MAKILALA, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 03 Nov) — In the last 10 years, Ano Loma, a 50-year old carpenter, and his wife Ranyfe, a 46-year-old housewife, would set aside a small amount from his earnings to build their dream house phase by phase.
The couple and their only child were all set to transfer to their new concrete house, even if it remained unfinished, but the October 31 Magnitude 6.5 earthquake dashed their dreams.
“We built our dream house for 10 years, saving whatever we could to buy construction materials gradually. But in a snap, the horrifying earthquake stole that dream from us,” Loma, of Barangay Batasan here, told MindaNews in the vernacular.
“It’s not safe to live there anymore. I will condemn it,” he added, noting they invested P200,000 to build it slowly.
Obviously, the family’s 36 x 24 square meter new house already suffered damages during the two earthquakes that struck since two weeks ago, with the last one giving it the big blow.
The existing house where the Loma family lived, made of concrete and light materials, was damaged by the October 16 Magnitude 6.3 earthquake.
Three strong earthquakes later, the Magnitude 6.6 and 6.1 on October 29 and the Magnitude 6.5 on October 31, the old house of the couple was knocked down by more than half and no longer safe to live in.
“The quakes were horrific. The ground growled. The earth moved fiercely not just sideways but up and down,” Loma said. But he was grateful his family was safe.
Sitting on the ground, Ranyfe was salvaging whatever she can from their collapsed house, including the crayons of their child.
“It’s good though that it happened daylight, otherwise I can’t imagine the mayhem if the quake struck in the dead of the night while most of us were sleeping,” she said.
Since Thursday night, thousands of families here have been sleeping outside their destroyed houses, many waiting for tents to protect them from the elements.
As early as October 16, when the quake damaged their old house, the couple had decided to transfer to their unfinished house by October 31, but before they could move their belongings, another earthquake struck in the morning of that fateful day.
In Tulunan town, where the epicenters of the Magnitudes 6.3, 6.6 and 6.1 quakes were traced, Mayor Reuel Limbungan stressed that beyond the physical impact is a traumatic experience that will last a lifetime.
The October 29 and 31 quakes struck in the morning while work and school were ongoing.
The mayor said they have sought the help of psychosocial therapists to help residents process their ordeal.
“The tremors were very traumatic to the learners and even to the teachers. It has been more than 15 days of disaster,” he told MindaNews.
Typhoons and floods will be over in a day but there’s no way to tell when earthquakes will strike, the mayor added.
Dozens of families from Tulunan have received cash assistance from the National Housing Authority, which had earlier pledged through its Emergency Housing Assistance Program, to extend P30,000 for totally destroyed houses and P20,000 for partially damaged, the mayor said.
Dorecita Delima, Department of Trade and Industry-12 (DTI-12) director, warned traders against jacking up prices of commodities in quake-affected areas.
“We have imposed a price freeze because of the calamity,” she said.
Prices have been frozen in the towns of Makilala, Tulunan and M’lang and Kidapawan City, all in Cotabato.
Delima appealed to suppliers of bottled water and other consumer goods from neighboring areas to sell their commodities for quake-affected areas at old prices, amid reports that unscrupulous traders are jacking up prices. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)