By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Manila Standard Today
Many victims of last month’s flooding in Bulacan have only their shirts on their backs as their “prized possession.”
With their clothes soaked in mud, they have painstakingly begun to rebuild and carry on with their lives.
Street sweeper Marilou Trinidad, 65, has a sad story to tell during an interview with Senator Bongbong Marcos who gave gifts to mark his 55th birthday anniversary.
Trinidad says that until now, she has been ‘picking up the pieces from the fragments ‘left by habagat’s intense rain and severe flooding.
“We are still removing mud from our clothes… from our pillows. We are still fixing everything, the house. The roof leaks every time it rains,” related Trinidad.
After losing everything to the flood, Aling Malou said she does not know where to begin.
“We have no money to repair the house or buy new clothes. What we’re getting from sweeping the streets are just enough to buy food,” said Aling Malou whose husband, Manuel, 58, also cleans the streets for a living.
She was also saddened from losing a small television set and the DVD, which they were able to buy from long years of sweeping dirt.
“Iyon na nga lang ang libangan naming mag-asawa, nawala pa,” lamented Aling Malou who said their house literally went under water.
Fifty-year old Yolanda Francisco, another streetsweeper, shared the sentiments of Trinidad, her neighbor in Brgy. Banga.
While their house has a second floor, Francisco said she and her husband sleep on the ground floor together with their other children and their own families. Actually, she said they have seven children who also stay with them despite being married.
All five families were “packed like sardines” in the Francisco household in Sitio Suloc, Brgy. Banga.
She recalled being rousing from sleep by the floods. “I woke up already soaked in water. The floodwater immediately mounted until it reached the second floor,” Trinidad said.
She, her husband and the rest of the family sought refuge to a nearby vacant building together with their neighbors.
Nelia Nasareta, 37, told MST Sunday, that you can’t really think of saving your valuables when disaster strikes.
“Your first instinct is to run for your life. And that’s what we did. We gathered our three children and went to higher ground. We were brought to the Word of Truth building where we stayed until the water subsided a week later.
After returning home, there were only clothes left, and a few pieces of furnitures.
Teresita Aquino, 76, a widow, remembered her apo rushed to her to join others in fleeing to the evacuation center when the waters suddenly grew high. “Lampas tao na,” she said.
When they went to the street, she saw the over-flowing flood and the rush of mud.
“Mga damit na lang ang napakinabangan namin. Nilabhan na lang. Sira lahat,” she said.
Julie Belo, 51, said only their clothes were left useful after the neck-deep water inside their house.
Trinidad, Francisco, Aquino and Belo belong to the 1,000 beneficiaries of first-even gift-giving activity of Marcos on his birthday, held at the gymnasium of Banga Elementary School in Brgy. Banga.
Cecilio Contreras, a member of the Barangay Justice in Brgy. Banga, told MST the beneficiaries were chosen from among the victims of the recent ‘habagat’. He said they were given bags of goods consisting of rice, grocery items, an unused blanket and mat.
Marcos admitted it was the first-time he celebrated his birthday giving gifts to the needy.
“I thought of gift-giving to celebrate my birthday. So I asked them who will be my beneficiaries. And I was informed there were areas where some of the flood victims haven’t returned to their homes yet. So I decided to see them,” said Marcos.
At his age, the only son and namesake of the late president said he could no longer ask for more with all the blessings in his life.
People at the school gymnasium who lined up to get a bag of goods were delighted to see the young Marcos. As majority of them were still reeling from the devastation inflicted by the monsoon rains, the sight of ‘donations’ gave them hope.