IT HAS been five years and five months to the day when that devastating and fatal Typhoon Pablo snuffed hundreds of lives in several regions in Mindanao and left nearly a thousand missing. Many of the stories of those who did not make it might be forgotten, gone or never uncovered, only time will tell.
From time to time, some of these stories would surface, refusing to be buried along with countless others. Such was the story of a young lad named Mario Manguiob, Jr. who was lost out at sea along with several others after huge waves smashed their fishing boats to pieces dawn of December 3, 2012 in the coastal community of Baculin, Baganga Davao Oriental.
The young man was among the missing who were never found. Along with him were the crew of a fishing vessel from General Santos City who decided to seek shelter from the storm. Local folks recounted that only one crew survived after he was told to disembark by his captain because he was drunk.
Unable to hold back his emotions when he started to speak about the loss of his 17-year-old son and namesake Mario Jr. that still brings so much pain, the elder Mario Manguiob Sr. admitted that the incident had initially made him angry and bitter at life, unwilling to let go and wishing to find his son’s remains.
Though he was a happy-go-lucky and jolly type of person, at some point he actually refused to accept the responsibility to lead as president of the Disaster Preparedness Committee of Barangay Baculin. However, he eventually relented upon realizing that he can help their community.
Thus, in one of the activities with Capacity Building launched by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI), Manguiob expressed his gratitude for the new knowledge that he learned, and seemingly became contrite when he spoke about his loss, as he also thanked MISFI for the new learning he and his fellow barangay functionaries have gained.
His voice visibly giving away the deepest pain he was feeling as he talked about it at some point during the training, Manguiob said he has somehow come to accept the reality that his son will not be coming back.
Through the years Mario had to deal with the non-closure, like how many among relatives of missing persons have to face in grieving lost loved ones and not having the benefit of a closure.
The Leadership training was provided by MISFI to the officers and members of the Disaster Preparedness Committees (DPC) organized in the three Barangays of Baganga under the project “Enhancing Capacities in Disaster Risk Reduction Management for More Resilient Peoples and Communities (Encap).”
As chairman of Lupong Tagapamayapa in charge of keeping the security of Barangay Baculin, Mario Manguiob, Sr. holds a vital responsibility not only to look out for peace and order but also in the event that calamities strike.
Though many of the fisher folks in their barangays are still waiting for government assistance with their livelihood after most of them are still reeling and trying to recover from the loss of their fishing boats, Edilberto Otacan, the chairperson of the Nagkahiusang Mananagat sa Baculin (NMB) said they have not lost hope that they can recover very soon.
Learning Disaster Preparedness the hard way
A barangay health worker in Barangay Saoquigue shared her experiences when Typhoon Pablo struck. She revealed how the prevailing attitude of indifference and cynicism of a people who have never experienced harsh climactic changes most of their lives in their community gravely affected their safety and security.
Jesusa Masalino was among the barangay functionaries who attended the Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction Management (CBDM) training launched by MISFI in Saoquigue, Baganga, Davao Oriental and she related just how the indifference of some folks in their community proved fatal in the event of typhoon Pablo.
Unlike many in her community who did not heed the warnings and instead laughed at her when she warned about the approaching typhoon Pablo, Masalino said she immediately packed her things and advised her relatives and neighbors to do the same, and put all their important belongings in a plastic cellophane. She likewise told them to abandon their houses and find safer and higher places to avoid the possible rising of the sea level in a storm surge or a tidal wave.
Thus, Masalino hastily led them (about 30 of them including children and the elderly) to higher ground and found a newly built and barely finished house and stayed there for the night.
She related that because most of the walls of the house were not yet in place at that time, they huddled in the middle of the structure and held on to the posts as the wind lashed against them and all they could do was hold sway. She said they were all drenched to the bones as the storm ceaselessly battered their municipality, but nevertheless, they all survived the cold and sleepless night. When she saw the devastation to her community the morning after the storm, she was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the destruction.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on May 22, 2017.
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