Evacuation and relief: The life of a Marikina family

David Lozada
Seventy-nine families are currently staying in H. Bautista elementary school. The Sapia family is one of them

WAITING. Mercy Sapia, 39, with her youngest son waits for the food supplies from the Marikina government. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

MARIKINA CITY, Philippines – When the the storm warning signal was raised for Typhoon Maring on Sunday night, August 18,  39-year old Mercy Sapia immediately led her family to H. Bautista Elementary School (HBAS), 1 of the 7 evacuation centers in Marikina.

Tuwing may bagyo at warning, lumilikas kami (Every time there is a typhoon and warning, we evacuate),” said Mercy, a mother of 6 and a resident of Brgy Donya Petra in Marikina City.

Lumilikas talaga kami agad tuwing sunod-sunod na ang ulan. Lalo na nung naranasan namin ang Ondoy pati Habagat,” Mercy added. (We immediately evacuate whenever there’s continuous rain, especially after we experienced Ondoy and Habagat.)

Mercy said the past typhoons had taken their toll on her family, especially on her children.

Nagka-phobia kami. Lalo na yung pinaka-bata kong anak. Parang takot siya sa ulan minsan,” she added. (My family, especially my youngest child, got a phobia. He is sometimes afraid of the rain.)

Marikina evacuation centers

Evacuees transform classrooms into makeshift bedrooms everytime storms threaten Marikina. One classroom is usually shared by 3 to 4 families.

The Sapia family is 1 of the 79 families (350 people) who sought shelter in HBAS.

According to one of the volunteers, 99 families (633 people) already went home at 9am on Monday, August 19, since the rains have subsided.

In Nangka Elementary School (NES), 28 families (211 people) are currently staying in the classrooms. This is 53 families (209) less than last night’s number.

The Marikina government provides food and medical assistance during evacuations.

Other evacuation centers in Marikina are located in Concepcion Elementary School, Concepcion Integrated School, Malanday Elementary School, the Bolekak covered court, and Pilipinas Village court.

MAKESHIFT HOUSE. 3 families share this room in Nangka Elementary School. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

Site conditions

Despite the efforts of the local government, Mercy said the conditions in the evacuation centers are often difficult.

Mahirap dito minsan lalo na sa banyo at pagkain. Kapag maraming tao, may mga hindi naaabutan ng pagkain. Suwertihan lang sa mga mauuna,” Mercy noted.

(The situation here is difficult, especially the comfort rooms and food supplies. When there are many people here, some are not given their ration. Only the first ones who get their share are lucky.)

Minsan nag-aaway-away pa nga ang mga tao dahil sa pagkain,” she added. (Most times people even quarrel over the food supplies.)

She also said her children often get sick when they are in the evacuation centers.

Still thankful

Mercy said that her children’s safety is important. She said she is grateful to the local government that her family found a refuge during disasters.

Nagpapasalamat pa rin akong ligtas kami. Pinakamahalaga naman yung buhay lalo na ng mga bata,” she said. (I’m still thankful that I’m safe. What’s most most important is that we’re alive, especially my children.)

Mercy said she’s planning to return to her home today since the rains have subsided. But she said she’s expecting to go back to the evacuation site again since typhoon season is not yet over.

Parang pangalawang bahay na rin namin ito. Palagi kaminga dito,” Mercy concluded. (This is like our second home. We often stay here when there are typhoons.) – Rappler.com