Rescuers help deliver baby boy in flooded Cabanatuan

Pia Ranada, Voltaire Tupaz
Rescuers help deliver baby boy in flooded Cabanatuan


(UPDATED) At the height of Typhoon Lando, a stranded mother gives birth to a baby boy on the floor of a rescue truck

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In the dark, flooded plains of Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija province, a healthy baby boy was born early Monday, October 19 – thanks to the assistance of volunteer rescuers.

CJ Custodio and other members of the Wilderness Search And Rescue (WISAR) team helped support a 28-year old woman in labor – a first for the seasoned responder and member of the Cavite disaster management office. 

Emergency doctors Ted Esguerra and Bernadette Velasco took turns coaching Custodio over the phone during the delivery.

“While talking to me over the phone, he was so calm and he did the right positioning of the baby, sterile clamping and allowing for the placenta to naturally go out,” said Dr Ted Esguerra, the Disaster Preparedness and Response Unit lead of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and WISAR founder.

It was the first time Custodio helped with delivery, Esguerra told Rappler. 

Rescue truck

It was exactly 5:07 am when Anna Lukyaw’s baby boy was born in Villa Barbara Subdivision, Cabanatuan City.

He was delivered on the floor of a rescue truck an hour.

“The rain kept getting into his face. But he’s a healthy baby boy,” said Custodio.

“The instructions were very clear: hold the baby’s head, clamp his umbilical cord two inches from his body,” Custodio told Rappler later that day. 

He and 4 other OCD personnel and 5 military soldiers were asked by the Nueva Ecija provincial government to fetch the stranded Lukyaw in her house.

It took them 25 minutes to get there. The strong current of the flood waters slowed them down, but at 4 am, they were in front of her house.

They escorted 28-year-old Lukyaw, already undergoing labor pains, down the stairs and into the wobbling raft.

Custodio is thankful she had waited until boarding the truck to give birth. 

The truck driver was given instructions to drive slowly as Custodio delivered the baby.  

Lukyaw and her new son are now in P. Garcia Memorial Hospital. Her husband followed her there right after she was rescued.

The father was “very disoriented kasi sa panahon hindi niya naisip na ngayon manganganak (because at the time he didn’t think she would give birth), very untimely,” remembered Custodio. (READ: Typhoon Lando: ‘Worst floods’ in history)

But he and his companions all felt, on some level, they too were new fathers of a boy born in Lando’s wake. 

LIFE GOES ON. Monday morning in Cabanatuan City. Photo by Rappler

Assisting women in labor during calamities

This is the second time Esguerra’s team assisted an expectant mother in a typhoon situation. (READ: Doctor in Manila helps deliver baby ‘Ruby’ in E. Samar)

He gives the same tips to emergency responders who are called to help deliver a baby in times of calamity:

VOLUNTEER. Dr Ted Esguerra poses with his "help banner" and his emergency bag, which he brings everywhere.
  • Look for a clean, elevated place for the expectant mother to lie upon. Don’t panic.
  • Look for assistance or help – ask someone to boil water for you. Get nylon thread, scissors, pan, etc. 
  • Ask the mother how many pregnancies she’s had, if she had any delivery in the past, while instructing her to breath through her mouth to calm her down. 
  • Wash your hands if you cannot get gloves.
  • Get ready to catch the baby as you instruct the mother to iri (push).
  • If the baby is out, deal with the head right away by cleaning the mouth and nose with a clean cloth. Don’t let the cord get entangled 

According to Esguerra, the mother and baby were transported to the Dr Paulino J Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center in Cabanatuan City with the help of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division.

Call for volunteer responders

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC) hailed the responders for helping save lives in flood-hit Nueva Ecija.

Masaya tayo sa nangyari na iyon dahil pinadala natin ang ating mga kasamahan – lalo na’t mga volunteers ito – para makatulong sa ating mga kababayan,” NDRRMC executive director Alexander Pama told Rappler after he heard the news Monday morning.

(We are glad for what the volunteers did because we sent them to help our people in need.)

NDRRMC and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) earlier called on volunteer responders in Metro Manila and areas near Central Luzon to immediately proceed to Aurora, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and Pampanga to assist in rescue operations. (READ: Calls for help in Central Luzon surge)

WISAR sent at least 14 responders to help in the search and rescue operations, braving the bad weather and navigating through impassable roads to reach Cabanatuan City. 

Other groups that responded include the following: 

  • EDC Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response Unit
  • Philippine Red Cross
  • Pilipinas 911-Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation 
  • Search and Rescue 161st Squadron Philippine Coast Guard and Auxillary
  • Zion Emergency and Disaster Response Unit

According to Pama, more volunteers are still needed in the area to augment government responders on the ground as calls for rescue in flooded areas surged Sunday night. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.


Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at