Pinoy survivors living on Haiti streets

Posted at | Updated as of 01/18/10 11:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Many Filipinos who survived a magnitude 7.0 quake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti have been sleeping on the streets for fear that aftershocks might further undermine their homes, one of the Filipino quake survivors said Monday.

Godofredo Edquiban, a casino manager living in Petionville, Port-au-Prince for the past 10 years, said groups of Filipinos, numbering 20 to 40, are sleeping on the streets after the massive quake damaged their homes. 

"Some of the Filipinos are sleeping outside because they are afraid to go inside after their houses were damaged. I really hope that they help us because we have groups of 20, 30 and 40 Filipinos living outside," Edquiban said in an ANC "Dateline Philippines interview.

He said food and safety remain the biggest concerns of the Filipino community in Port-au-Prince amid reports that locals have been looting homes that were left undamaged in the quake. He added that he is constant coordination with Lt. Col. Lope Dagoy, commander of the 172-strong Philippine peacekeeping contingent in Haiti.

"Talaga pong nakakatakot ang nakikita sa labas ngayon. Nakakatakot mag-travel dahil yung mga panahon noon matapos nung earthquake at kinabukasan, hinaharang ng mga locals, ng mga Haitians ang mga truck para dalhin ang kanilang mga kamag-anak sa hospital," he said.

He added: "Walang looting pero iba ang mentality ng mga locals dito."

Edquiban said his house was relatively undamaged in the quake, noting that most of the damage happened at the lower portion of the city.

He said he is offering his home to Philippine Ambassador to Cuba MacArthur Corsina who is scheduled to arrive in the city on Tuesday.

He also said he will be sending his family to the Dominican Republic along with other Filipino survivors of the quake. Aside from himself, Edquiban has five other family members including his wife, 2 kids, and 2 in-laws.

Food supplies dwindle

About 35 Filipino survivors of the Haiti quake on Sunday said they only have enough food to last for 3-4 days.

"Meron kaming mga pagkain na natira noon before the earthquake dito sa Haiti, and then kanina sa isang kasama namin na nagtatrabaho sa depot na nagtatrabaho sa stockan ng mga karne at bigas [nagdala ng pagkain]," Henry Riobuya said. "Nakakapagluto kami pero hindi namin matiyak kung hanggang kailan 'yun."

"Sa tantya ko, mga 3 days or 4 days ang maximum wala na siguro," he said.

Luckily, he said that no one is getting sick, and all of them have spoken to their families back home.

Riobuya said it is difficult to walk on the streets, with the stench of decaying dead bodies filling the air. He added that food is running out, and the threat of looting is real.

Because of the disintegrating situation in the country, Riobuya said that Filipinos in Port-au-Prince are scheduled to meet Monday local time to talk about what to do next in light of the disaster in the country.

"Hindi pa tapos [ang] pinag-uusapan. Maaring bukas magtipun-tipon muli ang mga Pilipino dito sa Haiti, na mag-usap kung ano ang dapat gawin namin," he said.

He said that he has talked with Honorary Philippine Consul Cecille Grant, who is also his boss, about possible plans to move the Filipinos to neighboring Dominican Republic.

"Ang sabi niya sa akin maaari kaming mag-move papuntang Dominican Republic, pero wala pa ring tentative schedule kaya ‘yon ang pag-uusapan namin bukas," he said.

"Sa napagusapan namin kanina baka maaari kaming papuntahin ng Sto. Domingo (the capital of the Dominican Republic), kasi kung dito parang mahirap kung sunduin kami ng airlines kasi iyong airport ay busy para sa mga ibang bagay," he added.