A day of horror & unspeakable pain
Beneath the soil and debris, 16-year-old Jonalyn Siton pounded non-stop on a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tank as she heard her father’s voice along with others outside the rubble.
Help had finally come, she thought to herself as her mother and two younger sisters lay hugging beside her.
Desperate to have the rescuers notice her, Jonalyn knocked heavily on the gas tank using all the strength she could muster.
Some 15 hours before this, their home in Sitio Sindulan, Barangay Tinaan, Naga City was buried in a massive landslide just as Jonalyn and her sisters were getting ready to go to school.
“Right before the landslide, it seemed like there was an earthquake. I thought there was a helicopter above us. But when I went out of the house, I saw water and soil cascading towards our house,” Jonalyn said in Cebuano.
After seeing the soil from a nearby mountain begin to cover the house of their neighbors, she immediately rushed back to the house to get her 4-year-old sister, Althea, who was asleep.
Her mother, Jocelyn, was in their comfort room when part of the mountain started to fall on the houses beneath.
Another sister, 14-year-old Crystal Jane, a grade 9 student, also rushed to her side.
“I got my younger sister who was four years old and I ran to the kitchen. My mom came out of the CR. We all hugged each other with another younger sister and hid under the water closet,” she said.
Hand in hand and hugging each other, the Sitons started to rush out of their house — but not before a wall collapsed on all of them, pinning down her mother and two sisters.
Jonalyn said she saw Crystal Jane holding their mother’s feet while 4-year-old Althea lay beside them.
Both were dead.
Painfully, their mother asked her to pray.
“My mother was on top of me. She told me not to panic and to just pray that we will be safe,” said Jonalyn, a grade 11 student and the eldest of the siblings.
Gasping for air
As they lay under the rubble for hours, their surroundings were all covered with soil from the landslide and she could barely breath.
At around 9 p.m. on Thursday, the rescuers found them.
Her mother was rushed to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City while Jonalyn was brought to an infirmary in Naga City.
On Friday, her mother passed away.
Another sibling, 7-year-old Nina Rose, who slept at the house of an aunt nearby, remained missing.
Despite the tragic incident, Jonalyn still found reason to be grateful.
She said that she was thankful that her father and another younger sister, Laiza, 12, were still alive.
When the landslide occurred, her father was on his way to open their vegetable and fruit stall at the Naga Public Market while Laiza was in a store buying butane canisters.
Jonalyn recalled that before the incident, her parents already complained about the quarry operation of Apo Cement Corp.
“The soil was soft and at the foot of the mountain, we could hear the dumptruck from above. Quarrying went on all the time, almost every night. We could hardly sleep because of the noise from the backhoe and dumptruck,” revealed Jonalyn.
Three days after the tragedy, Jonalyn’s father has gone back to tending their market stall, while Laiza attends to the wake of their mother and two siblings which is held at a badminton court in Barangay Poblacion.
Life has to go on.
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