NEW BATAAN, Compostela Valley (MindaNews/05 Dec.) – A day after a flashflood spawned by typhoon Pablo hit their barangay in December last year, they tried to scavenge for food and water.
Instead, Jessie Agrepo and his elder brother, both residents of Barangay Andap, found their neighbor Emerito Cantila who had managed to crawl to a shanty after lying helplessly on the mud for at least 24 hours.
The shanty was at least a kilometer away from Andap, a large part of which had become a wasteland of boulders, mud and other debris carried by the flood.
Pablo struck New Bataan and neighboring areas on Dec. 4 last year, leaving hundreds of people dead and several others missing until today.
Upon seeing the 45-year old neighbor, the Agrepo siblings immediately wrapped him in a blanket, which they also used as an improvised stretcher.
“He had wounds all over his body, he was very weak when we found him,” Jessie recalled.
He believed Cantila may have been left for dead because rescuers could not carry him out of the area. The mud was waist-deep and the debris made it hard for the rescuers.
“Besides he was so big. Maybe it would be difficult for any rescuer to carry him,” he added.
Cantila earlier said it was a miracle that saved him. He thought he would not survive the massive debris that pushed him several times.
He said he was very grateful to the Agrepos, adding he would have died from the cuts and injuries that he sustained.
Cantila was among some 300 persons who sought refuge at the two-story health center building that eventually collapsed due to massive debris flow.
Only nine of them survived.
Jessie, on the other hand, was able to run away when mud and water raced across their village at the height of Pablo.
On Wednesday, Dec. 4, exactly year after the disaster, he was among the hundreds of people who gathered for the commemorative mass at the San Roque chapel in Andap.
After the mass, he dropped by at Cantila’s sari-sari store and bought candles, which he would offer to three relatives who were still missing.
Jessie recalled that aside from looking for food and water they were also searching for their relatives in the area where many of the villagers were believed to have been swept away.
He added that before they found Cantila they recovered a live pig that must have weighed around 40 kilos.
They decided to leave the animal however because Cantila was already too heavy for them. (Keith Bacongco/ Mindanews)