Classes in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where Maguindanao belongs, begin Sundays and end Thursdays. Fridays and Saturdays are rest days.
Aside from Pagagawan and Pagalungan, other flooded towns include Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, Northern Kabuntalan, Sultan sa Barongis, Datu Piang, Talayan, Talitay and Kabuntalan Mother, all in Maguindanao.
These towns are situated around the 220,000-hectare Liguasan marshland, which serves as a catch basin of floodwaters from Bukidnon, North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
Education officials said the affected towns, which surround Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak, are often flooded during heavy rains.
Eliza Karim, who has a child in second year high school at the Pagalungan National High School in Barangay Poblacion, said classes in their area are regularly interrupted by floods.
Social welfare officials are still validating the number of affected families after floodwaters reached “waist deep” in Pagagawan and Pagalungan last Friday. But initial reports said that in Maguindanao alone, close to 50,000 persons have fled to safer ground when the water rose to an alarming level.
Many of the affected families have put up makeshift houses along portions of the Cotabato-Davao highway for fear that even typical rains could trigger another flood.
Local government officials through the social welfare office have started extending emergency assistance like rice, noodles and sardines to the evacuees.