Mothers in typhoon-ravaged areas yearn for homes

Jan. 07, 2013

“The typhoon and floods may have swept away, if not killed, my loved ones and wrecked our house.  But it didn’t break my spirit,” she said as she hoped for a brighter day.

Davao Today

NEW BATAAN, Compostela Valley, Philippines — Exactly a month after typhoon Pablo, mothers in this town have courageously tried to rise from the devastation they never thought would happen, not even in their wildest dreams.

Gabriela Apao, 46, a peasant who lives in Purok 17 in Poblacion village told she still cannot forget her two grandchildren who were swept by the floods.  One of them would still be here, she said, only if her grandchild didn’t slip from her grip.  Five other family members and relatives are still missing.

“The typhoon and floods may have swept away, if not killed, my loved ones and wrecked our house.  But it didn’t break my spirit,” she said as she hoped for a brighter day.

This mother of five yearns to rebuild their house and their lives as her family has been staying in the evacuation center for about a month.

Judith Taduyan Abonero, 32, a mother of three shared the same dream.  “I’m asking for government’s help.  We badly need a roof over our heads,” she said.

Abonero wants to put her house back where it used to stand.  But if the rest of the residents are not going back in Purok 17, she’d rather relocate to a safer place, she said.  She was fortunate that her kids and husband are all safe.

She said that Pablo was the first typhoon she had ever experienced in her entire life.  All their belongings were swept by the flashfloods saved for the packs of noodles which they ate — raw.

Maayo gani kay naay noodles.  Among gikilaw uy kay  wala man gyuy laing kaonon.  Agwanta mi uy,” she recounted.

Now, she makes do with her earnings as a collector of a cooperative.  But she said their creditors are hardly able to pay as they are banana and coconut farmers who were affected by Pablo.

The banana and coconut industry in Compostela Valley province was badly affected with billions worth of loss.

Mao pod ni among problema karun unsaon namo pagpanginabuhi nga wala naman mi kalubihan ug kasagingan,” she said.  Her mother’s piece of land for banana and coconuts was devastated.

After Pablo, her family stayed for a few days in the evacuation center.  Now, they are staying in the cooperative’s office.

Alma De Guzman Sasedo, 28, a resident of Purok 1 is also temporarily staying in the cooperative office.

Temporary lang gyud mi diri.  Wala pa gyud mi kaseguruhan kung asa gyud mi ani padulong.  Ang among balay dili na gyud pwede pabalikan kay Government Area mana dinha unya riverside mao nang dili na gyud siya pabalikan og puyo.  Sa pagkakarun nagpaabot pa gyud mi nga marelocate mi,” she said.

This mother of two has been hoping that the government will help them rebuild their house and maybe even give them livelihood.  If not, she expects that she’ll be staying at the office in not less than six months.

While she works at the cooperative, her husband volunteers in cutting the logs around the area.  Their two motorcycles were swept away by the floods.

Ruth Resame, 34, married with one child lamented that they no longer have livelihood.  “Panginabuhian namo diri kopras, saging.  Dili naman mi kapanguma diri.  Six years pa ni mobalik og bunga,” she said.

The purok 17 in Poblacion village has few houses left but they are not useful anymore as they were buried in mud.  The residents can no longer locate the exact location of their place as it was literally erased in the map with boulders and huge trunks of logs all over the place.  In this sub-village alone, 77 were reported missing but only six bodies were retrieved.

Despite the great loss, these mothers are still yearning for brighter days, trying to move on, if not revive the past that’s was once full of life and happiness.  (Irene V. Dagudog/

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