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ILOILO, Philippines – “I can never forget how I accidentally let go of her,” said Elainne Manguito, a government employee, referring to her daughter who died on November 8, during the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that made its fifth landfall in northern Iloilo.
Elainne, 29, saw her two-year-old daughter, Kate Chanel, get buried under a pile of wooden rubble and the power barge of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) that crashed into their home in the coastal village of Botongon in the municipality of Estancia, causing a massive oil spill.
And to think Elainne works for Napocor, as a data encoder.
She is beyond grief. She also lost her 58-year-old mother, Jael, who was buried under the rubble of their home.
When the storm was lashing their village, her father was tightly clutching her mother’s hand. Her mother let go of his hand: “It’s okay. Save yourself” were her last words to Elainne’s father.
“We never expected that it would happen. The typhoons that had passed us before weren’t that strong,” Elainne said.
As of November 16, the Estancia Municipal Police has recorded 3,500 liters of oil spilled on the town’s shoreline.
Some of the residents are angry because Napocor claimed the houses were already damaged when the power barge came crashing into them.
Elainne, meanwhile, has filed an incident report at the community hall, but the report only lists her mother and her daughter as missing persons.
“They’re lying. It wasn’t this worse when the last storm came,” said Everna Corvera-Beluso, who lives with her husband in a house owned by her brother. Eighty percent of their house was damaged from the power barge’s falling support logs.
“They wouldn’t give even just five pesos. Because I’m one of their employees, they should at least take responsibility and help us pay for the hospital bills, because I’m having a hard time looking for family and friends who are willing to help us,” Elainne said.
She lamented that they are left with nothing – their house is totally destroyed and whatever remained were stolen by thieves.
Her sister, Princess, and their father, Eleuterio, are currently confined in a hospital in the provincial capital of Iloilo City.
According to one of their neighbors, when Princess was pulled out of the shore, she was fully covered in oil, her skin and eyes both yellowish and her stomach was so bloated from swallowing both sea water and oil that one may mistake her for a pregnant woman.
Neighbors had to pat her stomach using a wooden stick just to make her vomit all that she swallowed. She was taken to a local health center, where she was initially treated before being transferred to a nearby hospital.
“All I can remember is that I was holding on to one of the displaced support logs, blowing oil off my nose so that I can keep breathing, and the rest of how I survived was only told to me by the people at the local health center,” said Princess.
Princess’ pelvic bone is severely injured, and she is expected to stay in bed for at least 4 to 6 months, depending on her recovery. Her father, Eleuterio, is still recovering after getting minor injuries and wounds from the incident. Princess’s 6-year-old son Jha-el was saved from the crashing barge, after a relative pulled him out of its path.
“The only thing we are asking for is Napocor’s help, at least help us ease our burden of paying the hospital bills,” Princess said. – Rappler.com
(The writers are volunteers for the Typhoon Yolanda Story Hub Visayas, a citizen journalism portal created on Nov 13, 2013, by veteran journalists, student writers, mobile journalists, and photographers based in Iloilo City. The Hub delivers reports from across the Panay Island, especially the severely damaged and minimally covered northern Iloilo and the provinces of Antique, Capiz, and Aklan.)