MANILA – Evelia Balili, 48, was not able to save anything from the floods except a few clothes, blankets and plates.
When the monsoon rains swamped many parts of Metro Manila this week, Balili’s house had been washed away by the floods. She lives a few meters away from the Tullahan River, at Pechayan Kanan, North Fairview village in Quezon City.
She, her husband and their three children and one granddaughter took refuge at the nearby Catholic church.
“Even the medicines of my five-year old granddaughter, who had German measles and UTI [urinary tract infection] were washed away by the floods,” Balili told Bulatlat.com in an interview. “The village officials warned us about the floods but offered no place for evacuation.”
Her neighbor, Dina dela Cruz, 49, suffered the same fate. Except for her charcoal stove burner and some clothes, Dela Cruz was not able to keep anything else.
When the water rose, Dela Cruz, her husband and their daughter went to a friend’s house near the highway.
When the flood subsided, both women and some 200 families had set up temporary shelters made up of used tarpaulin and other scrap materials.
Residents living near the La Mesa Dam also relied on themselves and the help of their neighbors and relatives for survival.
Genevieve Superable, 21, lives at Sapamanai village in Fairview. Their entire home and the small variety store she had were submerged in water.
“In just two hours of continuous rainfall, the water inside our house was knee-deep,” Superable told Bulatlat.com. She, her husband and their ten-month old son transferred to her mother’s house near the highway.
Meanwhile, Karen Macuna, 31, had to cross from one roof to another while carrying her seven-month-old son and tagging along her three other children. Their house at Ruby subvillage, a Gawag Kalinga community, also in Fairview, was also submerged in water and they had to transfer to a three-storey house of her husband’s relatives.
Some of the residents went to the Parish of the Good Shepherd at Regalado ave. for shelter.
Macuna said their village officials did warn them that the La Mesa Dam would release water but they were not given any decent place that would serve as their temporary shelter.
“They told us to go to the barangay hall in Dahlia but that place is also flooded during heavy rainfall,” Macuna lamented.
All the women said they experienced the same during the typhoon Ondoy in 2009.
Balili said after Ondoy, sometime in 2010, some 200 families near the Tullahan River were relocated to San Isidro village in Montalban, Rizal. She said the offer was limited to 200 families and she, like Dela Cruz, was not offered any relocation.
The relocation site was also flooded, Balili said. “Some of our former neighbors said they stayed at the local elementary school because of the flood.”
After Ondoy, Balili and Dela Cruz said it took them almost a year to rebuild their homes, buying pieces of construction materials such as coco lumber, galvanized iron sheets and plywood one at a time. “We had managed to put roof above our heads without any help from government and now, this,” Balili said.
She said they had not received any support from the local or national government back then and even now.
After Ondoy, representatives from the Quezon City government did a survey in their community. “They told us they would provide construction materials but nothing came,” she recalled.
If given the option to transfer, Balili and Dela Cruz said they would be very much willing to go. “Why not if there would be relocation? We just hope it would be within Quezon City,” Balili said. She said that some of their neighbors who relocated in Montalban went back and built their homes near the Tullahan River because there were no livelihood opportunities in the relocation site.
“At least here, we can eat if we persevere,” Balili said. Balili and Dela Cruz work as massage therapists to augment their family’s income. Their husbands are jeepney drivers.
It was also in search of livelihood that their families had left the provinces some two decades ago. Balili hails from Agusan del Sur while Dela Cruz came from Ilocos Sur.
Superable has the same sentiments. After Ondoy, she said there were offers to relocate to Montalban. “It is also flooded there. Why would we move there?” she said. “How would we survive if we have no livelihood?”
Superable said the relocation site is also far away from the public market and hospitals and the only thing near is an elementary school.
She said they have no other place to go. Her whole family, all seven members, has settled in Fairview in 2004. “We sold all our pigs to have money for transportation,” she said. They came from Tacloban, Leyte.
Macuna, meanwhile, has not been offered any relocation after Ondoy. She said the houses at sitio Ruby are part of a Gawad Kalinga community and they are paying taxes to the Quezon City government for the lots.
Macuna also lamented they have not received any help from government. Her husband, who works as an employee at the La Mesa Ecopark, will not receive any calamity assistance. “Mayor Bistek [Herbert Bautista] did not approve the calamity fund,” she said.
Even during Ondoy, Macuna said they received no assistance from government.
Asked for reaction on the accusation that the flood victims were stubborn, Macuna said, “We had no other place to go, what shall we do?” she said.
Help came from the local Churches and people’s organizations.
The four are among the more than 500 beneficiaries of the relief operations and medical mission organized by the Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS), a network of health non-government organizations, August 11.
The SOS mobilized doctors, medical students and scores of volunteers for the mission.(Bulatlat.com)
PHOTO CREDIT: Medel Hernani via Bulatlat.com