ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/28 Dec) – True or not, but some residents in the coastal barangay of Santiago here claim that almost every night, they are hearing voices crying for help coming from the pile of logs swept from the mountains during the flashflood dawn of December 17.
One of them is fisherfolk Jaime Jambre, in his 50s, who said that there are certain spots in the pile of logs where the voices come from. He has been hearing voices of children, as well as the elderly, crying for help three days after that fateful day.
“On the third day after the flood, I heard cries for help. The voices you hear, you can really feel those people calling for help are in great difficulty,” he said in the vernacular as he coils his nylon string used in catching fish, himself standing on top of the logs, maybe one of which destroyed his house.
A decaying 20-foot log with a diameter of about three feet floating in the rampaging flood waters swept his house, made only of some light wood, plywood and bamboo. Lucky for them, his family was already leaving their house when the log hit it.
“With the log’s size, my house vanished in an instant. More logs came shortly after that not even a post got left behind,” he said.
Jambre recounted that the flood waters, carrying logs, came from different directions leading to the sea.
Julius Nadayag, 34, and his family were swept into the open sea by the strong flood current. They clung on to logs and other floating debris, wood from houses among them. Luckily, they were not carried too far from the shore.
“I’m sure there are still bodies trapped beneath the logs. We can still smell the decaying corpses. They must be the ones crying here at night,” he believes.
He recalled that it was high tide and the waves were strong when the flood came to Barangay Santiago.
The logs, Nadayag said, came from the nearby Mandulog River and slammed into houses.
“The morning after, a lot of bodies, apparently those hit by the logs, were recovered in the neighborhood. The number could have easily risen to over 100,” he said.
But one of his neighbors with his two-year-old son did survive despite being trapped in the pile of logs. Nadayag and the other neighbors happened to chance upon the father-and-son tandem, then helped them out.
Some of the residents of Barangay Santiago have sought shelter in the evacuation camps while some built their makeshift shelters. Those who opted to stay in the area sometimes group together and sleep in their neighbors’ shelters because they are disturbed by the crying voices at night, Nadayag admitted.
Jambre is worried it may take some time for authorities to totally cleanse the shore of decaying bodies.
As of this writing, 481 deaths were already recorded in this city and 891 more in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City. (Keith Bacongco/