“Kulba gyud; kalit ra kaayo” (We were really scared; it was so sudden)

The last time she fled her home was in 1987, when she was still residing in Paradise Embac, in the hinterlands of Davao City, an area described by the military as heavily influenced by the New People’s Army.

But Escoto says it was better then because “mu-abiso man ang military” (the military would advise us) prior to an air strike.

What happened Wednesday was “kulba gyud” (we were really scared). “Kalit ra kayo” (it was so sudden), she said.

“Run” was the only thing they could think of and run they did, with the grandchildren screaming (the children and grandchildren live in one area).

In their rush, they failed to bring anything but the clothes on their back.

Joseph Morales, 30, was fishing in the river with three other relatives when they heard the explosions. They ran and crawled across the banana fields and found refuge  two kilometers away, Joseph still clutching on to the sack containing the tilapia they fished from the river.

In those frightful moments, no one could believe Morales was suffering from polio, his right leg smaller than his left.

Joseph’s mother, Nora,  was home in Purok 11. When she first saw the aircraft she found them nice to look at, until she heard the explosions. Her husband Sergio, 55, said it was the first time ever that they experienced an air strike. They ran towards the packing plant where Nora works as a packer, not taking the road but through the banana fields.

Elsewhere in that vast banana plantation (Manay barangay is about a thousand hectares, about half of that planted to bananas, according to barangay councilor Ronnie Daquio), workers ran to where they could seek refuge.

Banana leaves can protect workers from heavy rains but not from lethal weapons fired from the air. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)