On New Year’s Eve, the residents of Sitio Camp Franco in Barangay Lower Becerril, Boljoon town will no longer hear the loud bang of a metal ladle against a cauldron.
Their gong-ringer Nenita Palador, who is known in the community as “Nang Nita” no longer lives in the sitio after her house was damaged by a massive landslide last October which displaced more than a hundred people.
“Kada bag-ong tuig mudakol na si Nang Nita sa iyang kaldero. Hala! Hasta laging sabaa. Mag-una na siya ug dakol unya kung malabwan gani sa motor ug speakers, dili gyud siya palupig (Every New Year, Nang Nita will bang her cauldron. It creates a very loud sound. She’ll bang her cauldron before anyone, and if she will be overpowered by the noise coming from motorcycles and speakers, she will bang even harder. She never wanted to be defeated),” said Sitio Camp Franco resident Ailyn Sestoso.
Ailyn, 35, and her neighbors always looked forward to the noise that Nang Nita’s cauldron would create to greet the New Year as it would be even louder than the sound of a passing motorcycle, a firecracker explosion or a speaker played on full blast.
They are sad that they will have to do away with that tradition this year.
Nang Nita left Lower Becerril after geologists from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bureau of Mines declared the place as a “No Habitation Zone.”
But Ailyn’s family, along with seven others, decided to stay in the area close to where their homes used to stand.
At first, they all crammed into a chapel for days until the Sestosos’ decided to move into a rented nipa hut by the roadside close to where the tip of the landslide had settled. Their two-storey wooden house remains buried in mud, nearby.
Uncertain New Year
On Christmas Eve, Ailyn’s husband, Bernardo, and their two children Ellen, 10, and Raymond, 5, joined neighbors at the Sto. Niño Chapel for a small celebration.
They played games, had karaoke, and shared meals and gifts from private individuals who were visiting relatives in their sitio.
“Na alegre ra sad ang among pasko tungod sa among mga bisita (Christmas became joyful for us because of our guests),” she said.
But she is uncertain if their New Year’s Eve celebration will be as merry.
“Ingon aning panahon, nangompra na guro mi para handa. Karon, dili gyud mawala sa among huna-huna asa gyud mi makabalay (Around this time, we would probably be buying groceries for a feast. Now, we can’t help but think where we could possibly have our new home),” she told Cebu Daily News.
But she continues to hope that they will be able to celebrate the coming of a new year with a festive mood.
Lolita Figarido, 31, said she is scared to face the New Year, uncertain of what lies ahead for her and her family.
She feels uncomfortable about celebrating New Year in an “unfamiliar” village, Upper Becerril, where her family moved into the house of her in-laws after the landslide.
“It breaks my heart,” she told CDN in Cebuano while hoping that government’s promise of new housing units for Sitio Camp Franco residents would soon come true.
“Pero wala mi mahimo. Dugay-dugay pa man nang relocation site o housing unit nga ilang gisaad sa amoa. Mao nang mangita sa mi ug lain kapuy-an (But there is not much that we can do for now. It will take time before we will be able to move into the relocation site or new housing units promised to us,” she added.
The series of landslides which began last October 27 affected 35-hectares of land in Sitio Camp Franco, Barangay Becerril.
Data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Visayas (DSWD-7) showed that 28 homes were damaged and 45 families or 189 individuals were displaced.
More than two months since disaster hit their homes, the residents have now become impatient with the local government’s promise to provide a relocation site.
Landslide victims appeal to the municipal government and concerned agencies to hasten the processing of requirements so that they could already move into their new homes.
Three parcels of land owned by former Mayor Deogenesis “Wargong” Derama, the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Archdiocese of Cebu, have been identified as relocation site for the displaced families from Lower Becerril.
According to the Boljoon Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), the three properties would be enough to accommodate the landslide victims.
The lots were also declared safe for occupancy by environment officials.
However, Mayor Merlou Derama, Wargong’s nephew, said that the conversion of property lots into government relocation sites will take time.
“There are a lot of legal steps that we have to do before we can actually set up anything on the relocation sites. Our legal office is already into the matter but hopefully it will be done in less than a year,” said Mayor Derama.
Derama said they are also in talks with a private firm who will assist them in the construction of housing units.
Affected families will also be consulted to determine the utilities to be installed on the relocation site, the mayor added.
Another concern is the need to convince families who refuse to be relocated to move into the proposed housing sites.
“There are some who already expressed hesitation on leaving their houses at Camp Franco for good, because the relocation site is nearer to Barangay Poblacion, which is far from where they make a living at the mountains. We understand that,” Derama said.
But for Sestoso and Figarido, they await their transfer into their new homes come New Year for the safety of their families.
“Mu-avail nalang mi kasa magpuyoay mi sa balay nga dili amoa. Bahala’g magbayad mi basta dili lang kaayo mahal, (We will avail of the relocation rather than live in a house that isn’t ours. It doesn’t matter if we have to pay for the house as long as the cost is affordable.),” said Sestoso.
“Hadlok nasad dinhi mupuyo (I am scared to live here),” she added referring to the rented hut her family now lives in, just a stone’s throw away from “No Habitation Zone”.