Taal evacuees settle in shelters with help from each other

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 15 2020 09:57 AM

Evacuees settle for the night at the Bauan Technical High School in Batangas City, Jan. 14, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

BAUAN, Batangas -- Plucked from her home due to the eruption of Taal Volcano, 79-year-old Teresita Agoncillo said she settled into a temporary shelter here, thanks to fellow evacuees who continuously checked up on her.

Agoncillo is one of 3,900 people who are temporarily housed at the Bauan Tech High School or BTHS as authorities monitor Taal for a possible "hazardous" eruption.

"Lahat po ng mga kasama ko dito kasundo namin... Kinakamusta din nila ako. Sasabihin, 'okay ka ba, Lola?'" she told ABS-CBN News, seated in front of a classroom.

(Everyone here, we get along. They always ask me how I'm doing.)

Agoncillo fled Lemery town only with her granddaughter, whose parents work abroad.

Evacuees stay at the Bauan Technical Highschool house evacuation site in Batangas province. January 14, 2020. Philippine Volcanology authorities has kept Alert level 4 as they monitor the volcanoes eruption signs. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Another evacuee from Lemery, 20-year-old Jenny dela Luna, came to the shelter with her parents and 10 siblings. She said the shelter had enough food, water and medicine.

"Tulungan po din dito, kahit maliit yung naibibigay (We help each other, even with the little things)," she said, adding her only concern was the restrooms.

Since the evacuations began on Monday, as many as 100 evacuees share 1 restroom. School officials said at least 106 classrooms in BTHS were used by the local Bauan government for evacuees. As many as 65 people were assigned in a classroom.

A teacher at BTHS, Rona Balboa, said there was 1 ruckus so far, due to misunderstanding on the distribution of relief supplies.

"Aside from that, wala naman. Volunteer o evacuee, nagtutulungan, kami (There's been none ever since. Volunteers and evacuees, we help each other)," she said.

Balboa said BTHS would continue to house evacuees as long as necessary: "Tuloy lang kami (We press on)."