In Davao del Sur, only few visit the dead after the earthquake
DAVAO DEL SUR, Philippines – It was already past 2 pm Friday, November 1, but Amie Remotigue had barely sold any flower.
The 36-year old flower and candle vendor said she had only sold so much candles as well.
It was unlike past observations of All Saints' Day in the town of Magsaysay, which serves as Davao del Sur's border with Tulunan, North Cotabato, the epicenter of this week's earthquake that has killed dozens of people, damaged buildings and roads, cut off power and water supplies, and caused an unexpected shift in residents' lives.
“Today is unlike the past years. While a large number of people normally flocked here every November 2, I made a considerable amount every November 1 selling candles and flowers,” Remotigue said.
Speaking to Rappler at her makeshift store just beside the road at the public cemetery here, Remotigue said she had expected a decent sales today.
“But I guess that will not happen. There are just a few people around and no one seems to be coming anymore,” she added.
Magsaysay suffered huge damage from the series of strong quakes that started on October 16. Tulunan was the epicenter of all the quakes, being host to a newly-discovered fault line that extends as far as Makilala in Cotabato on the east and Davao del Sur on the south.
At least 6 people were killed here since, the latest being a 15-year-old student of the Kasuga National High School who was pinned to death by falling debris.
At least 958 families, or about 3,000 people, have fled their homes due to the series of quakes.
Arman Ebol, a resident of Barangay New Ilocos here, said his neighbors might not be keen on visiting their dead this year.
“Most of them are quite depressed because of what happened to their houses. My house was heavily damaged too, but visiting my parents has been a tradition for us. So we came even if we are wary of more earthquakes,” he said.
At the side of the cemetery (the public cemetery is divided into two by the municipal road) where the Ebols are located, there are only less than 20 people present.
Selma, Ebol's wife, said that, in previous years, people would already visit the graves of their departed love ones as early as October 31.
“But today, it's as if the dead had maintained their peace,” Selma said in the vernacular.
Like her husband, Selma said she also feared being caught by strong tremor while away from their village.
“But here, at the cemetery, I feel quite comfortable. There are practically no structure that would be damaged in the event of a strong quake,” she said.
Mario Libocan, a member of the town's Civil Security Unit who was assigned to maintain order at the public cemetery, said he did not expect people to flock here on Saturday, November 2, either.
“I have spoken with some neighbors and they told me they might be able to come. Others would only come to light candles and then will immediately go home to their tents,” he said.
Anthony Allada, the town information officer, said people were now more concerned about their situation – limited food and water, and having to temporarily stay in tents – than going to the cemetery.
“We expected that only a few people would be going to the cemetery. There are a lot of people needing help,” he said.
Ebol said for those who have decided not to visit their dead love ones, they were hoping that they would be forgiven.
“That was what they told me when I asked them if they are coming. They said the dead would understand,” he added. – Rappler.com