NEW BATAAN, Compostela Valley (MindaNews/2 November)—While most Filipinos trooped to the cemeteries to remember their beloved departed on Friday, All Saints’ Day, some residents of this town who lost their families and relatives to rampaging flashfloods 11 months ago gathered at a marker standing at the center of Barangay Andap.
The marker bears the names of the 436 people who perished and at least 400 others who have remained missing after heavy rains brought by typhoon Pablo spawned flashfloods that almost wiped out the entire village.
While most of those who remembered their loved ones in Andap offered candles and flowers in the marker on Friday, the Cantila family set up an orange tent where they would spend the night, weather permitting, to welcome All Souls’ Day today, November 2.
The family puts up the tent in the middle of rocks and rubbles where they believed their house used to stand.
Lilibeth Cantila-Aquino, who lives in Davao City, told MindaNews that seven family members, including her mother, remained missing until now.
Her father, Inocencio Cantila, 70, was spared from the disaster, saying he was confined in a hospital in Tagum City when Pablo hit the town. The couple has seven children and 20 grandchildren.
Vigil on the rocks
Aquino said they brought cooking utensils, food, water, extra clothings and a folding bed for their plan to stay overnight amid the rocks for a vigil.
They brought with them a folding bed and laminated pictures of their missing family members, which were edited from family pictures taken a month before the disaster.
“If it won’t rain, we’ll sleep here. But if it does, the house of my brother is just nearby,” Aquino said, pointing to the chapel.
The house of the Cantila family used to stand in front of the Andap Elementary School. The family donated a hectare for the school site.
The flashflood washed away the elementary school buildings and left only one of the 15 classrooms standing.
The debris flow from the resort village of Andap stretched some 10 kilometers downstream to Barangay Cogonon, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 11.
It buried under rocks and boulders the village center of Andap, houses, farmlands and a portion of the cemetery.
Flowers, candles, food
At the marker, which was inaugurated 40 days after the typhoon hit the town, families and relatives of the victims offered candles, food, flower and even soda.
Some relatives were also seen erasing the names of some persons still alive but mistakenly listed as among those who perished in the flashflood.
Parish priest Fr. Edgar Tuling told MindaNews that only a few attended the mass on All Saints’ Day.
“Others maybe attending the mass on All Souls’ Day,” he added.
At the public cemetery, which was not spared by the flashflood, some residents were seen repairing destroyed tombs.
Some other tombs have been totally swept away by raging floodwater.
At least 324 bodies were buried in the mass grave in the public cemetery. Only two of the dead were identified.
Fr. Tuling said that results of the DNA samplings conducted by forensic experts of the National Bureau of Investigation have yet to be made available.
They have yet to come back to this town to report the result of their DNA samplings, he noted.
The DNA samplings were taken last January.
The mass grave is marked with the initials “PNB.”
Some relatives also offered candles and flowers at the cross near the mass grave. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)