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Guinsaugon 4 years after tragedy: Life slowly moving


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:33:00 02/17/2010

Filed Under: Landslide

MAASIN CITY?THERE IS barely anything left to remind anyone that where now grow bushes and trees, there used to be a village called Guinsaugon in the town of St. Bernard, Southern Leyte.

So little and so much have changed four years since an entire side of Mt. Kan-abag collapsed following a night of rains, turning a thriving agricultural community into a burial ground of mud and boulders.

At least 1,000 villagers were dead on Feb. 17, 2006 and many more were presumed to be dead under the debris. Many bodies were no longer found.

The scars of the tragedy are no longer recognizable. Bushes and trees have grown where streets, homes and people used to be. Foliage has covered the crack in Mt. Kan-abag that used to illustrate how much mud and boulders fell on Guinsaugon.

Officials have declared the area no-man?s land, but jutting out of the indescribable patch of earth that the village has become are roofs, said to be of houses that farmers built in the hope that, while death has descended on their community, their rice fields may have been spared.

In the middle of the place also now stands a chapel, which serves as another reminder of how a tragedy like the one that Nature unleashed on Guinsaugon only Nature could stop.

It seemed Nature also removed two crosses that were erected along the meandering Lawigan river as symbols of the incalculable grief of the survivors.

One cross was put there shortly after the tragedy but it was swept away by floodwaters that made the river overflow. A second cross was erected in place of the first, but it, too, was swept away by knee-deep floodwaters just last January.

Signs of a people wanting to move on have appeared. A footbridge was built by the provincial government so people could cross the Lawigan river to reach their farms. Jani Arnaiz, Inquirer Visayas



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