Coming from our stressful day yesterday, it was a relief to finally lie down and sleep in a comfortable bed. We had to wake up everyday around 6:00 AM because we should follow our itinerary as much as we can. We went straight to our field office in Trento, Agusan del Sur to conduct to interviews with our colleague, to get a sense of what they exactly do in the field. We then drove for approximately three hours to visit a barangay in Cateel, Davao Oriental. The coastal areas of Davao Oriental, particularly Boston, Baganga and Cateel were severely devastated by Typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha) in December 2012. These towns were affected most especially by storm surges brought about by strong winds, enough to destroy some infrastructure and houses in their respective communities. As you can see from the photos below, the people of Barangay Maglahus in Cateel, Davao Oriental had to cross the river using a boat. There used to be a hanging bridge connecting the two areas, but it was sadly destroyed during the typhoon. We were lucky to be there when there was no rain, because apparently, it has been raining for about a week before we got there. Can you just imagine how strong the water current could get and how perilous it would be for the people and children to cross the river?
After waling for a few minutes, we arrived in the humble barangay hall of Maglahus, where we were welcomed by the barangay chairman and a couple of people. Rob and I wasted no time and proceeded with the interview of a beneficiary and a community organizer colleague of ours. Most of the time, I refuse to stay and just listen to the interview, because it was painful enough to hear what the community has been experiencing, whether during the devastation and the difficult of recovery efforts. Even if we are already halfway the year since the typhoon, it was apparent that the people are still having a hard time picking up from where they left off.
Anyway, I’ve been also on the lookout to getting pictures and B-roll for the video I will be editing once we get back in Manila, and it was really nice to see the kids of Brgy. Maglahus still having fun playing with each other. I was a bit disturbed, though, by some of the destroyed roofs, as well as the creaky G.I. roofing of their covered court. Each time a strong wind would blow, you can readily hear its ominous sound echoing in the area. Perhaps I was still traumatized by the sound of the strong winds on houses, since my experience with floods here in Manila, but I can sympathize with the same fear experienced by the community, each time a weather bulletin concerning heavy rains was announced.
From Cateel, we had a quick lunch in a carenderia/eatery. I could not remember the exact location, but it was about 50 meters away from the shore — hello Pacific Ocean! Rob kept on mentioning about this peculiar house, which was clearly destroyed by the typhoon. We were on the lookout for it and we had to stop our car just to get a good look of the bent metal and absorb how strong those winds could be
The drive to Baganga took a shorter time, and within an hour, we already arrived in an obviously school setting. Even before entering the premises, we could already hear throngs of children reciting something at the same time, and we were welcomed by a group of official looking group, which turned out to be teachers and principal of the school. We had to conduct several interviews, but still failed to get all shots because we were running out of time. It was a long drive going back to Davao City and coming all the way from Davao Oriental, it meant that it would be already dark before we reach our next hotel.
Compared to the previous day’s sojourn, it was a more relaxing stay in Housemates Dormitel. Maybe because I was totally knocked out yesterday because of lack of sleep during the late night flight, but I had a great time staying here. The Wi-Fi connection was not that good, though, so I had to stay in the corridor just to get a good signal to talk in Skype with Mon. It was a long but memorable day, and I brought me smiles and stores of the communities in both Cateel and Baganga. Every time we are on the road, I was just randomly thinking and assessing things that should be done, once we return in Manila. It was a very humbling experience to meet all of these people, and I could not wait to do something for them.
I am no longer part of CFSI and, of course, any thing I have written here does not reflect the organization’s views (i.e. all of these are my own opinion). However, I highly encourage you to take part in their activities and help them accomplish the work that they do. They really are the most wonderful and genuine people, I can vouch for that! Feel free to browse the “Mindanao Mission” series to look at some of the organization’s activities and some of the places they work in.
For more information, click the link below to help CFSI rebuild lives! 🙂