2 brothers share tales of survival, helplessness-A A +A
Friday, October 25, 2013
ANTEQUERA, Bohol -- Half of Saturnino Barace Jr.’s body was buried underground after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook Barangay Obujan last Oct. 15.
The soil where their house stood collapsed, covering his mother Emiliana, 48; sister Elizabeth, 24; niece Shame Jyle, five; and his father Saturnino Sr.
Saturnino Jr. said he could see his father’s foot in front of him. He heard the latter’s faint voice say, “Paningkamot (Try to escape).”
He also heard the moans of his mother, sister and niece. He shouted for help, but no help arrived.
After he freed his right hand from the ground, he dug his left hand and set it free.
He grabbed his father’s foot, but he couldn’t pry it loose because the soil continued to move as a result of the aftershocks.
“I had difficulty breathing,” Saturnino Jr. said in Cebuano. “I thought I’d die.”
He said he tried to stop breathing, to no avail. “Kon mag-aksiyon kog hikog, di man jud nako mabuhat (I tried to end my life, but I couldn’t go through with it).”
His family was among the 16 fatalities in the town, said Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer Januario Lanzaderas.
Lanzaderas said six-meter-deep cracks appeared after the quake.
As for Saturnino Jr., rescue finally came six hours later.
He said he can’t help but cry at the thought that he was helpless to help his family.
Before the quake, he was fixing a chair with his father. His brother Michael, who also survived, was repairing their toilet.
Michael said Emiliana was washing clothes, while Shame Jyle was playing with a paper plane. Shame Jyle’s father Rodel and mother Maya had gone to Tagbilaran City.
Michael said he noticed the loud rustling of the leaves, and then felt the earth move violently. He ran.
Michael said he saw his father, mother and sister embrace Shame Jyle. His father ordered all of them to crouch. That was when the ground fell from underneath them.
Michael was able to call Rodel soon after the tremors subsided and the latter and his wife went home immediately.
Rodel said he joined other relatives dig the rubble that swallowed their house and family. “Namasin lang ko basi’g buhi pa sila (We took the chance that maybe they’d still be alive),” he said.
Maya said their daughter would have turned six last Sunday.
Meanwhile, Rodel said there were signs that a quake was coming but ignored these.
He said a relative told him that an unusual flock of fruit bats darkened the sky of Maribojoc last Oct. 1. Last month, he said, they heard an explosion that seemed to come from beneath the ground. An hour before the quake, he said he heard the dogs in their neighborhood wail.
Three weeks ago, Rodel said his father told him he dreamed of seeing a road that went on indefinitely and their house disappearing. “He couldn’t describe what he was feeling,” Rodel said in Cebuano. “He could barely get a good night’s sleep since then.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 25, 2013.