BAGANGA, Davao Oriental—Maria Rodriguez, 65, walks around what was once her community in Ban-ao here. After finding what she was looking for, she picks them up, then walks to her new home—a tent.
Around her dome-like home are plants in recycled tin cans and canisters. There, she placed her recovered items—plastic flowers.
“I can’t wait for the plants to have flowers,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Rodriguez is one of the 100 families occupying the tent community of non-government organization Balay Mindanaw here. Her shoreline house, just a few meters across from the tent community, was washed away by the sea surge when typhoon Pablo hit this town and several other municipalities on Dec. 4.
A total of 17 residents of Barangay (village) Ban-ao were killed by the typhoon.
“My family and at least 50 neighbors were saved when we took shelter in the concrete house of my daughter,” she said.
All that’s left of her daughter’s house were the walls.
Now, Rodriguez, her husband and four other relatives stay in a tent provided by the Rotary’s Disaster Aid International.
Among her new neighbors are Leila Abrahan, her husband, Antero, and their three children—who live in one of the tents.
When the Inquirer visited their tent, Leila was scolding her 2-year-old daughter who entered their new home with her slippers on.
“I told you to always leave your slippers outside when entering the tent,” she told the child.
“She (daughter) has to treat it (tent) like a home,” she told the Inquirer.
There is a sense of normalcy in this tent community—residents doing what they used to do before typhoon Pablo, except cooking near the tents.
“We also cannot use gas lamps or candles,” Leila said.
“We have solar,” she added, pointing to the solar lantern and panel provided for her tent.
“We’re so grateful that Balay Mindanao, Rotary International, the Red Cross and a lot of NGOs are helping us,” she said.
Like Rodriguez, most occupants also have plants, including vegetables like alogbati and kangkong, around their tents.
On Saturday, Balay Mindanaw distributed GI sheets and nails to the residents, to enable them to start rebuilding their homes—this time, away from danger zones.
Balay Mindanaw said it was still finding ways to rent chainsaws that would be used in turning coconut trees into lumber.
The group also said it would need at least three hectares of land to create a new community for those affected by the typhoon.
Rodriguez said she was excited with the idea of building a new house.
“I will have a bigger garden there, with real flowers,” she said.