Mt. Apo is shaken, Lumads evacuate

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 31 October) – Eight months pregnant, Angel Dumantay, 24, was in her house in Sitio Sudsuhayan (or Purok 6-A) in Ilomavis, a hinterland barangay at the foot of Mt. Apo, when the ground started shaking. The tremblor was slow in the first few seconds and suddenly escalated to intense jolting that the entire house would seem to fall apart. This was how she described the moment the 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit their place in the mountain last Tuesday.

Angel Dumantay is hoping that all is well with the eight-month old baby in her womb. MindaNews photo by JULES L. BENITEZ

Seated inside here tent in the evacuation site in Barangay Ilomavis, Dumantay narrated her experience in Cebuano, saying:

“My immediate reaction was to get out of the house. At first I was careful in climbing down the few steps of the house. But when the shaking suddenly grew strong, I jumped the last few steps and hurried to the front yard. The ground seemed to burst open. From where I was, I could see the wall of the mountain fronting our house collapse; the trees and soil rumbling down the steep slope.

“Then my panic heightened when the elevation near our house was sliding down towards my two nephews. Forgetting that I was pregnant, I rushed and pulled them away.

“Then I saw portion of our house crumble down the ravine.”

Comparing to the October 13 magnitude 6.3 earthquake, Dumantay said, “Mas kusog dyud kining bag-ong linog. (This quake was far stronger than the previous one.) She added, “First time nako makita nga nagbuto ang yuta sa Mt. Apo (This is the first time that I saw the ground of Mt. Apo burst open.)”

TENT CITY. At the backdrop of the Ilomavis evacuation site, the Mt. Apo range stands tall, but residents have reported landslides in the mountain range. MindaNews photo by JULES L. BENITEZ

Dumantay belongs to one of the 1,112 households, majority of whom are residing inside the foothills of Mt. Apo, who evacuated to the barangay center of Ilomavis for fear of getting trapped in the landslides, according to the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center (CDRRMC). Of this number, leaders from the 10 puroks comprising the barangay estimated that 346 houses suffered major damage. The exact number of houses that are totally destroyed has yet to be determined as the CDRRMC has yet to do assessment of the area.

“Ambot unsaon nako pagbalik sa among balay nga naguba na man daw (I don’t know how to go back to our house as accordingly it is already destroyed),” said Merlyn Nalas, 53, also a resident of Purok 6.

“Maghulat ra ’mi kung unsa’y isulti ni Mayor (We will just wait for the advice of the Mayor),” Nalas said when asked when they plan to go back to their houses. She added, “Na-trauma ko (I am traumatized).”

The City Health Office of Kidapawan operated a medical service in the evacuation center in Ilomavis. Medical volunteers from Love Jan Foundation helped attend to the patients. MindaNews photo by JULES L. BENITEZ

Two days into the evacuation center, evacuees are lining up the nearby barangay health station where the City Health Office and the Love Jan Foundation are giving medical services. The volunteer nurse said that on the second day, some 133 patients sought their assistance. Common complaints were high blood pressure, cough and colds.

Emergency assistance, including food packs and sleeping gears, have been distributed. A water relief system was installed as well.

Dumantay, Nalas and other evacuees from Mt. Apo are hoping that assistance will be given to them so they rebuild their houses, or the provision of a relocation site where they could build their new homes.

Ilomavis, a barangay named from the coinage of the names of the three ethnolinguistic groups present in the area—Ilocano, Manobo and Visayan—is 21 kilometers from Kidapawan City. Seventy percent of its population are Manobos.

As of October 31, before another magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit the area, the CDRRMC identified other evacuation sites in the vicinity of Mt. Apo as Sitio Lapan Elementary School in Barangay Perez with 35 household-evacuees, and Nuangan covered court in Barangay Nuangan with 14 household-evacuees. (Jules L. Benitez / MindaNews)