Quantcast
Latest Stories

Victims’ toughness, grace generosity awe rescuers

By

Filipinos are a tough breed. Nowhere was this more evident than in heartwarming scenes that unfolded in New Bataan town in the province of Compostela Valley in the aftermath of Typhoon “Pablo.”

Rescue squads that descended on this farming and mining town were by turns astounded and inspired by the open-arm welcome from the residents, whose actions bespoke their resilience.

While many were still stunned and in tears over dead or missing loved ones, others showed remarkable toughness of spirit and calm. Against a backdrop of uprooted trees, ruins of houses and the stench of bodies decomposing under the rubble, the residents could still smile.

At a school grandstand serving as an evacuation center in Barangay Cabinuangan, hundreds of villagers poured in on hearing word that fresh supplies of relief goods were to be distributed.

They crammed the bleachers, as if they were about to watch a sports spectacle. Sporadic laughter broke out as residents from villages far and wide chatted among themselves, munching on bananas handed to them by social workers.

“That’s just how they are. Sometimes, there will be crying. Then there will be people laughing. People are slowly getting over the shock,” PO3 Rogelio Cabuñas of New Bataan Police Station said.

Sorrow and hope

Many of the evacuees had not known each other until Pablo brought them together to share sorrow and hope.

Typhoon Pablo was the strongest to hit the country this year, killing nearly 500 people and leaving hundreds missing.

On the national highway leading to Monkayo, another badly hit town some 45 minutes away from New Bataan, children in disheveled clothes stood by the roadside, hands cupped in the universal pose of begging.

They looked almost cheerful, as they swarmed around motorists who stopped to give them money, food or water.

Nemencio Muyot, a member of the Makati Rescue and the Philippine K-9 Search and Rescue Foundation, said he was touched by the warm smiles of the otherwise suffering villagers.

The 10-member team was sent on Friday to help in the retrieval of corpses buried beneath the rubble in difficult-to-reach areas in the town that Pablo had turned into a wasteland.

Amazing warmth

“It’s amazing how warm the people are, considering the situation they are in. I guess that’s how Filipinos are,” Muyot said.

Juber Lugas, a volunteer rescuer who spent days plucking people from rooftops in submerged pockets of Tagum City in neighboring Davao del Norte, said he was impressed by how well the residents had coped in the difficult hours after the typhoon.

“You know Filipinos. They will tell you, ‘We’re still okay,’ even though, of course, they’re not,” Lugas said.

Lugas mentioned several instances when residents refused to be rescued out of concern for their pets and livestock.

“Some of them would only consent to being rescued if we took the animals with them,” Lugas said.

His 10-man team from the Tagum-based Condor Panacan Rescue ended up herding a small army of dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs and even cattle and carabao to Pagsabangan Bridge and leaving the animals in the care of their owners.

“That was memorable,” Lugas said.

‘Bayanihan’

Edmon Solitario, an ambulance driver for the Tagum City Council, said it became commonplace to see neighbors helping neighbors or villagers assisting strangers, as the rescue workers traveled around the city.

“There was bayanihan at work, definitely,” he said, using the word Filipinos use to describe community spirit.

Police officer Cabuñas cited several instances when the villagers opened their homes to neighbors in need of shelter as the typhoon raged on Tuesday.

That, he said, was why there were still people who survived in Barangay Andap, the most severely hit after Mayo River topped its banks, unleashing a torrent of mud, boulders, toppled trees and parts of destroyed houses into the villages below the mountain.

Rescuers from far and wide have arrived here to help the search and retrieval operations. They are from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which leads the operations, and from little known volunteer organizations from far-flung parts of the country.

Donations have also been pouring into the centralized help center at the municipal gym, from organizations like the United Nations, politicians and private citizens. Groups like the Digos Joggers Club and the Dog Owners of Tagum have chipped in to help the search and retrieval efforts.

Lots of help

This town and the municipalities around it need a lot of help.

Clean, drinkable water is the top requirement, residents here said. Food—rice, canned goods and noodles—though coming regularly, is not being distributed quickly enough. Medicines, clothes and blankets are also in short supply.

“It’s times like this when Filipinos really have to come together to help,” Lugas said.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Compostela Valley , evacuation center , New Bataan , Pablo , Typhoon Pablo , typhoon victims




Copyright © 2014, .
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
Advertisement
  1. US teacher fired over comment on black president
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. Filipinos, Dane re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  4. Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  5. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Massive infra spending set
  8. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  9. Easter crucifixions draw huge crowds
  10. Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Boko Haram leader claims Nigeria capital bombing
  • Russia promises support to ending Ukraine crisis
  • Busted valve delays water interruption
  • Cardinal Tagle decries human ‘commercialization’
  • Religion builds bridges in ethnically split Cyprus
  • Sports

  • Vettel hoping for resurgence at Chinese GP
  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • PH boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare
  • Canadians back PH plea to take back waste
  • We treasure our Sierra Madre
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement