Disaster relief in Mindanao after the Typhoon Pablo

Report from Major Joel Ceneciro

Divisional commander Mindanao Island Division

The relief distribution team from the divisional headquarters has just arrived General Santos couple of minutes ago from Baganga.It was just a fantastic and very successful relief distribution in Baganga, Davao Oriental.

We have seen the true picture of what really happened in that particular area. I was told that due to political reasons the true scenario of this place remained unfold. Many houses were broken down, others were ripped off their roofs by the strong winds that hit the area.

No one was spared for damages in this fatal catastrophe. Coconut trees which are an important part of the livelihood were uprooted, electric posts fallen or cut in halves. But people have desperately commented that they will start their lives here again. However, it will take 10 years to recover what has been lost.

It was December 04, 2012, at 2:00 AM, the typhoon Pablo started to hit Davao Oriental with a very strong wind which grew fiercer every hour up to 6:00, then ceased at 7:00 in the morning.

Interview with some of the people in Baganga, revealed the exact scenario of the past dreadful catastrophe. In the worst hour, while still was very dark due to power failure, they have to lie on the ground inside their respective houses. Some of them had to take refuge in their bathrooms because the wind was so strong that they felt that it could carry them upwards. They suspected it to be a strong tornado. They could not go outside because was dark and a lot of objects were flying around. There were records of deaths because of trees falling on people or hit by hard objects.

The aftermath is very much scary. All of them lose hope as they witness the unexpected groaning tragedy - seeing their houses in ruin - realizing that they need to start all over again. Even worse is that the main source of their income - coconut trees - was broken down. Trees have fallen everywhere!

The majority of the population is now starving. They need to start rebuilding their houses but they have no source of income. They might have saved some money but how long will it last and they have to clear up scattered mess everywhere.

Our initial relief has helped more than 500 few famish families. The distribution was held in a secured compound because the government facilities, schools and covered court are damaged. Some of our volunteers was deployed and distributed tickets to selected families. People are very much happy and surprised to received food relief such as rice, sardines, corn beefs, and noodles.

On December 11, 2012, six volunteer officers, one soldier, with 7 lawyers, 9 employees of hall of justice with college students and inmates of the town of Mati, Davao Oriental packed the goods. The Governor of Davao Oriental provided a 10 wheeler dump truck to transport the goods to the broken bridge - the set point. This long bridge close to Baganga, was damaged due to the strong water current accompanied by lots of huge illegal logging debris. The transfer of the goods was very difficult. 10 civilian volunteers, 5 military soldiers, 7 policemen, 13 inmates from other jail, helps transfer the goods over the river one pack at a time on improvised floats. Then it had to be carrier up the riverbed and reload it to another dump truck provided by the Department of Public Work and Highways (DPWH) and a 6 X 6 military truck.

The DPWH is now working out for a temporary bridge so that vehicles can have access and normalize transportation of goods to the town of Baganga.


Major Ceneciro has posted the following clips from Youtube with pictures from the disaster area.