Ursula forced stranded passengers to have noche buena at Surigao port
SURIGAO CITY – Norberto Otordos, 53, together with his wife Marylou, 52, and a 10-year-old grandchild left Davao del Sur to seek refuge in Dinagat Island after their house was destroyed by the magnitude 6.9 earthquake on December 15.
As vessels were barred by the Coast Guard from sailing the seas since Dec. 23, Otordos was among the 134 persons who celebrated their Christmas inside the passenger terminal of the Surigao City Port.
Surigao City is the gateway to Dinagat and Siargao island groups, as well as to and from Leyte.
“It is sad to think that we left our home in barangay Manga, Matanao, Davao del Sur in the evening of December 22, in the hope that we could arrive in Dinagat and celebrate Christmas in our new home,” said Otordos.
“Living in Matanao after the earthquake was hard; at our age, we could barely get a decent sleep because of the aftershocks. We were already sleeping in a tent outside our house, and with the rains, we decided that it’s time to leave and move to a small hut in San Jose, Dinagat,” added Otordos.
Otordos’ wife Marylou said it was their first time, in 31 years, to celebrate the holiday away from their children who now have their respective families.
Hugo Silva and Joana Guerreiro, are foreigners from Portugal who were also stranded in Surigao City and stayed on the passenger terminal since December 23.
“We stayed here in the hopes that they would be able to get a boat to Siargao as soon as the boats are permitted to leave the port. This is our first time to visit Siargao, unfortunately, we did not expect the situation could get this bad,” said Silva, adding that they were hoping to still get a ride out of Surigao City on the 23rd, right before the weather got really bad.
Siargao is a popular destination for tourists during the holidays.
Joshua Noguerra together with his wife and two children left Giuian, Eastern Samar on December 22, to celebrate their Christmas in Siargao, but ends up celebrating Christmas at the port terminal.
“It’s hard for my two-year-old and one-year-old children; we slept here in the terminal and celebrated our Christmas here. It’s not the kind of Christmas we hoped for; thankfully the port authorities provided us food,” said Noguerra.
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) management offered food and even gave out Christmas gifts to children who took shelter inside the passenger terminal.
Surigao City Social Welfare and the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office officials distributed food packs to passengers during the duration of their stay at the passenger port terminal.
As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, Coast Guard Commander Lawrence Roque said the vessels were already allowed to sail.
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