DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – The tenants are moving out, leaving behind the typhoon-devastated coconut plantations and their landlords.
Wilma Sinangute, along with her four children, are now in an evacuation center in Mati City, some 110 kilometers away from their home in the village of Kinablangan in Baganga town. So are Evangeline Dayosa and her four children, who also had to travel from her village in Lambajon, also in Baganga.
Dayosa and Sinangute seemed not likely to return to their hometown. The reason: They are tenants or caretakers of coconut plantations that have been ravaged by Typhoon ‘Pablo’.
Replanting of coconut trees would mean at least eight years of waiting before harvest time — something that people like Dayosa and Sinangute cannot do.
Vice Governor Jose Mayo Almario considered the exodus of people from either Cateel or Baganga “a natural tendency.”
“There’s a strong possibility for tenants to leave typhoon-hit areas in Davao Oriental to seek work elsewhere since it will take years to rehabilitate these areas,” he said.
Leofe Aradillos of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), said, indeed, most of the evacuees at the Matiao National High School in Mati City were “tenants.”
“If they stay there (Baganga), they won’t have any means of living,” Aradillos said.
“They were tilling lands that were not theirs,” she added.
Even before the Matiao school started accommodating evacuees, people have been moving out of Baganga and Cateel towns – some by land, while some boarded the Navy ship as it returned to Mati City after delivering relief goods.
The PSWDO has also recorded at least 119 people from Baganga and Cateel who have been staying with relatives and friends here.
The PSWDO even “transported” 35 people who wanted to go to Davao City.
The PSWDO records show that in Baganga alone, a total of 19,833 families have been affected by typhoon Pablo and need to be fed.
Although some residents have started to rebuild their homes – even meat, fish and vegetable vendors have returned to the public market at the town center – residents could not say for how long their savings can last.
Sinangute expressed hope government would provide her a new home, this time in Mati City, as she was planning to find work for her children.
“She’s already 16, she can work and go to school at the same time,” Sinangute said of her daughter.