|The weather was calm like this when I left Cantilan back to San Miguel Surigao del Sur|
The Super Typhoon Pablo was supposedly to hit directly the province of Surigao del Sur last Dec 3 as projected by the PAGASA but it was a blessing for us that our poor and geo hazard land was spared from total devastation. We were all anticipating worst cases and preparing ourselves to evacuate if the situation gets uglier. The Municipality of San Miguel has a bowl shaped topography serving as a catch basin of rivers and springs on the enclosed wide valley.With an overnight heavy rain pour, the land gets flooded as what we are experiencing every December to January.
I just came from a bonding moment with travel bloggers in Cantilan when I heard the news about the incoming typhoon. I hurried back to our staff house and set everything prepared for the incoming bad weather. We had our battery charged and made sure we have an ample stock of supplies, food and water. This was the very first time that we were alarmed by the incoming natural phenomenon in the area, as the place has never been visited by typhoon since I migrated in San Miguel.
|Tired and stressed from a sleepless night when Pablo striked|
We waited for hours and we can’t even sleep during the night, vigilant on the possibilities that the rain would go heavier and the wind would yield strength and become stronger. We heard the howling of the wind but it was tolerable as if it was the regular heavy rains in December.
The next morning, we scouted the barangay and we noticed some trees fell but the damages were minimal. We have no electricity, no water and even cell phone signals were unavailable. We were totally isolated and we don’t know what happened to other nearby places. The transportation was partially paralyzed as the road became muddy, difficult for smaller vehicles to cross.
We were very thankful that it did not rain much or else we could have experienced what we are all afraid of-- landslides and flash floods as some portions of the mountains are already denuded due to logging activities and more than a dozen of small scale mining operations.
|Landslides on the sides of the road in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur after the typhoon.|
There were no supplies in the local market as goods are delivered from Davao City and the nearest possible emergency source is Tandag, two hours away from our place. The palays were all still wet due to fresh harvest and can’t be cooked yet or sold to others. Farms were destroyed and rivers are silted and general supply of food was scarce that day.
|Locals are doing their best to recover immediately from the calamity|
Locals were taking all the necessary actions to survive the day by picking up wood sticks on the road to cook unripe banana or some cassava gathered from ravaged little farms. Some even did the unthinkable by poaching wildlife, birds, frogs and even snakes in the remaining forest of San Miguel.
I was sipping my warm coffee outside our staff house with my dog Happy on my side, making a rapid assessment of the damages in our town, when suddenly I saw two women carrying a slaughtered and chopped reticulated python on their hands.
|Roads eroded in San Miguel|
I am an environmental specialist and I am bound to report such activities to authorities. I ran towards the local holding the chopped giant python with a diameter of my legs and at least 10-15 feet long in length. It has a bright color indicating it was freshly poached and very healthy thriving in its habitat. I asked the woman where they got the snake and told me they poached it near the ‘Suba’ –river.
They said that their house got wiped out by the river and have nothing left for them so they are selling the snake in exchange to buy food for their whole family. As I took my camera out to take a picture of them and they got scared as they thought I would report them to the police.
The woman yelled “Hala sige kodakan mo ko (picture). Kabalo ko bawal ini , ipadakop mo ako sa polis?” while holding a strong grip on her daughter's hand. The woman knew what they did was illegal, poaching such wildlife, but they know no other option to survive the recent calamity that hit their lives.
|Reticulated python poached and chopped sold for Php 100.00|
I can see in their faces the struggles they’re experiencing and I have opted not to take picture of their faces and let them run away with their chopped python being sold for P100 a kilo. I made myself blind that day allowing locals to consume any available wild life resources and be more human to sympathize with the people who have suffered from the ravaging impact of typhoon Pablo.
Two days after the electricity resumed and watching the news, my heart broke into pieces upon knowing that our nearby provinces Compostela and Davao Oriental were hit dramatically with hundreds of lives taken and communities almost wiped out from the map of the province. Thousands are homeless and billion pesos of agricultural lands and products swept down by the raging winds and flash floods. The impact of this typhoon is a historical record as these parts of Mindanao have never been hit by such calamity other than tsunami that happened decades ago.
I assume most of you who were blessed spared from the typhoon, have learned about our brothers and sisters in the eastern side of Mindanao and they needed your helping hands. I hope you could lend your assistance to help the traumatized people of Davao Region and pray for the souls of the hundreds of people who have perished from the unexpected calamity. Salamater mga kaibigan (thank you)