Saturday, February 14, 2009

Journey to Canaan

Canaan is a sub-sitio of Upper Tigason, Brgy of Dominorog, municipality of Talakag in the Province of Bukidnon. It has vast fertile agricultural lands with multi-linguistic inhabitants coming from different places of Visayas and Mindanao. There are about 500 villagers mostly of Christian beliefs and few are of Higaonon Tribe. Education of children depends only in a primary school of two teachers situated in the heart of the village.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Life in Tragedy
: Guinsaugon Mudslide

Early at 6AM of February 17, 2006, from my town of Hinunangan, in a quiet province of Southern Leyte, I went to the port of St. Bernard to fetch my shipments from Cebu. Since the ship was still on its way, I decided to eat my breakfast in the nearby town of San Juan until 9AM. While walking along the street going to the port, I heard like a bomb with simultaneous earthquake.

I saw people rushing to different directions and I ask some of them whats happening. They said, there was a flash-flood happen in the upper part of the town especially along the river of barangay Catmon and Tambis. Some of them says that Guinsaugon was wrapped by mud. I saw these three men in a motorcycle. Two of them are bare footed with mud in their pants. They said, the whole of barangay Guinsaugon was covered by mud from its nearby mountain.

It was around 10:45AM , the whole barangay of Guinsaugon, St. Bernard, Southern Leyte was erased in the map after a quick and frightening landslide. It was the biggest and deadliest mudslide in Philippine history. Thousands of lives buried instantly when a huge bulk of mud and rocks from a steep mountain of about 800 meters above sea level.

I ask my friends in the town to call their relatives resided in Guinsaugon but all of them are out of coverage. I scrolled my phonebook for contact numbers of radio stations in Cebu, only ABS-CBNs DYAB has it and called them immediately. At first they didn't rely on my report because they want to confirm it first to the NDCC-Cebu and in Tacloban. Later, crew from DYAB called me for updates and description of the area. After our conversation at about 11:30 I rushed to the area near the river, about half a kilometer away from where the edge of the muds situated. I saw only few of the residents in nearby barangay Tambis watching near the river.

From that time until DYAB reporter Rico Lucena arrived with a company chopper, I gave updates and situationaires in the area to their radio station. I was not be able to eat my lunch since I haven't feel hungry until 5PM.

This boy was rushed to nearby hospital for immediate treatment.

No other means of transporting survivors except this way.

Heavy equipments from highway contractor China Road arrived to help transverse the deep strong current river.

A survivor hardly open her muddy eyes.

He is exhausted and need more treatment.

Rescuers from Maasin City fetch by choppers coming from Mactan Air Force Base.

The person who brought this girl was sad after she died while on their way to the base area for immediate treatment.

A day after the retrieval operation, most of the bodies were started to decompose.

A photographer blown by a Chinook helicopter of US Rescuers.

At 6PM, I took a trip from Lilo-an to Lipata, Surigao and to Iligan City. While on our way to Liloan, I saw Rep. Oging Mercado with his escorts near the entrance of a certain school (i think that was in Hindag-an) and leaved a GSM Cellphone from a volunteer of San Juan Polytechnic College. I arrived in Lipata, Surigao at around 11:00 in the evening. I decided to sleep in a hotel in downtown Surigao before I proceed to Iligan in the morning of February 18. At about 3:00AM, I was dreaming of a crowd calling me, awaken and urged me to go back to Guinsaugon to help more lives. I checked out immediately in the hotel immediately and took a trip back to Lilo-an at 4:00AM.

As voluteer with friend Arnold.

With Adrian Ayalin of abs-cbnnews, Manila

With Rico Lucena of DYAB, abs-cbnnews, Cebu.