Quake victims desperate for new livelihood

DIGOS CITY -- Several earthquake victims were driven out of the mountains following the series of earthquakes that hit parts of Mindanao recently, thus, they badly need to find means to earn a living.

Gerney Bokuya has been supporting his family by harvesting coconut and rubber from trees growing in the upland areas of Magsaysay town, Davao del Sur.

In the recent assessment conducted by the Office of the Civil Defence-Davao, it was revealed that many hillside and mountainous areas were devastated by landslides - including the trail going to Bokuya’s farmland.

“It’s impossible to go to our field,” he said.

Two weeks after the first strong quake that hit the region in October, “The ground is very unstable and (we fear that) another earthquake will happen,” he narrated in vernacular.

Bokuya was at his home, made of hollow blocks and wood, when the tremor struck.

“That was the first time that we experienced a strong earthquake like that,” he said, pertaining to the October 16 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

Bokuya along with his wife and two children moved into an evacuation site in Barangay Upper Bala. Authorities also prohibited other locals from returning to their houses.

When the second earthquake struck in October 29, he was at the school with his wife.

“We were really scared since we were inside a concrete building. You just forget about the drill and run outside,” he said.

Fortunately, they were at the evacuation site when the October 31 6.5-magnitude quake occurred.

Bokuya said he hugged his family as they watched smoke billow from the debris that fell from the mountains.

“We saw large rocks falling,” he said, adding that they could hear the cries of the old women in their community whenever there is a tremor.

But most of the time, his wife and 10-month-old baby are sleeping in another relative’s larger tent at the lower part of the evacuation camp.

“It’s too hot here. And when it suddenly rains, there is mud everywhere. Unlike in the upland where the climate is more pleasant,” he said.

Bokuya said they also miss the fresh food that they get from the mountains as they now rely on relief goods like noodles and canned meat.

He feels helpless about not being able to go to the field and work, especially since his family has other needs such as milk for their baby. “We don’t even have clothes because we left our house in such a hurry,” he said.

Bokuya also showed this writer the rest of the camp, with some men constructing more temporary shelters and women digging holes for makeshift toilets. (Orlando B. Dinoy)


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