TACLOBAN CITY—“As soon as the light of this lamp goes off, we are leaving,” 27-year-old Irene Icao said as she pointed to the source of the faint light placed atop a chair that also became an instant altar inside the evacuation center where she and her husband fled to.
Icao said she and her husband would be moving to Ormoc City because they wanted to leave the pain caused by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in their lives.
The Icaos lost their five children to the flood that hit the city.
“We were not able to save them. The surging water was so strong that we went swirling along with the current until I lost sight of them,” she said as she tried to hold back her emotions.
Icao said her husband’s efforts to save the children did not succeed as well.
“It was as if my heart was being torn apart when I heard them begging for help, but what can I do?” she said, adding that she even lost grip of 1-year-old Sherly.
Her four other children were Russel, 8, Joji, 6, Kent, 5, and Mayjoy, 2.
On Thursday morning, the decomposing body of one of the children was retrieved near the house of a relative but Icao said she was not even sure who it was.
She simply had no strength to find out whose body it was.
“They were unruly sometimes but I love them all,” Icao said.
As of Saturday, the death toll in this city alone rose to over 2,000 and 194 others have so far been reported missing by their surviving family and friends.
The toll was so huge that people like 70-year-old Inquirer vendor Rodolfo Susaya were left with uncertainty on how to go on with their lives.
Like Icao, Susaya lost two of his loved ones—his wife and daughter— in the devastation.
“How am I supposed to live now? I am sickly and it’s impossible for me to work,” Susaya said.
Outside the church that has been serving as an evacuation center here, people, with their belongings in tow, started trekking for the airport as they hoped to take the free C-130 ride out of the city, to either Ormoc or Manila. Dennis Jay Santos, Inquirer Mindanao