‘Pablo’ devastation ‘unexpected,’ Davao Oriental governor wept


A rescuer covers bodies recovered from flashflood in New Bataan, Compostela Valley province, on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. AP PHOTO/KARLOS MANLUPIG

TARRAGONA, Davao Oriental—The sound of the wind coming from the Pacific Ocean at 3 a.m. was so horrible that residents of this coastal town thought the sky was ripping apart.

Curious and terrified, the residents could see only the dark horizon.

The sounds of trees crashing to the ground, houses and objects toppling, the crying of children and women were all muted by the howling wind.

By this time, the electricity went off, worsening the darkness that had already engulfed the town.

The sun showed up several hours later, shedding light on the devastation that was everywhere.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I am now 45, but I have not experienced anything like this before,” Sonny Tadanon, a fisherman and a father of nine, said at the evacuation center in the town proper here. Tadanon recounted how he saw debris flying all over town.

“It was really unexpected,” he said.

His brother’s wife, Nelfa, 41, said that when she returned to the village after the typhoon, all she could see was the ugly sight that typhoon Pablo had left behind. “We were just fortunate that we were spared from harm,” she said.

But others were not as lucky.

Dozens of people died in the province, according to Fred Bendulo, the provincial planning and development officer.

“These reports came from our social welfare personnel, but we could not verify it as the towns of Cateel, Boston and Baganga were totally cut off,” he said, adding that roads were damaged and bridges had collapsed.

The devastation was so extensive that Gov. Corazon Malanyaon wept.

“When I gave her the initial briefing later in the day, she could not believe what she just heard and she began weeping,” Bendulo said.

Malanyaon later told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that even she was so scared when the strong wind hit Mati.

“I felt that it was going to put Mati down. I was also so scared, especially at the thought that many of those in the coastal areas were in a more precarious situation,” she said.

What added to her burden, Malanyaon said, was that some people insisted on staying in their houses even when told to evacuate.

Malanyaon said the devastation that Pablo brought to the province was only one of the major concerns.

She said many people lost their livelihood as a result and people could be pushed deeper into poverty. “I cannot make the assurance that the province can take care all of their problems,” she said.

In New Bataan, one of the hardest-hit areas in Southern Mindanao, disbelief was etched at every face the Inquirer saw.

It was as if they were still trying to piece together the events that led to the massive devastation and deaths around them.

Outside the public gymnasium, villagers waited as news about their missing kin, neighbors and acquaintances came in trickles.

When a military truck ferrying rescued injured villagers, a mixed feeling was all too evident as residents stood up in anticipation of seeing somebody close to their hearts.

Seven-year old Imee Sayson was among those barely breathing when plucked out of the mud by rescuers.

“She was fortunately found by rescuers, but her father, Rommel, and her brother Ayel are still missing,” Red Cross volunteer Vic Paulo Bandong said.

Imee was suffering from hypothermia, Bandong said.

When the Philippine Daily Inquirer tried to ask her questions, her only response was: “Kaihion ko (I’d like to take a leak).”

Among those still looking for relatives on Wednesday was Juniper Serato, who counts at least six family members, including his parents—Flavianas and Isaias—and sister Shiela, as among the missing.

Soon, cadavers came in batches—some still unrecognizable because of the dirt and mud that covered them.

“I had difficulty recognizing the faces because the bodies are bloated,” he said, pointing to several dead bodies that were laid on the ground. Some were starting to stink from being in the water for several hours.

“I am so worried now,” he said, apparently holding back his emotions.

According to Bandong, rescuers lacked vehicles to transport affected individuals to evacuation centers and the bodies to a place where residents can identify them.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the death toll in the town was at 79, based on the tally released by the New Bataan government.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • ed_dAVAO

    what do you expect of a super typhoon.

  • kilabot

    and the congs insist on discussing the rhbill rather than this calamity; 
    a perverted priority;

    No to perversion!

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    Gobernor hindi mo natandaan ang kasabihan “Expect the unexpected”, always assume the gun is always loaded, never assume security perimeter will never be compromised! Those who insisted on staying should be forced! you have the authority and should’ve used it. 

