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Bohol ma: I feel my kids are still alive

SAGBAYAN, Bohol—Mother’s intuition is telling Genara Somoro that her two children are still alive even if they are believed buried under 3 meters of rock, mud and branches of trees.

Somoro, 43, sat in a corner watching rescuers digging with a backhoe the mound of debris from a landslide caused by last Tuesday’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake that brought down part of Bayong Falls in Katipunan village here.

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Her children, Jonalyn, 13, and Joellene Somoro, 11, their cousins, Jess Marvin, 10, and Meme Jane Empinado, 8, and their uncle Reynald Sipsip, 14, were swimming in the river below the falls when the earthquake struck that morning.

The children were never seen again.

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But Somoro is not giving up hope that her kids are alive.

“I am a mother. I feel that my children are still alive,” she told the Inquirer.

In the nearby town of Clarin, another mother was asking her son for a sign that would help rescuers find his body.

Proper burial

Estela Tagsip said she had accepted that her youngest son, Roger, did not survive when boulders and trees fell on him and his two cousins during the earthquake.

The children were fetching water from the Kawasan River in Villaflor village when the quake struck.

Tagsip said she wanted her son’s body to be found so she could give him a proper burial.

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“Dong, give us a sign to let us know where you are,” she sobbed.

Workers kept digging on Monday at Katipunan and Villaflor, but had yet to find the missing children.

Lack of equipment made the search slow and painful.

Capt. Lolito Destajo, commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 6th Special Forces Company handling the retrieval in Villaflor, said his men were using shovels and crowbars to dig through the mud and turn up boulders in the part of the river where the children were believed to be when the earthquake struck.

Three more bodies were recovered in Bohol province on Sunday, bringing the death toll from the earthquake that hit Central Visayas to 188, officials said on Monday.

No second quake

Also on Monday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) debunked rumors that spread over the weekend that another major temblor was going to shake the provinces of Bohol and Cebu anew.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum appealed to the public, especially netizens, to be more circumspect in passing information they see on social media and in text messages.

“There’s a very, very small chance of another earthquake as strong as 7.2 magnitude happening in Bohol and Cebu,” Solidum said in a press conference at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Solidum explained that the north offshore fault in Bohol, which most likely generated last Tuesday’s earthquake, would have to “save up enough energy for hundreds of years before it could move the northern side of Bohol and Cebu again.”

Moreover, no one can really predict when and where an earthquake would happen, much less how strong it would be.

“So to our countrymen, the netizens, don’t believe what’s written on Facebook and SMS unless you hear the civil defense, Phivolcs, local officials, talk about an earthquake. Let’s not add to the confusion, if there’s still confusion, by spreading hoax text messages. This does not help anyone,” Solidum said.

Sixteen Phivolcs scientists and information specialists have been going around Bohol to study the fault plane that was likely the source of the Oct. 15 earthquake on the northern side of the province, as well as educate local officials and residents in the aftermath of the temblor.

Aftershocks

The Phivolcs recorded 2,255 aftershocks, but only some 50 to 100 of them were felt.

As of Monday, the NDRRMC and the Bohol police said there were 188 reported fatalities.

The recovery of the three bodies in Sevilla town on Sunday brought to 175 the estimated number of dead in Bohol. The dead were identified as Agripina Mira, Cristino Digawam and Paterno Mutia.

With the recovery, there were four dead reported in Sevilla; 56 in Loon; Clarin, five; Getafe, two; Buenavista, two; Calape, five; Tubigon, seven; Balilihan, five; Inabanga, four; Batuan, one; Sagbayan, 15; Baclayon, one; Tagbilaran City, four; Loay, two; Alburquerque, two; Maribojoc, 15; Bilar, six; Cortes, six; Catigbian, five; Antequera, 13; San Isidro, 10; Talibon, one; Trinidad, one; Danao, two, and Sierra Bullones, one.

Earlier, the NDRRMC reported that 12 people were killed in Cebu province and one in Siquijor province.

11 still missing

Eleven people were still missing in Bohol, including the children of Somoro and Tagsip.

Police Senior Supt. R’win Pagkalinawan said the aftershocks hampered the search for the children.

Nearly 600 people were reported injured: 489 in Bohol; three in Siquijor; one in Negros Oriental, and one in Iloilo.

Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto said the retrieval operations continued despite the pullout of some rescue groups.

Chatto said two teams from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) returned to Manila on Sunday night.

But one team from the MMDA stayed to plan a disaster training and preparedness program for Bohol, he said.

A team from Makati City and another from Dumaguete City also went home on Sunday, he said.

Despite the departures, Chatto said, many volunteers continue searching for bodies in Loon and Sagbayan towns.

Somoro said her children did not ask for permission to take a bath in the river below the waterfalls on Oct. 15.

She said she would not have allowed them to go because they would have to walk 3 kilometers downhill to get to the falls.

The children were threshing paddy rice harvested from the family’s small farm when she and her husband, Joel, told them to tend to their vegetable garden instead.

Bye, Ma

“Goodbye, Ma. Goodbye, Pa,” Joellene said to her parents before going.

Somoro said she was puzzled.

She said she told her husband, “What’s with Joy? She kept saying goodbye.”

Then the earth shook.

When the children did not return home, Somoro said she started to worry.

It was only later, she said, that she learned that her children joined their cousins and uncle in going to the river to take a bath.

When she and her husband went to the river, they found the part of it under the cataracts covered by boulders, mud and tree branches that had been brought down by a landslide.

They called out to the children.

There was no answer.

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TAGS: Bohol, Earthquake, missing children, Philippines - Regions
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