By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — “It came unexpected, like a thief in the night. For a few minutes, a thick layer of landslide roaring down swept our village, and instantly claimed the lives of 35 residents.” That is how a survivor described, in Kankanaey, the worst landslide that hit Sitio (sub-village) Bulala of Barangay (village) Kayan East in Tadian, Mountain Province.
Erlina D. Trinidad, 15 years old, was earlier hesitant to tell her story. She tried not to remember the incident, which for her was a nightmare. It claimed the lives of her villagers, including her parents, a brother, and a sister. More so, she does not like to remember the incident – which left lifetime scars on her person (her right foot above her ankle was amputated).
On her hospital bed at the Baguio General Hospital, she described that evening of Oct. 8. It was raining hard and power was out. Her father and mother, brother Jonjon, sister Vanessa, and she went to bed early. A coronation activity was scheduled that night but it failed to push through due to the storm.
Landslides covered their house in a minute
At past six in the evening, she heard a murmuring sound coming from the mountain toward their house. A landslide immediately hit their house. Realizing what had happened, she shouted for help. She knew that her brother and sister and their parents were covered by the avalanche.
A man she identified as Gumangan carried and took her a few meters from where she was found. Gumangan went back to look for other victims. As the debris moved down, Erlina was included and carried down too. Unable to stand up, she crawled but was able to move a little. She used her hand to take liquid that she can use to clear her eyes, which were covered with mud. As debris continued to move down, she used her hands to try to protect her head, particularly from rolling stones. She was gradually being covered with mud and stone when her uncle Bogs Bantasan found her. She was immediately brought to the Barangay Hall where she was bathed.
Erlina was subsequently brought by her brother Richard (who at the time had been out of the house, selling balut, and had only been notified of what happened) to the Luis Hora General Hospital.
Found to have sustained major injuries, she was recommended for transfer to Baguio City. But the Halsema Road, linking Mountain Province and Benguet, was closed, and it was only by chopper that Erlina could be brought to Baguio. On her second day at the Hora Hospital, local officials arranged for a chopper to land in Tadian and take her to Baguio.
But she was instead brought to Bontoc Hospital on the next day, and it was from there that the chopper picked her up to be flown to the Baguio General Hospital on Oct. 12.
Erlina’s right leg was amputated on Oct. 16 following a few days of observation. She felt demoralized, particularly when she heard from her sister Neneng about the fate of their parents, their brother Jonjon and sister Vanessa. But she was cheered up by her relatives who said, “Maybe God gave you a mission.”
She tried to overcome her new situation. Maybe it is a new life, she thinks, as she is luckier than their fellow villagers. One of their fellow villagers, 33-year-old Lecio Gao-ay who is also their school principal, died with his wife and two children. Aside from the lives lost due to the landslides, 18 houses were totally destroyed while five were partially destroyed from the total 32 houses in the sitio.
Neneng said Erlina would surely be able to walk again with an artificial leg. The equipment, however, would cost some P20,000, based on her doctors’ estimates.
Erlina has also incurred a hip injury. Neneng shared that an operation will be performed after what is left of Erlina’s right leg heals.
Right now, Neneng says, finances are badly needed for Erlina’s medication. The Piperacillin Sodium (Tazobactam Sodium) of which Erlina needs an injection every eight hours ran out at the BGH on Oct. 16. It costs P1,800 at BGH and is more expensive at other outlets.
Erlina, a graduating student at the Holy Rosary High School of Kayan, Tadian, will be undergoing therapy after the hip operation.
For any support, you can visit her at the Baguio General Hospital. Or you can channel the support through her sister, Neneng Trinidad Echanis. (Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat)