Rebuilding lives hard for ‘Pablo’ victimsBy Nico Alconaba
MATI CITY, Davao Oriental—Wilma Sinangute and her four children had to travel at least 110 kilometers to reach this city from their wrecked home in Barangay (village) Kinablangan in Baganga town, where Typhoon “Pablo” made landfall on Dec. 4.
“There is nothing left there,” said the51-year-old widow at Matiao National High School, which has been turned into an evacuation center for 270 uprooted people.
Sinangute and her children passed by Caraga, Manay and Tarragona—towns destroyed by the typhoon in its deadly sweep across Mindanao.
Victims of disasters and armed conflicts normally moved to the next safer town but at the school, many came from distant communities.
Evangeline Dayosa, along with her four children, also had to travel 110 km from her village in Lambajon, also in Baganga.
“We can’t rebuild our home there,” she told the Inquirer, indicating there could be no return to Lambajon.
The government relief effort continues to receive donations.
US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. cited the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States for enabling US soldiers to assist in the search and rescue operation.
“This year, we shared a challenging typhoon season. We look back to the city of Manila for what you did for our embassy staff as the water rose and the support you offered,” Thomas told the Philippine Daily Inquirer during the annual Christmas lantern lighting at the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard.
He said the United States, at the request of the Philippines, was able to extend help in Mindanao “because of our 61-year-old defense treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows us to bring our military to assist the Philippines.”
“We’ve already given P400 million and relief goods and assistance. We’re conducting retrieval operation for the missing fishermen; our helicopters and planes are looking for them,” he said.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines announced on the weekend it was donating $100,000 or P4.1 million to the relief effort.
Recently, the Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps visited the Philippines for the tenth time for a nine-day medical mission in storm-affected regions, including Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City.
The 22 medical volunteers conducted free medical treatment, facilitated eye and dental checkups, and distributed free medicines. They also donated 60 tons of rice to the city government of Cavite.
Since 2008, Taiwan has donated to Philippine relief efforts more than $800,000 in cash and in kind, turned over 7,300 tons of rice to city governments and sent medical missions.
Also on Sunday, the Philippine National Police turned over P7.4 million in cash and relief goods to the typhoon victims.
Outgoing PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome handed the donation to displaced residents, among them families of 109 police personnel in Compostela Valley.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro announced on the weekend that classes in typhoon-devastated areas would resume next month.
“The earlier we resume classes, the better it is to rebuild their lives,” he explained.
The Department of Education reported that 95 percent of public schools in Compostela Valley were destroyed.
It said at least 877 classrooms were “washed out,” half of which were in Baganga, Davao Oriental, while 355 other classrooms were damaged.
“We’ve sent ‘tent classrooms’ because before the Christmas break, we want to begin classes, even if there’s no physical school,” Luistro said. With reports from Frinston Lim and Charlie C. Señase, Inquirer Mindanao; and Marlon Ramos, Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Erika Sauler, Jaymee T. Gamil and Nancy Carvajal in Manila