One of the areas that PBCI served was in Area 5, Barangay Consolacion, Isla de Oro, Cagayan de Oro City. In partnership with Kagay-an Evangelical Disaster Response Network (KEDRN) and the PAR Community Region 10, this area was specified as the recipient of PBCI Relief Operation. The people there shared their experiences during the typhoon, and the lessons that they learned after their horrible experience.
On early morning of December 17, 2011, typhoon Sendong sent raging waters that rose up to 1.5 meters high. Francisca Cantila, 44 years old, shares that there were waves that caused them to fear, and his husband immediately had to save their children. The waters are mixed with mud, debris, and garbage. Leticia dela Cruz, 42, shared that they had to swim/walk under the muddy waters just to get to a distant church where they could be safe. Joy Paculanan, 21 years old, remembers that it was very dark and they had to shout in order to know where the other family members were. They sought rescue, but there was no one to help.
At around 7:30 in the morning, they were happy that the waters subsided until only a few inches deep. In the afternoon, it was only then that they realized they no longer have food to eat, no clean water, and no more clothes and other basic material things.
The following day, they received their first relief goods (rice and canned goods) from the Vice President of the Philippines. On December 23, 2011, Peacebuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) distributed mats, malong, pots, and pans. They shared that it was really helpful because at that time, all their sleeping mats were washed away by the flood, and some that were left are full of mud.
The survivors shared how the typhoon affected them. There were people injured, they had no more clothes to wear, their appliances were broken, tricycles and other vehicles used for livelihood were also destroyed, and their old, shabby houses became totally destroyed. Most of them only stay at home now, their source of income were damaged, and so they also have no means to buy materials to rebuild or repair their houses.
Most of them caught cough, colds, fever, diarrhea, and some also had Leptospirosis. They get free check-up in private hospitals, but they still have to pay for their medicines. On public hospitals, however, they get free check-up and a little amount of medicine, but they have to wait for long lines. They are thankful that PBCI also conducted Medical Operations in their area.
Spiritually, they still did not lose faith in God, and the experience actually taught them to just put their trust and faith in God, strengthened by constant prayers. Emotionally, they felt bad about what happened to them, but they expressed their angst against the Barangay officials who, for them, have not done anything to respond or help them. They expressed that if there are still people who would want to give, they wanted to have rubber boots because they cannot move very well in their area which was covered in deep mud since after the typhoon.
For this experience, they learned that it is really important to not panic and be calm when experiencing crisis. Being ready anytime would also help them to not be shocked by whatever comes.
They also realized that they should stop throwing garbage everywhere, because it also comes back to them. They should also be thankful and recognize the help offered by others. Most importantly, praying to God constantly is the best way to deal with crisis.
They also recommended that the government should be ready all the time, so that less people will be affected. There should be relocation sites for the residents who live in dangerous areas.
After the crisis and the trauma brought by it, the people in Area 5 can still look back to their experience with smiles and laughter. For them, it was just a test of faith. For others, it is a lesson to protect the environment. To some, it proves their distrust to the government. However they responded, PBCI is committed to be with these people, to help them recover what they have lost, restore their relationship with God, with each other, and with the environment, and to have a full understanding of Peace and Reconciliation.
Thanks for posting this story and especially the video of survivors’ stories and comments. You are doing great work, especially in the midst of a difficult situation. Blessings.