DAVAO CITY, Philippines – “It was crowded that night and everyone was busy”. The survivors of the Roxas night market bombing recalled what happened on the night the city was under threat two years ago.
Carlie Los Baňes, 32, a masseur, was just three chairs away from the location of the bomb massaging his client when it exploded and he immediately fell to the ground. At first, he said, he saw his two friends who are also massage therapists bloody and wounded.
The explosion was too loud he couldn’t hear anything. Seconds after he gained his consciousness, Los Baňes said he was drenched with blood from the victims.
Los Baňes said he saw two of his longtime friends Maria Luz P. Arellano and Rogelio Cagantas Jr. both spitting blood and dying.
“They tried to talk but the blood keeps coming from their mouth. We tried to help them, but could not do anything, They had wounds all over, their arms and legs were detached from their body” said Los Baňes
But despite what happened to him, Los Baňes said he was not part of survivor’s master list because he did not go to the hospital due to fear and even lack of means. But, he said, he went to the police station to give a statement.
Jerome Carayao, 23, a barbeque vendor was wounded during the blast. He was standing at that time waiting for the customer to order when he heard the loud explosion and immediately fell to the ground.
Initially, he said, he did not feel the sharp nails hit his left arm and his blood starting to flow out.
“Because I didn’t know what was happening I kept myself down on the ground. I couldn’t hear anything because I was so shocked and dizzy “ Carayao said.
Los Baňes and Carayao were immediately rescued and secured from the crime scene.
Los Baňes who became emotional after recalling the incident said he was thankful for his friends who became his shield against the bomb explosion.
“Maria Luz and Rogelio were both my good friends. I am saddened that they died but I am also thankful to them because I am still alive. Had they not been there, I think I would be among the dead,” he said.
Los Baňes chose to remain as a massage therapist in Roxas night market but admitted that he is worried about his security every time.
He said that every time hears sudden, loud sounds, he feels fear.
While Carayao also chose to work again in Roxas night market, he said that he is more observant of the people and things around him.
With the presence of more security personnel in the area, he said he feels more secure but at the same time cautious of whatever possibilities that may come along.
A day before the second year anniversary a mass was offered by Archbishop Romulo Valles and attended by Mayor Sara Duterte, victims, families and other government officials.
The homily centered on “Life is here” which is the infamous tagline of the city’s symbol of power and unity.
Archbishop Romulo Valles said that “remembering the tragic incident (is) remembering also how united we are, how resolute we are, and how resilient we are in times of adversities and we are proud to be people of the city of Davao and that is what we bring to the Lord.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Sara Duterte- Carpio was in tears when she gave her speech after the mass. She extended her gratitude to those who extended efforts during the incident but also reminded the people in authority not to be complacent and should listen to our intelligence reports.
“I always try to tell you what happened that night from my eyes as Mayor that time but every time I try to find the words, I become emotional. This is not a happy activity but this should serve as a reminder to all people in government particularly the PNP and AFP of what happens when we become complacent and we do not listen to our intelligence reports and we do not check and recheck the things that we need to do,” the Mayor said.
After the mass, the mayor led the lighting of candles in the memorial monument for the fifteen victims of Roxas night market bombing along with the survivors, families and city officials.(davaotoday.com)