The burden that a husband and father has to carry for losing his wife, daughters to Odette
MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — Whenever heavy rain pours, his seven-year-old daughter covers her ears in fear.
This is what Harold Bantigue has to deal with as he and his daughter, Eleisha Faith, continue to live with the loss of their loved ones due to super typhoon Odette last year.
Harold lost most of his family—his wife Leah Clarus, 36; three-year-old-twin daughters Eloiza Dionne and Elaiza Dianne Clarus, and sister Emelita Bantigue, 43—when a wall collapsed on their house on the night the storm hit Cebu on Dec. 16, 2021.
Seven died in that incident in Sitio Sudlon, Barangay Maguikay in Mandaue City that night as Odette brought category 5 winds of up to 260 kilometers per hour.
Harold and his eldest daughter were saved that night, but living through the loss of their loved ones wasn’t easy for both of them.
A year after the tragic incident, Harold still remembers vividly the incident.
Harold emotionally recounts that before the incident happened, they were all on the second floor of their house and their twin daughters were playing. Then he heard a very loud sound and then seconds later, they were covered and pinned down by blocks of cement from the collapsed fire wall.
Harold, who was also in a very difficult situation then, called everyone, but his wife and sister did not answer and that was when he thought that they were already dead.
The most painful time for Harold was when one of his twin daughters, who was near him was still alive for several minutes. She was asking him for help, but he could not do anything because he was also in a difficult situation, and he was not even sure if he would make it out alive.
“Kahadlok ug kasakit ang iyaha’ng syagit niya. Mao na ang hangtud karun mao na nay gidala-dala nako. Unta bitaw, mahikap ra gyud nimo pero sa nahitabo wala gyud kay mahimo, Mapasagdaan lang gyud nimo mamatay imohang anak. Sakit kaayo isip usa ka amahan, nga ikaw man unta moluwas pero utro sad ka nga luwasonon. Mao nay pinakasakit nako karun,” he said.
(Fear and pain is what her shouts were. That is why until now that is what I have been carrying. I could really touch her but at that time there was nothing I could do. I could only let her die. It is so painful for a father to do, that you are supposed to be the one to save her but you yourself also needed to be saved. That is one of the painful things for me now.)
Harold said he was very hopeless at that time until his eldest daughter called him, shouting if he was still alive.
“Nagbitay mani siya (eldest) ngari (part of the house’ 2nd floor). Natuwad, iya tiil naipit. Mao to’ng naningkamot ko kay naa pay nagkinahanglan nako,” said Harold.
(Her daughter (eldest) was hanging here (part of the house’s second floor). She was hanging upside down with her feet pinned by the concrete. That is why I tried my best to survive because there is still someone that needed my help.)
Harold said that he and his eldest daughter would be visiting them at the cemetery today, the first anniversary when the super typhoon took away his loved ones.
Just like Harold, Fatima Suico has not recovered mentally and emotionally from her experience when Super Typhoon Odette hit Metro Cebu.
Fatima lost his father Jose Winnie Enoc, 62; his brother Arnold Enoc, 24; and niece Aira Mae, 16; to the typhoon because the fire wall of the nearby establishment collapsed.
“Sa amoa, i-emotion, dili pa gyud mi kadawat. Ambot lang og pila pa ka years nga makarecover mi,” said. said Suico.
(For us, in our emotion, we cannot still accept what happened. We don’t know how many years will it take for us to recover from this.)
Suico said that they would be celebrating Christmas at the cemetery where their loved ones were buried.
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