  • TheGUM

    Very well-written report.  Sad, but well-written.  Thank you.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QZZKXPEA67I7HELEIYM35QVYFA Jon

    Kailan daw dadating ang mahal na Presidente para tumulong?

    • bugoybanggers

      Hindi natin kailanagan si Presidente, kailangan natin ay PERA para mapa-AYOS lahat na nasira. Bakit gusto mo palang maging CIRCUS ang trahedya? Puno ng ARTISTA at mga EPAL na galing sa LUZON para gawing BOBO ang mga BOTANTE. Bakit ano ba ang tingin ninyo sa LUZON hindi binabagyo? Aba mas BAGYUHIN pa sila kaysa MINDANAO kaya ibuhos nalang nila ang kanilang UTAK o EPALISTIC attitude sa lugar nila. Kapag pupunta ang mga iyan sa MINDANAO para ano? MEDIA PRESS RELEASE na naman. HINDI po nagpapababang URI kaming mga taga MINDANAO. Hindi kami tulad ng mga tao ninyo na maraming gahaman sa RELIEF GOODS.. sige ibigay nalang ninyo sa mga eskwaters na nakatira diyan sa lugar ninyo.

  • bugoybanggers

    Alam ng lahat lalo na tayong mga TAGA MINDANAO na ang MINDANAO ay hindi talaga daanan ng BAGYO. Kaya nga napakaYAMAN ng ISLA natin. Kayang mabuhay kahit wala pa iyang mga TAGA LUZON. Mapalad at pinagPALA ang MINDANAO kasama na ang PALAWAN kaya makakabangon din tayo. Hindi na natin kailangan iyang mga POLITIKONG taga LUZON para magdala ng mga EPAL na relief na bulok na mga sardinas kasama na ang mga ASWANG na mga artista para pasikatan kayo. Bakit ano pa ba ang gagawin nila dito? Ang importante ay ang PERA hindi CARA nila para mag papaEPAL na naman. Tayong mga tagaMINDANAO ay may paninindigan at paniniwala na LAHAT kayang lampasan. Hayaan ninyo sa mga susunod na BAGYO, malakas pa kay SENDONG ang gugulanta sa ISLA ng SAKIM na LUZON. Nadadamay tayo sa kamalasan dahil nakadikit tayo sa mga NAKAKAMALAS.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AVMF52MK2ZW2XCZY5GFQLI72IY JOSHUA

    dala yan ni calunsod…ang bagong santo ng mga pinoy…

  • Dan WE

    I am sorry Roman Catholics but as what I observed, when the Black Nazarene was sent for procession in Bulacan; right then it was flooded which people said they never experienced for several decades except when they recalled that the previous flooding was also after the black Nazarene’s having motorcade in Bulacan.

    When St. Pedro Calungsod called as the new Filipino Saint, Cebu was flooded right then.  My Question is how comes Joshua claiming St. Pedro Calungsod is the reason for Davao Trajedy? Did you bring St. Pedro Calungsod to Davao?

    It seems like GOD the almighty Father doesn’t want that his people will pray again for another gods aside from HIM. Read the Holy Bible when prophet Moses told by God in anger to return to his place because his people starts praying to cows, stones, etc as their new gods.  I hope this is different because majority of my relatives including my mom are die-hard Roman Catholics.

    • shots_fired

      what do you expect from catholics??, they are just blinf followers, following there blind leaders. Ang laki ng nakalagay sa bible na ‘You shall not have any other GOds before me’. ayaw parin ang tigas ng ulo

      • http://www.facebook.com/Gj24fll Gj Bernido

        so you’re saying that they deserve it cause of their religion..? 
        Being happy at other people’s misery… you think God would like that? Stop making comments like that at times like this.. They need sympathy.. 

      • shots_fired

        Miss Gj your replying to my comment because you have read and understood it from a context or from a pretext point of view?

  • shots_fired

    kawawa naman mga kababayan natin. tsk

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos