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Monday, October 25, 2021

A year after the quake: Thousands ‘just wanted to help’

ROGELIO Daño, 27, was on his first month as a clerk in the Cebu Capitol when he was sent to distribute relief goods in Boljoon, two days after the earthquake that struck exactly a year ago.

Christian John Tandulan, 22, a community development assistant, still remembers the aftershocks he and co-workers felt while delivering relief goods from Cebu to Bohol.

Daño and Tandulan are just two of the thousands of government workers and private volunteers who did more than survive last year’s quake.

They worked hard, for little or no extra pay, to help other survivors get back on their feet, even if it meant long hours repacking food and other goods. The trip and relief work in Bohol made Tandulan feverish.

Wa ko magduha-duha. Gusto sad ta motabang (I had no doubts about going to Bohol. I just wanted to help),” Tandulan said. He and Daño work in the Cebu Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).

The quake struck at 8:12 a.m. on a public holiday.

Plan

A day after, the authorities in Cebu reported that it had affected 6,329 families and more than 17,000 individuals.

Thirteen people died and 89 others suffered injuries in Pinamungahan, Argao, Toledo City, Ronda, Talisay City, Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) 7 reported.

A rehabilitation plan approved by the Regional Development Council said that Cebu needed P1.5 billion to rebuild structures the quake damaged.

Funds from the National Government, specifically the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), began to reach Cebu’s quake-struck towns some 10 months after the quake, in August this year.

In Bohol, Governor Edgar Chatto said it would have been more difficult for Boholanos to recover, had they not received help from government agencies, non-government organizations and private individuals. (Related stories, A4 and A6)

Long-term

Bohol, where the epicenter of the quake was, suffered the most damage. But it is also showing signs of recovery, including now-passable roads, rebuilt houses and the start of repair works on town halls and markets.

A year after the quake, what are some of the lessons local officials say they’ve learned?

“For earthquakes, the preparation is long-term,” said Dalaguete Mayor Ronald Allan Cesante. “We should prepare today.”

Change in the way buildings are constructed is a must, he said, because earthquakes cannot be predicted. The southern Cebu town’s municipal hall was damaged during the quake.

The town was among nine local governments in Cebu that received a combined P20 million from the DILG to fix government-owned buildings after the quake. Dalaguete’s share was P111,000.

Mayor Cesante said the town has assessed the different barangays to figure out how vulnerable they are. They have also conducted drills and procured equipment. They are finalizing a disaster preparedness plan that follows the best practices of the Province of Albay and San Francisco town in Camotes Island.

Preparation

Baltazar Tribunalo Jr., head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in Cebu, said his office has been working on an earthquake risk assessment.

He also plans to request for training on risk assessment, particularly for earthquakes and tsunamis, for all local disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) officers in the province.

He hopes the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology will help the Province with this next year.

In Alcoy, DRRM officer Ferdinand Edward Mercado learned from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) that about 90 percent of the town’s area is landslide-prone.

“So, if there is an earthquake and heavy rain, a landslide will definitely happen,” he said.

Earthquake drills are now frequently done in every school in town, he said.

“First, we have to be prepared. Second, we should not panic,” Mercado said.

A commotion in Pinamungajan town last year, while cash from a government program was being distributed, caused two deaths.

Recovery

One thing they’ve learned since that event and the quake, said Pinamungajan Mayor Glenn Baricuatro, was to make sure that whenever there are activities in the town’s sports complex, the beneficiaries are informed where to enter and leave the building during an emergency, to avoid a stampede.

The stacks of reports after that magnitude 7.2 earthquake contain several of these lessons that local officials say they’ve learned.

Among the things they leave out are the names of thousands of volunteers who helped make recovery possible.

A report of the national disaster council states only that from Oct. 23 to 27, at least 1,036 volunteers worked around the clock to help assemble 30,000 food packs for the quake’s survivors.

A team from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu went to Bohol the day after the quake and, the disaster council’s report says, handled 10 operations. They also visited the district hospitals in three Bohol towns, to offer their help. Their names were not given.

Tired, happy

Within the week of the quake, the Armed Forces transported 25,000 pounds of relief goods from the social welfare office in Metro Manila to Tagbilaran City.

And from Cebu Province, nursing graduate and Capitol employee Christian John Tandulan spent two days distributing relief goods in Tagbilaran City and towns of Maribojoc and Tubigon.

Tandulan caught a fever after all the work. He said he wanted to continue to serve others when needed, especially during disasters.

His fellow Capitol employee, Rogelio Daño, joined a team that was sent to Boljoon town in southern Cebu, some 48 hours after the quake. They were told to distribute relief goods in one barangay where a landslide during the quake damaged some houses.

Packing and distributing the goods proved to be exhausting, Daño said. But he felt lucky that he was spared.

Mao na’y giingon nga kapoy nga lipay kay nakatabang ka (The job was exhausting but I was happy because I was able to help),” Daño said. (Sun.Star Cebu)
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