“Oi, oi! Sir bugas! Bugas!”
(Hey, hey! Rice! Rice!) were the cries of the people as we entered the municipality of Cateel (pronounced KA-TI-IL) in Davao Oriental. It was a 10-hour land trip from Davao City via Lingig, Surigao del Sur passing by the towns of Monkayo and Trento.
I don’t know if I could do justice in describing the deluge and nightmare that I saw in these towns after Super Typhoon Pablo / Bopha hit the country earlier this week. Let me relay what I saw just hours ago:
December 8, 1:00am (Saturday)
Aboard an elf truck full of relief goods we packed the other day, on a journey that took us 10 loooooong hours, two flat tires before we finally got to Cateel, Davao Oriental. We passed by the towns of Monkayo and Trento which I would describe as ghost towns as houses here were left by the residents possibly to seek shelter somewhere.
We were actually stuck in Boston on our final ascent because the truck was too heavy, if not for the 6×6 Army truck that helped us, we will not be able to deliver the goods in time.
We arrived at Cateel a little after lunch, sleepy, tired and hungry passing by uprooted coconut trees as far as the eye can see. But all these were no match for the plight of the locals we saw. Along the road are children who can’t give us smiles, some even raise their hands and call for mercy, yelling “bugas! bugas!” (rice, rice please). I wanted to cry but I told myself to be strong as most of the volunteers I am with are from Cateel town, I wanted to support them emotionally.
People here were in the state of shock, still can’t believe of what just happened. Most are crying and you don’t see the kids playing. Very different from the memories I have for this beautiful town when I first visited June of last year. Now, it is a wasteland- debris scattered everywhere, trees if not uprooted left without leaves, schools, churches, houses and every building insight were left without roofs, worse, shattered. Everyone is homeless. Yes, EVERYONE.
The stench coming from the Amihan breeze was unbearable we have to put on our masks. “Malansa” if I would to describe the smell. I saw dead animals in canals and the smell of the dead bodies are still stinking the air. It was the worst picture I have ever seen in my entire life.
We started distributing relief goods and as I entered each Purok to check closer what has happened, I can’t help but cry inside. I was telling people to get out their houses and start falling in line because we will give them some food, water, clothing and medicines. They without a word will look at me blankly (shocked, disheartened and depressed) and start to walk towards the area where we give the goodies. The kids were silent sitting, without any hint of joy. What would you expect to those who saw their relatives and friends die in the wake of Typhoon Pablo.
One of them told me that the wind brought by Pablo was black as if angered, the winds were coming from all directions and was pounding the town for 5 straight hours, leaving it with nothing, no nothing, I repeat NOTHING.
There was no electricity and cellphone signal, no houses left and all coconut trees were of no use now, leaving them without livelihood (copra farming is their number 1 source of income). If I put myself in their shoes, I would ask why it happened? and why us?
I looked further and saw this sea of logs just beside the river. I just scratched my head and tsk tsk tsk…
I left Olan Emboscado and the rest of the volunteers to go back to Davao City and hopefully report what I saw. Olan is still in the state of shock, crying and don’t know what to do.
I saw a lot asking mefenamic acid because of pain and possible tetanus from the rusted nails they stepped into or the GI sheets that flew during the typhoon.
They need basic medical attention and so I would suggest to bring in doctors, nurses and everyone who can help in the situation. Most streets aren’t passable yet and needs clearing up. They need clean water and food. They need counseling too as they are still in trauma of what happened.
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Here are the ways you can help:
1. Share this information. This is only in Cateel, I just saw Boston from a far and Baganga needs help too. Search and rescue operation is still needed especially in upland baranggays.
2. Volunteer in the repacking of relief goods.
3. Pack medicine kit that includes the ff (more or less Php300):
10 Tabs Paracetamol
10 Caps Carbocisteine
10 Tabs Phenylpropanolamine/Chlorphenamine
10 Caps Mefenamic Acid
10 Tabs Aluminum / Magnesium Hydroxide
10 Tabs Hyoscine N Butylbromide
1 Bot Paracetamol Syrup
1 Bot Carbocisteine Syrup
1 Bot Phenylpropanolamine/Chlorhenamine Syrup
1 Bot Mefenamic Acid Suspension
4. Donate some cash.
More photos on my album: Typhoon Pablo Aftermath in Davao Oriental.