Spending Christmas at tent city

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Monday, December 23, 2013

LAST year for Noche Buena, Ma. Teresa Estorejo feasted on delicious food with her family at their home in Tanauan, Leyte.

This year, the super typhoon Yolanda survivor said she and her six grandchildren will have to make do without spaghetti, a holiday staple for their family.

They’re staying in one of the tents erected at the South Road Properties by the Cebu City Government and Philippine Red Cross (PRC) that serve as a family rebuilding center.

“Magnonoche buena kami kahit simple lang, kahit noodles party lang (We will have a simple noche buena, even if it’s just a noodle party),” said the 54-year-old Estorejo, who lost their home to Yolanda.

She said the parents of her grandchildren are separated.

“Kompleto ang mga apo ko. Walang nawala (My grandkids are complete. No one is missing),” she said.

Estorejo was nursing a fever when they transferred to the tent city from the gym in Barangay Tinago, Cebu City.

Even though she is taking medication, the widow said she’s not sure if she’ll be well by Christmas Eve, but they will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.


The Department of Social Welfare and Development 7 listed 47 families, or more than 200 individuals, living in the tent city, as of
yesterday afternoon.

The City and the PRC opened the tent city last Friday, after a two-week delay. It’s near the sea, before the Department of Public Works and Highways 7 building.

Mayor Michael Rama told the evacuees that their stay at the facility will only be temporary.

For Ivy Redilla, 32, Christmas will be awkward because her family is incomplete. Her live-in partner, Christian de Vera, 33, is in Tacloban City, working for a construction firm involved in the clearing operation.

De Vera sends her P800 every Saturday, but Redilla said the money is not enough to meet their daily needs.

If she runs out of rice and canned goods, she said she will go to the Tinago gym to ask for assistance.

“Wa’y lami ihikay kay naa pay trauma (I don’t feel like preparing after all that has happened),” she said.

Her youngest son, Xhandrel, seven, screams whenever a strong breeze lifts the plastic mat inside the tent. He would then ask her if a storm surge would wash their tent away, she said.

Redilla said she tells him that there’ll be no more flood.


She said she also suffers from nightmares. “Makamata lang kog kalit ug masud-ipan (I’m jolted from my sleep and I feel like I’m choking),” she said.

Redilla speaks fluent Cebuano because she attended school here, and her mother used to live in Barangay Pardo.

When they left Leyte on a boat last Nov. 26, they stayed at her mother’s friend in Pardo.

They decided to transfer to the tent city yesterday, despite the heat. Her mother and father are staying in a separate tent, which
is spacious.

“Naikog na mi sa amiga ni mama (We didn’t want to impose on my mother’s friend),” she said.

Last Sunday night, Estorejos and Redilla attended a party at the Tinago gym.

Coloring books, balls and toys were distributed to the children.

Estorejos said she also received a ham, which she left at a friend’s house in Tinago.

Redilla’s kids don’t want to go back to Leyte, but Estorejo’s grandchildren want to return to Tanauan.

“Makabalay ta mi og usab diri sa Cebu (I hope we can build a house here in Cebu),” Redilla said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 24, 2013.

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