DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /28 December) – Barangay captain Emilio Libradores and his staff in Northern Paligue in Padada, Davao del Sur were busy repacking relief goods for distribution to quake-stricken residents of Barangay Balik-balik in neighboring Hagonoy town on Sunday, December 15, when the magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck at 2:11 p.m. , sending them scampering for safety.
The relief goods, over a hundred bags of them, were to be distributed that afternoon in Barangay Balik-balik but the goods ended up “balik” (back) to their barangay as the supposed donors had ended up needing the donation instead.
Makeshift tents have been set up by residents at the open field in front of the barangay hall a few meters from the national highway. But on Wednesday afternoon, December 18, the relief goods and the laminated sacks, the material used to pitch tents, were not enough, said Libradores.
The village has a population of 584 families or 1,984 individuals. Of this number, more than half — over 300 families – were affected. But Libradores said they received only 218 boxes of relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and 26 rolls of five meters or 10 meters each, of trapal (laminated sacks)
A week after the quake, Libradores, who is on his third term as barangay captain, told MindaNews they received additional trapal and boxes of relief goods.
Resident Candelaria Arnado, 60, had been sleeping in their makeshift shelters every night since December 15 because of the aftershocks. Her house as well as her neighbors’, suffered some cracks. She expected to spend Christmas there, at least during evenings.
The barangay’s 534 families had earlier survived four above-magnitude-6 quakes in October — 6.3 on October 16, 6.6 and 61 on October 29 and 6.5 on October 31 – but the epicenters of these previous quakes were quite far from them and did not cause damage.
Libradores even led a team of barangay officials to Magsaysay town in October to bring relief goods there.
The December 15 quake, however, was closer to home, at 5 kms northwest of Matanao town.
The new barangay hall beside the old incurred some damages but Libradores said these could easily be repaired and the building is still structurally sound. The 3-million peso two-floor building was scheduled to be formally turned over on December 26, supposedly timed for their Christmas party.
There was no turnover as the damages have to be repaired. The party was held instead on Christmas Eve, together with the displaced residents in the tents fronting the town hall and residents from a nearby evacuation camp.
Libradores recalled they were supposed to leave for Barangay Balik-balik at 1 p.m. on December 15 but repacking took another hour. Before moving out of the barangay, Libradores said they planned to send some members of the team to go to South Green Marketing to buy candies for the children of Balik-balik.
But the quake struck and the errand was forgotten. Those who would have bought the candies were lucky. The three-floor South Green Marketing building collapsed.
The bags of relief goods, containing sardines, noodles, and three kilos of rice were no longer sent to Barangay Balik-balik that afternoon.
Libradores on December 18 told MindaNews he hopes residents of Balik-balik would understand. But the pants and shirts that they collected for distribution there would still be sent to the intended beneficiaries.
He vowed that if they have extra food, they would share these with residents of Barangay Balik-balik.
On Sunday, December 22, Libradores told MindaNews the relief goods intended for Balik-balik are still in the barangay hall and would be given to them as originally planned.
“We have decided po na ibigay namin kasi marami man din tumulong sa amin. … Share-share lang din kasi I believe the thought nga when you share, maraming darating na blessing” (We have decided to give to them because many are also helping us. Share-share because I believe that when you share, more blessings will come).
The relief goods – 115 packs – were finally distributed to Barangay Balik-balik at around 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 28, 13 days after its original schedule.
But the clothes — pants and shirts supposedly intended for Balik-balik — were added to their new collection of donated clothes for residents of Capiz in the Visayas who were displaced by floods due to Typhoon Ursula.
Libradores said they had asked the Philppine Red Cross to pick up the donated clothes.
“The flood victims of Capiz need the clothes more than the earthquake victims,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)