Opting to stay, Tacloban folk build houses from debris

TACLOBAN CITY (MindaNews/27 November)—Uncertainties of finding a job elsewhere forced some survivors here to stay put, as they rebuild their shattered houses from debris left by super typhoon “Yolanda,” which devastated this city and other parts of the Visayas recently.

“If I am going to leave here and go to Manila, Cebu or somewhere else, there’s no assurance that I can find a job there,” Rogelee Galangue, a resident of Barangay 87, Manlurip, San Jose, told MindaNews.

A father of five, Galangue, a carpenter, was seen rebuilding their house from materials he rummaged from the debris.

“I can build my house in just a few days but my problem is I don’t have money to buy materials like nails and plywood, among others,” he said.

In his village, which is about 500 meters from the seashore, hundreds of houses were destroyed by Yolanda’s wrath.

Galangue’s two-story house, which was made of concrete and light materials, was torn into half by the typhoon’s impact.

Catalino Agujero, 57, a resident of Barangay 84, said his house was totally wiped out.

“I have nothing so I make a shelter for my family from these scattered debris,” he said.

“Life becomes really so hard, this is the most difficult situation in our lives,” he added.

Without carpentry tools and nails, Agujero ties materials together to build a makeshift house, taking apparent relief from his childhood play days when he and his friends would make “balay-balay” (a game to make a house).

“You gather everything in your surroundings and make a makeshift house so that you can seek shelter,” he stressed.

Unfortunately, Agujero had stepped on a rusty nail as he scavenged for useful materials from the debris. He had yet to seek medication.

Agujero recalled that water rose up to the roof of his house when Yolanda struck last November 8.

Despite the terrifying moment, he and his family survived the horror.

“I was born and raise here. I’ll stay here forever until my last breathe. I would never ever abandon this place,” he said in mixed Bisaya and Waray.

Seeing dozens and dozens of dead people a day after the typhoon struck continues to haunt him.

“I couldn’t forget that day. Some of my friends lost their lives and properties as well,” he said.

Cadavers inside body bags could still be seen last Friday lying on the roadside.

Agujero noted he is worried about the impact of the devastation to the psychological and emotional well-being of his children.

“In our village alone, at least 300 people have died,” he said.

Lilia Castro, 63 a retired cashier of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Region 8, said she will not also leave their place.

Castro’s house was partly damaged.

Other houses surrounding hers were either completely ruined or also partially damaged.

“We survived by staying on the rooftop,” she said.

She said majority of her neighbors already left to other parts of the country.

All of Castro’s family members are safe except her grandson, who went at the beach along with his friends the night before Yolanda struck.

“He is missing until now, so are his friends who stayed overnight there. We presumed he is dead because several people died in this neighborhood, which is 400 meters away from the shoreline. They were close to the shores,” she said.

Castro wished for electricity to be restored before Christmas.

“This might be the saddest Christmas to all survivors who lost their sons, properties and livelihood,” she said.

Despite the catastrophic event that happened in her town, she said Tacloban “is still the best place to live.”

“We are down today but I’m pretty sure we can rise up again,”Castro said.

With support pouring in this city from different parts of the country and abroad, she said they are slowly mending their lives.

Water supply is now back here.

“The first few days I planned to give up, to move out. Hunger, thirst and seeing dead people made me weaker,” Castro said.

“I thought it was just a nightmare,” she said. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)