No more homes on Isla de Oro

from a report by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 26 2011 09:40 PM | Updated as of Dec 27 2011 05:40 AM

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines - Isla de Oro is no longer the crowded and noisy community it used to be.

On the sandbar at the mouth of the Cagayan River, where nearly 1,000 houses were destroyed by rampaging floodwaters, only the sound of roofs being dismantled can be heard on Monday.

One family built a shack on the sandbar after the storm.

"Para meron lang kaming mahigaan, kasi doon sa central ang daming tao, hindi kami makahiga doon, so dito kami nagbarong-barong. Pagkatapos paalisin naman kami," said Marina Estrada.

The local government wants it taken down.

President Benigno Aquino himself does not want residents in danger zones like Isla de Oro to return to their homes.

For Jimmy Bermudo, his experience at the height of tropical storm Sendong was enough to make him leave for good.

"Pati sa bahay nakikipaghabulan kami, lipat kami nang lipat. Pag hindi ka lumipat naaalis din ang bahay mo, naaanod din sa baha," he said. "Hindi na talaga [babalik]. Kahit libre, pabalikin kami nang libre, hindi na talaga."

Other residents are beginning to accept that they can no longer live again in a place experts have said is uninhabitable.

For now, all they want is to be able to recover and make use of some of their belongings that the floods swept away.

Because of the stench, many bodies of those who died in the flood are believed to be still underneath the destroyed houses.

Aside from trying to recover their possessions, residents are also preparing to find more remains of those who perished.

Jula Lauron said one of her siblings is still missing. "Para malibing siya, kaya hinahanap namin hanggang ngayon siya," Lauron said.

City Mayor Vicente Emano said residents of Isla de Oro and other danger zones will be relocated to Calaanan outside the city proper.

"I have a resettlement area of about 6 hectares and we hope to transfer them there. We're clearing the area,"he said. "The the truth is that I've asked them na huwag doon pero ayaw nila because they've been there for a very long time."

Emano added that a Filipino-Chinese organization offered to build 300 houses for free in the relocation site.

Some also offered to donate tents.

However, Emano said more help is needed for tens of thousands of families who lost their homes and will never be allowed to go back to where they came from. - ANC