Naga City landslide survivors welcome 2019 with high hopes
CEBU CITY – The September 20 landslide in Sitio Sindulan, Barangay Tinaan in Naga City that claimed 78 lives was perhaps the biggest challenge faced by Jimmy and Shirley Tapao in their 40 years of marriage.
Shirley lost his brother, Larry Campanilla, along with 16 other family members, who died in the catastrophe.
Having a history of cardiovascular ailments, her grief landed her at the hospital for 10 days.
When she came out of the hospital and the first assessment of the geologists from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Central Office had been released, the Tapao couple found out that they could no longer go back to the house they strived to build for years.
Their house now bore the label ‘#94.’
The one-storey, concrete house of about 40-square-meter space was among the 444 structures that were identified to be within the 174-hectare danger zone in the periphery of the landslide area, which had remained a no-habitation zone until the present because of the continued threat of the danger of landslides in the area.
Even the houses of their two married children are also located inside the danger zone.
The series of ‘unfortunate events’ that hit the elderly couple and the other landslide victims’ in 2018, however, fail to dampen their spirits as they welcome the New Year.
“Think positive gyod ta. Unsaon man na nato nga humana man. Kinahanglan man gyod ta mobangon og mo-padayon,” 58-year-old Shirley tells CDN Digital.
(We really have to think positively. We cannot do anything about it since it is all over. We need to get back up and continue living our lives.)
Jimmy, 59, who works as a heavy equipment operator at a material recovery site in Barangay Naalad in Naga City, said he tried to be strong since Day 1 of the tragedy when he volunteered to join the emergency responders in the Search, Rescue and Retrieval operations.
He said that he would continue to work, until his retirement in August 2019, in order to sustain himself and Shirley who considered their survival of the landslide a second life.
On Sunday, the CDN Digital team spotted the couple return to their home in Sitio Sindulan to fetch water that they would use for cooking at their rented home in Cepoc, which is still a part of Barangay Tinaan.
The couple is temporarily renting a house as they wait for their relocation at the Balili property, a coastal area in the village.
The construction of the first 50 units of the socialized housing site is scheduled to start this January.
Naga City Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong, in a message sent to CDN Digital, said the city government would continue to help the landslide victims, like the Tapaos, rebuild their homes and lives.
“I hope that they will continue to rebuild their lives with their own effort and the constant support of the city government. “The city government will ensure that the relocation homes will be put in place and that we will always be around to support them in whatever way we can,” Chiong said.
During the last quarter full council meeting, the Central Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC-7) has endorsed P1.7 billion worth of projects for the 2019-2022 rehabilitation plan of the landslide-struck area.
Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC), the firm that has Mineral Product Sharing Agreement (MPSA) in some mountains of Naga, has also started the implementation of the hazard reduction plan in the landslide area.
Although they have already accepted that they might not be able to return to their home again, Jimmy said his wish for 2019 would still be to go home to the house that he had poured blood and sweat to build.
“Basin kung wala nay kuyaw ug kung naa na gyoy safety wall. Maayo unta god makabalik mi din hi,” Jimmy said.
(If the risks will no longer be there, and the safety wall is up, it will be best if we can return and live here.)
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