace, who is expecting her second child in eight weeks.

Apple Grace and JohannAcross the road in the grandstand, 52-year-old Luna Sumampong mirrored the young mother’s wish to be able to rebuild a home.

“They (displaced) are now very eager to return home and rebuild their lives. The only question is when they can go and where,” said New Bataan parish priest Fr. Edgar Tuling.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development has begun building temporary bunk houses where the displaced can stay until a more permanent shelter is made available for them.

Fr. Ed noted that New Bataan appears more organized than other areas hit by the typhoon. People from outside town are even coming in to partake of relief goods.

“We receive so much and it’s only right that we share what we have,” he said. “That is the Christian way.”

It was as if Armageddon came to pass on Dec. 4 in this mountainside village, days before the dreaded end of the Mayan calendar. (In the Bible, Armageddon is  the final battle at the end of the world between the forces of good and evil.)

Ushered by super typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha), winds that reached 185 kph uprooted trees, flattened banana and coconut plantations and blew away rooftops.

The wrath of PabloA flash flood from where locals call White Peak unleashed rampaging waters that devoured whole families and communities. Nothing was left but boulders, rubble and broken dreams in its wake.

Remegio Donato, a 44-year old church volunteer, paused from the task of sweeping mud and clearing debris from the Catholic chapel to survey the damage caused by the flash flood in Barangay Andap.

Looking out at what appeared to be a dry river bed, Loloy—as friends and family call Remegio—recalled that a residential neighborhood stood in the area before the disaster. It was where his parents and his brother’s family lived.

“Wala na (They’re all gone),” Loloy said with an impassive face, his arms crossed over his chest.

His 68-year-old mother was receiving first aid at the health center when the flash flood struck. The door had smashed into her hand as she gripped the door jamb for support against the whipping winds.

Pablo killed a total of 1,067 individuals in the five days the typhoon devastated Mindanao. Some 834 more people—including Loloy’s parents, his niece and her three-year-old daughter—remained missing in Pablo’s aftermath.

Loloy’s brother survived the flash flood but later succumbed to tetanus due to untreated wounds and scrapes sustained battling the current.

Some 2,666 persons suffered injuries due to Pablo, which affected 711,682 families or over 6.2 million individuals.

Pablo is considered the most devastating typhoon to hit the country since 1970 with damage to property reaching P36.9 billion.

For people like Loloy, the damage is all too real. He lost his house; coconuts and other fruit trees planted in the mountains were all uprooted; the farm he worked for part-time was washed away.

Some 235 families are currently huddled in makeshift evacuation centers like the typhoon-damaged covered basketball court and the elementary school grandstand in New Bataan town proper. A total of over 4,000 families were rendered homeless by Pablo.

Although the entire town is without electricity or running water, it appears it is not without hope.

A boy nibbles on a snack as his elders wait for food rations at the New Bataan elementary grandstand.“Immediately after the tragedy, people were understandably in shock. Many can’t sleep, talk or even cry. They would scramble for food because they didn’t know if the food assistance would be enough for everybody,” acknowledged Social Welfare regional director Pricilla Razon.

“(But) now, order has been established. People don’t fight over the relief assistance because they know there is enough,” she continued amidst an assortment of relief goods like bottled water and some non-food items.

As of December 27, DSWD records show that cost of assistance to 204,464families affected by Pablo has reached P175million.  The government assistance includes P44 million worth of family food packs.

Assistance from the World Food Program (WFP) is allowing government to allocate as much as 10 kilos of rice per family as well as other food items and supplements.

WFP deputy country director Asaka Nyangara acknowledged that the actual pledges and donations that have come in remain way below the target.

As it is, food supplies are enough to feed the displaced for three months. Beyond that point, authorities will need to sanitize the list to make sure that the neediest is prioritized.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Aquino appeals to Indonesia one more time to keep Filipina alive
    Aquino appeals to Indonesia one more time to keep Filipina alive

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he made one last appeal to the Indonesian government to spare a Filipina among nine prisoners set to be executed for drug trafficking on Tuesday as she could be a vital witness in prosecuting drug syndicates. It was Aquino's third personal appeal, after the Indonesian attorney general rejected the Philippines' request on Monday for a second judicial review of the case of Mary Jane Veloso, who her lawyers say merely served as an unknowing mule to drug …

  • Cheapest motorcycles in the Philippines under PhP 40,000
    Cheapest motorcycles in the Philippines under PhP 40,000

    Are you hunting for an affordable motorcycle which you can use for personal use or a family service vehicle? Carmudi PH presents to you some of the cheapest motorcycles in the Philippines today. These budget friendly motorbikes will surely not hurt your pockets, and you may even buy them on the spot instead of monthly […] The post Cheapest motorcycles in the Philippines under PhP 40,000 appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • Indonesia gears up for executions as families wail in grief
    Indonesia gears up for executions as families wail in grief

    Indonesia made final preparations Tuesday to execute eight foreigners by firing squad, as family members wailed in grief during last visits to their loved ones and ambulances carrying white coffins arrived at the drug convicts' prison. Relatives of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the Australian ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin trafficking group, arrived at Nusakambangan prison calling for mercy for their loved ones, with Sukumaran's sister collapsing in grief. They are among …

  • Labor Day heat index may heat feverish levels

    Temperatures could soar on Labor Day this Friday, with the "init factor" reaching the 40°C level in some areas of the country. Labor Day is a holiday in the Philippines, though many Filipinos are expected to go out to the streets to call for better working conditions. The so-called "init factor" or "heat index" gives the apparent temperature, taking into account the actual air temperature as well as other factors such as humidity. State weather agency PAGASA's Tuesday heat index indicated …

  • How Indonesia executes death row inmates
    How Indonesia executes death row inmates

    Indonesia is expected to soon execute by firing squad a group of nine convicts, most of them foreigners, for drug offences on the prison island of Nusakambangan in Central Java. The executions, which will be the second round under President Joko Widodo, have drawn international criticism and sparked diplomatic tensions with Australia, the Philippines, Nigeria and Brazil, which have nationals on death row. The group also includes a citizen from Indonesia. Recruits for the firing squad are …

  • Nine await mass execution in Indonesia, as foreign hopes for reprieve fade
    Nine await mass execution in Indonesia, as foreign hopes for reprieve fade

    By Kanupriya Kapoor CILACAP, Indonesia (Reuters) - Nine drug traffickers met their families for what could be the final time at an Indonesian maximum security prison on Tuesday, after Jakarta rejected international pleas for clemency and ordered their mass execution to proceed, possibly within hours. The death penalties imposed on eight foreigners and an Indonesian have been condemned by the United Nations, and strained ties between neighbours Australia and Indonesia. "We're hoping for a …

  • Isuzu PH announces new President
    Isuzu PH announces new President

    Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) formally announced the appointment of Hajime Koso as the new president replacing outgoing president Nobuo Izumina, who will be assigned as the Director of Isuzu Body Corporation, an affiliate of Isuzu Motors Limited (IML) in Japan. A native of Okayama Japan, the 57 years old executive has been working for IML for 35 […] The post Isuzu PH announces new President appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • Pacquiao sees fist of God delivering win over Mayweather
    Pacquiao sees fist of God delivering win over Mayweather

    Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao is confident he can beat American arch-rival Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Saturday with the power of God, after abandoning a life he said was packed with sin condemning him to hell. Pacquiao is in top form both in mind and spirit after he traded his boozing, gambling and womanising ways for a devout life of prayer, his spiritual adviser, Jeric Soriano, told AFP in a recent Manila interview. Except the world got to him," Soriano said of Pacquiao's …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options