Tales of Woe from Those Who Had it Worse

MANILA – Aside from killing them and displacing them from their homes and exposing them to illness, tropical storm Ondoy dealt poor Filipino families severe blows that could make their lives in the months ahead much more difficult. (Read sidebar: Ondoy Pushes Tens of Thousands of Families Into Severe Difficulty, Long-Term Poverty)

Take the case of Gina Judilla, a 37-year-old mother of six, one of whom ended up sick after drinking floodwater and eating spoiled egg from the relief goods that she received. Albert, eight years old, was rushed to a private hospital because the public hospital in Napico, a poor community in Manggahan, Pasig City, was still submerged in floodwater last Monday.

Although Albert has since been treated, Judilla’s problem now is how to settle the 4,000 peso hospital bill so she can bring her son home. She only managed to ask a few hundreds from relatives. “I don’t know what to do now,” she said. (As of Friday afternoon, Judilla still needs the money. Those who want to help may get in touch with us.)

Rebecca Saing’s family is just one of the 500 families in Sitio San Isidro, Barangay Bagong Pag-asa, in Quezon City, affected by Ondoy. At least 150 families were recorded by barangay officials as “heavily affected,” three homes were completely destroyed, and most families lost household things.

Saing lost most of their kitchenware and some of their clothes, including her children’s school uniforms and shoes. “In the meantime, they will have to go to their school wearing civilian clothes but we still have to buy them uniforms.”

She is also worried because some of the gadgets used by her husband for work were destroyed by the floodwater. “Chances are, my husband would have to pay the company,” Saing said. She estimated that it would be roughly P100,000 – certainly a big amount for a family that earns a meager income of P7,000 monthly.

Evangeline Perdito, a mother of six, faces the same predicament. Her home – a shanty built on the underside of the Cambridge bridge in West Kamias, Quezon City — was washed away by the creek below. These days, all she does is look for scrap woods to rebuild their home. Twenty other families under the bridge suffered the same fate.

Lani Mendoza of the San Isidro Neighborhood Association told Bulatlat that the residents of Sitio San Isidro are used to floods since they live near a creek. But, she said, it was the first time that something this disastrous happened.

“What makes their situation worse is that they cannot ask the government to look into their situation. They would most likely be blamed for what they are going through,” Mendoza said. The residents in Sitio San Isidro are informal settlers and there are plans to demolish them to give way to the Quezon City Commercial Business District project.

But Mendoza said the residents did not choose to live near the creek. “The government has no concrete plans for the urban poor, especially to their housing projects. Their basic social services projects have failed,”

The family of Loreta Guadorio of North Fairview, also in Quezon City, has been living along the river banks because they had no choice. She said they could not afford to rent a decent house because her husband was not earning enough. But now, they have lost the only home they had and it would be very hard, she said, to start all over again. Her husband lost his job only two weeks ago.

Residents of Tatalon, the most populous district of Quezon City, also suffered an unprecedented severe flooding, with floodwaters going up to an estimated 7 feet or more. Worse, a fire broke out at the same time, burning down dozens of houses. (Read sidebar: In Tatalon, Hell and High Water)

These days, all one can see in that part of Tatalon are huge mounds of burned wood and belongings blocking some of the streets. In the interiors of the district, residents tried to salvage whatever they could. “It will take a long while for us to recover from this,” Jun Merioles, one of the residents said. (Reporting by Janess Ann J. Ellao, Marya Salamat and Carlos H. Conde / bulatlat.com)

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