Glenda’s stories of heroism, tragedy
Jomarck Diaz had been unusually generous the past two days, sharing breakfast with fellow fire volunteers in Barangay (village) Palatiw in Pasig City and as much as P400 of his allowance with his older brother, Jhon.
“I did not have the slightest idea that he was going to go soon,” said Jhon, 29, who is also a teammate.
Diaz, 19, who was fondly called “Omike,” was trying to bring down the Philippine flag from a pole in front of the barangay hall as Typhoon “Glenda” howled Wednesday morning when a wall collapsed on him. He died at Pasig City General Hospital.
Another volunteer, Vincent Estudillo, 32, suffered injuries.
Authorities Wednesday reported two typhoon fatalities, including Diaz, in Metro Manila.
“My brother was extra generous and kind two days before and on the day of his death,” Jhon said, teary-eyed as he narrated what happened to Jomarck, who became a fire and rescue volunteer only last year.
“He doesn’t usually share much of his allowance, but on Monday, he gave me as much as P400 when he received his allowance earlier than expected,” said Jhon, the eldest in a brood of six. Jomarck joined the team for breakfast Wednesday, his brother added.
At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the winds were getting strong and Jomarck was worried that the flag would be ripped apart so he tried taking it down, Jhon said. But when Jhon turned his back, the concrete wall of the barangay hall collapsed, killing his brother and crashing on four parked motorcycles.
“When a new volunteer screamed that someone was under the debris, my knees buckled and I felt like wilting upon seeing my brother,” Jhon said.
Jomarck’s body was brought to Funeraria Quiogue in Pasig.
Glenda also brought unfortunate stories to other people in the metropolis.
Jerry Baylon felt that life would be better for him and his five children in Manila when he left Tacloban City in Leyte province last year after Super Typhoon “Yolanda” destroyed their house. His luck did not hold when Glenda swept the capital on Wednesday.
“A typhoon had already demolished our house in Tacloban. It’s difficult to face a similar situation. I don’t know how we can move on,” the 37-year-old man said as tears welled in his eyes.
Currently without a regular job, Baylon sells metal scraps to earn money. He left Tacloban with his 68-year-old mother, Nimfa, in December last year, hoping that being with his siblings in a slum community in Port Area, Manila, would help him overcome the trauma brought about by Yolanda.
But Glenda’s 150-kilometer-per-hour winds tore down the shanty he had built for his family beside those of his siblings inside the Baseco compound where they sought shelter along with 6,000 others.
Like Baylon, his 30-year-old sister Janice is homeless again after Glenda destroyed their shanty. Her first home was among those razed in a fire that hit Baseco in 2001.
Janice, though, doesn’t feel as bad as her brother. “While these things happened to us, I am still thankful because I saved Señor,” she said, referring to the image of the Child Jesus she saved when the typhoon ripped open her house.
Her top priority was to save the image, she said, describing herself as “pro-God.” She recalled that when her home burned down in 2001, she and her family survived although they lost all their belongings.
Unlike Janice, Hatidja Laribal, 53, wasn’t able to bring anything with her to the evacuation center when the winds tore her home apart.
“I panicked and my grandchildren were in deep sleep then,” Laribal said. She carried two of her six grandchildren to the temporary shelter.
Local councilwoman Edith Castillo promised help to those who were left homeless. “We’re expecting nongovernment organizations to provide us with materials,” she said.
Work as usual
Elsewhere in the city, the mood was not as downcast.
Vendors, barkers and workers in Quiapo braved howling winds and strong rains just to earn their day’s keep early in the morning.
Commuting all the way from Fairview, Quezon City, Vic Ramirez was already at his post at 4:30 a.m., holding a trusty umbrella and calling out to passengers for jeepney drivers or helping others park their cars. He has been on this job for 43 years.
“I really have to work, even if it was already raining hard,” Ramirez told the Inquirer. “If I don’t get out, my wife and my two children won’t have anything to eat.”
He said that he usually earned P250 a day. “Now I just have P80,” he said.
While Ramirez and his kind risk life and limb to eke out a living, others chose to place safety above all.
Leo Morales, 28, a foreman who supervises a new metal footbridge project of City Hall near Quiapo Church, said he and his 12 welders did not work on their 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.
“As the rains and winds picked up last night, we decided to just stop working and wait for the weather to improve. We made sure what we were working on were already secured so that the wind would not dismantle it,” Morales said.
“Our bosses told us to prioritize our safety above anything else. Water and electricity don’t mix, so we stopped welding and secured any loose parts we were working on,” he said.
The workers waited out the storm inside their shack of iron roofing sheets, scaffolding, tarpaulin and canvas. They have more serious things to worry about.
“Just last week, some people stole some of the metal parts of the footbridge we are working on,” Morales said. “After that incident, we always send one of the men to guard the parts overnight. Thankfully, during the storm, no one dared to steal the parts.” With a report from Nathaniel R. Melican
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