Some ‘Yolanda’ survivors leaving Leyte for Mindanao

BENIT, San Ricardo, Leyte (MindaNews/19 November) — Hundreds of survivors of super typhoon Yolanda in Leyte are starting to leave the island, and some of them are heading for Davao City and other parts of Mindanao.

Some of them said they will go to relatives in other parts of the country. Still others, however, said they still don’t know where to go.

One of those who plan to go to Davao with their families is Rene Boy Castil, 37. His wife, Lorna, and their three children, Kharen Mae, 14; Kathyren Mae, 7; and Ismael Bin Abdullah, 2, are going with him.

“Bahala na, basta makaabot kami sa Davao City (I don’t care what happens as long as we can go to Davao City),” Castil, who only P1800 left in his pocket said.

He said the money was given by his sister’s husband who works abroad. “It’s just P1800 because my sister shared it with her two other sisters.”

Asked why he chose Davao City even if he has no relatives there, Castil said he used to work in that place 16 years ago.

“That’s the place where I’m quite familiar, but that was 16 years already when I left then went abroad. I don’t know how it is look today,” he said.

He said their house in Barangay Bislig in Tanauan, Leyte was among the hundreds of homes that were destroyed.

He recalled their house collapsed around 7 a.m. of Nov. 8, just seconds after they abandoned it.

“We moved into our neighbor’s house which was a few meters away from ours and I could imagine we were around 200 people in there,” Castil told MindaNews on Sunday evening onboard the boat bound for Surigao from Benit.

He added they were all on the rooftop and were just lucky they weren’t hit by GI sheets that were carried by the winds.

Bound For Agusan

Another typhoon victim, Robert Cinco, a farmer from Barangay Pasil in Tanauan town said their two-story house was destroyed along with at least 20 others by strong winds.

With Robert were his live-in partner, Ruth Antipora and their one year-old son, Robert Jr. Hi brothers-in-law came to their village last Sunday and convinced him to move to Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

He said he had no choice because he can neither plant rice nor harvest copra since there are no more fertilizers and palay seeds in Leyte and the coconuts were uprooted.

He said only one person, a friend, died in their purok. The victim was buried under the debris after a tree broke and fell down on one of the houses.

For Compostela

Norma Loyola, a resident of Palo, Leyte said the she is going to stay in Compostela Valley for quite some time.

“I have a daughter there and she can provide us everything,” she said.

Her right leg swollen and limping, she said her house was destroyed and her small store was looted.

“It would have helped us in our daily needs,” she said.

Loyola is living with her granddaughter, Eleonor Loyola, a 25-year old hotel and restaurant management graduate.

Eleonor said they have no problem with her mother in Compostela since she is well-off. “My mother has several businesses in Davao. Maybe I can help her now but I want to stick around with my Lola if she comes back to Leyte.”

Eleonor said her granddaughter has lived with her since she was a young child.

Some other refugees from Leyte were planning to go to other areas of Mindanao.

For now, 57 families are being housed in an orphanage in Surigao City. They are among a few hundreds of individuals who arrived in Lapita Port.

These families have no money and clothing and are in dire need of food, said Ava Marie Villareal, a resident of Surigao City who visited these people.

She said generous residents had donated food and other items for them.

She said she raised money to enable the victims to visit their relatives in Surigao del Sur, Butuan City and other parts in Mindanao.

Good Samaritans

Some passengers on the boat that took the survivors to Surigao City shelled out money, food and a note to the Castil family.

The note, handed by an old man, referred Rene Boy to a close friend in Davao City who can give him a job.

“That guy is a very close friend of mine, show that letter to him. He has several businesses, I’m sure he can give you a job,” the old man said.

Rebe Boy couldn’t thank him enough, apparently excited at the prospect of finding a new life in Mindanao’s biggest urban center.

His children were hesitant to accept a box containing bottled water, biscuits and ready-to-eat foods from a woman.

“Accept it. Stop feeling ashamed or we’ll die,” he told his second daughter.

His wife Lorna was quick to say “thank you” to the lady, who later gave a few hundred pesos.

A young man gave some biscuits, vitamin C, and deodorant.

Rene Boy turned his head, covered his face and wiped his tears.

“We really don’t have a single centavo. Zero gyod,” he said with a laugh.

He said the P1800 from his brother-in-law wasn’t enough because the bus conductor charged them P3700. The conductor and the driver relented though after he begged them to be allowed to ride.

“I told them that if passengers would run out of seats, I will gave up mine,” he said.

“I thought bus companies would honor this note from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) but it turned out to be a big problem,” he said.

The note from the municipal DSWD said he must avail of free transportation to Davao as a typhoon victim. It was handwritten and signed by Tanauan DSWD office Madina T. Tolibas.

A former overseas Filipino worker, Rene Boy had planned to return to Dubai if his papers arrived but typhoon Yolanda changed all that. He said he could not leave his family in this situation but would go back abroad once things get better.

He added he doesn’t want to see his children getting sick owing to unsafe water and contamination from dead human bodies around. “We might die of diseases after surviving [the typhoon].”

He said some of his neighbors who died were buried near their houses, and others who were unidentified were buried in the same place where they were found.

Rene Boy said at least 2,000 were killed in three villages close to Bislig. These are barangays San Roque, Likod and San Joaquin. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)