Dream house built from working 7 years without break in Kuwait now a rubble

MALASILA, Makilala, North Cotbato (MindaNews / 02 November) – Forty-eight year old Jinky Songcolan, worked as a housekeeper in Kuwait for seven years without break so she could save enough money to build her dream house.

“Gusto nako muuli ko kung naa na ko handumanan gyud” (I wanted to come home when I could have a remembrance of what I sacrificed for in seven years), the mother of six told MindaNews Friday as they were settling down in their temporary shelter — the now “tent city” at the Malasila Elementary School.

By December this year, her three-bedroom dream house made of concrete in Barangay Luayon would have turned a year old.

But that house, that “handumanan,” is gone.

Jingky Songcolan (center) narrates she worked seven years in Kuwait without taking a vacation so she could build her dream house. The three-room concrete house was finished in December last year. The series of quakes reduced it into rubble. MindaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

The Magnitude 6.3 quake evening of October 16 caused some cracks in her house. But it was still habitable and repairable, Songcolan said.

The house incurred more damages after the Magnitude 6.6 and 6.1 quakes morning of October 29. They spent the night in makeshift tents outside the house, she said.

But when the Magnitude 6.5 quake struck at 9:11 a.m. on Thursday, October 31, Songcolan’s house totally crumbled.

“Grabe. Hugno na gyud tanan” (It all collapsed).

“Sakit lagi sa akoa. Pero alangan muhilak ta nga wa na man gyud tay mahimo,” (It is so painful to me. But should I cry when we can’t do anything about it anymore?), she asked.

Songcolan, mother of six (three of them already married, she adds), told MindaNews she has left her fate to God. “Ang tanan naay plano ang Ginoo” (Everything is according to God’s plan), she said, tears welling in her eyes.

It wasn’t just Songcolan’s house that collapsed. Her neighbors’ too.

“Concrete ug dili concrete, hugno” (Concrete or not, they all collapsed), Arlene Lumayon said.

There was no time to grieve over their losses. They had to flee down the slippery, muddy road, some on foot, others on motorcycle.

Lumayon and neighbors arrived at 2 a.m. on Friday at the Malasila Elementary School. Late afternoon of Thursday, there were no evacuees in that campus, only in the Malasila National Technical and Vocational School. By Friday noon, the school ground was filled with makeshift tents.

How long they will stay here, they do not now.

Up there in the mountains, many of them work as rubber tappers, paid on a 50-50 sharing basis.

Translated into pesos, a rubber tapper’s average delivery of 40 to 50 kilos of cup lump a week at 21 pesos per kilo before the quake was between 800 to 1000 pesos. The rubber tapper gets half of that amount or 400 to 500 pesos a week.

What livelihood awaits them here, the evacuees say they do not know.

Rosalia Aguana of Sitio Kawayanon, a 37- year old mother of four, said they experienced evacuating for a few days during the “gyera” (war) in their area between government forces and the New People’s Army. She reckons the period from 2015 to 2018.

“Mas maayo pa ang gyera” (War is better), she said, because they could evacuate and return home.

The series of four above-Magnitude-6 earthquakes between October 16 and 31 had destroyed their houses. There is no house to return to, and if government declares their area a no build zone, Rosalia and her neighbors will no longer have a village to call home. (Carolyn O. Arguillas /MindaNews)