Childless Tacloban man happy to save 4 children from ‘Yolanda’ surge
CEBU CITY, Philippines—At the height of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: “Haiyan”) last Friday, a childless 52-year-old musician braved a 15-foot -high storm surge in Tacloban City to save four children from drowning. In the process, he suffered a deep cut in his left foot.
The morning when Yolanda slammed into the eastern provinces of the Visayas with its 250-kilometer-per-hour winds and storm surges as high as a three-story house, Pablo Oronos was with his wife in their house praying.
Unfortunately, their house gave way to the ferocious winds and they needed to quickly escape the rising waters and get to their neighbor’s house, where four children were also trying to escape the rising storm surge.
“There were four of them—two girls and two boys. The water was already rising fast,” Oronos told INQUIRER.net Wednesday as he and his wife were waiting at the Mactan Airbase hoping to get a free ride on a C-130 plane to Manila.
“Nailigtas ko sila, nilagay ko sila sa [kisame] (I was able to save them by raising them up onto the ceiling),” Oronos said.
By then, the water had already risen to as high as 15 feet. Asked how fast the water had risen, he had trouble remembering whether it was 10 seconds or 10 minutes, probably due to the harrowing experience.
“Pagligtas ko ng bata, nilagay ko sa kisame, pero nalaglag, napunta sa ilalim [ng tubig]. Pinulot ko ulit pero nakainom na ng tubig (After I saved the child and placed him on the ceiling, he fell into the waters. I picked him up again but he already swallowed some water),” Oronos recalled.
It was while he was raising the child up again on the ceiling that his left foot was cut by what his wife believes was a broken coffee-table glass.
Due to the lack of still usable medical supplies in Tacloban medical facilities, his wound was not treated immediately until they got to the Tacloban airport where doctors said his deep wound was in danger of worsening because a vein might have been cut.
After he and his wife managed to get to Cebu via a C-130 aircraft from Tacloban, they managed to get his wound cleaned in a hospital and also got medicine.
Oronos admitted that he and his wife were now facing a new problem: lack of money.
“Ang problema namin wala kaming pera, dumating kami dito walang kapera-pera talaga. Bahala na lang pag [nasa Manila] na, (Our problem is we dont ave money, we arrived here with absolutely no money at all. We’ll just see what happens when we get to Manila)” he said. The couple intends to temporarily live with relatives in Manila.
As for the children back in Tacloban, he said they were already in good condition and with their parents.
“[Yung] mga magulang ng bata, nagtulong-tulong kami, nakaraos na rin eh (The parents of the children, we helped each other to finally overcome the disaster),” he said.
Asked how he felt, now that his livelihood in Tacloban is gone, he said matter-of-factly: “Walang problema ’yan, mabuhay lang kami, wala naman kaming anak, okay lang yun (That’s not a problem as long as we are alive. We don’t have a child, so it’s okay.)”
He admitted he has not yet been able to establish contact with his relatives, some of whom are working in Japan.
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