ITBAYAT, Batanes - The damage caused by a series of quakes that rocked Batanes on Saturday has risen to P282 million, its governor said Tuesday.
Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco said this as Batanes was placed under a state of calamity following the temblors that killed 9 people and injured some 100 more.
The quakes, the strongest at magnitude 5.9, destroyed houses and schools and damaged a hospital and a church, among others.
Of the 953 houses affected by the quakes, 185 totally collapsed, while 81 need repair, rehabilitation and retrofitting before they could be occupied. A total of 687 houses were, meanwhile, deemed safe for occupancy by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Cayco said residents who could not go back to their houses yet would be given construction materials so they could set up a temporary shelter within their own lots.
“Kasi ang lote nila may space, dun na gagawin, kung sa plaza mahirap walang comfort room na maayos, magkakasakit din sila.” Cayco said.
(Their lots have space, [the shelters] will be constructed there. If it's built at the plaza there won't be any decent comfort room, they may also catch illnesses.)
Gina Valiente and her husband, whose 13-year-old daughter Mary Rose died when their house collapsed, on Tuesday went back to see where it all happened.
They were emotional to once again look at the site where they lost their daughter.
“Pasensiyahan niyo kami kasi wala kami nagawa sa kaniya, saan man siya naroon sana masaya siya at lagi niyang tandaan mahal na mahal namin siya," she said.
(Forgive us because we could not do anything to save her. Wherever she is, I hope she's happy and will always remember that we love her.)
“Naipit ako hindi ko mailigtas, baldado isang kamay ko, umiyak na lang ako sa itaas wala akong nagawa eh," her husband Melchor said.
(I was crushed, I could not save her. One of my arms is disabled, I cried because I could not do anything.)
Melchor said he went through the rubble with no idea what to do next with his life after losing his daughter and a grandchild in the earthquake.
“Hindi pa ako nakaano, parang wala pa akong magandang maisip na gawin kung papaano kami kasi parang natrauma ako eh," he said.
(I could not think of anything that I could do to help our situation because we were traumatized.)
Also among those who died in the quake was Januard Mina, one of the governor's drivers.
“Nalulungkot ako talaga, ang lakas lakas ng katawan nun, di ko akalain mamatay pero sa lindol, wala kang kalaban-laban,” Cayco said.
(I'm really sad, he was very strong, I never thought he would die so soon but you cannot really do anything against an earthquake.)
Mina’s mother Juliet could not help but still feel the pain upon receiving the cash assistance worth P25,000 for families of the fatalities. Government, meanwhile, allotted P5,000 for the injured.
“Mahirap, siya lang tumutulong sa amin. Hindi ako pumupunta sa bukid, siya ang tumutulong sa asawa ko gumawa sa amin," she said.
(It's hard, he was the only one helping us. I don't go to the fields, he's the one who helped my husband at the farm.)
IVATAN HOUSES TO BE REBUILT WITH STEEL AND CEMENT
Cayco admitted that houses in the province should be remodeled and reconstructed so they would withstand not only super typhoons but also earthquakes.
At the same time, they want to stay true to the architecture of the Ivatan houses because it draws local and international tourists, she added.
“Plano namin itatayo na kaparehas ang hitsura bago nasira, pero lalagyan na ng bakal at semento na ang gagamitin, kasi lime lang ginamit dun, pero bato-bato pa rin ang gagamitin, ” she said.
(We plan to reconstruct buildings with the same design but we will put steel reinforcement and cement, because the old ones just use lime, but we will still use stones.)
The governor admitted there was a lack of foresight on the part of residents and government officials on the structural integrity of houses made of limestones given their experience in a quake 19 years ago.
“Mas malakas pa intensity noong 2000 kaysa ngayon pero mas marami nasira, so mga government officials hindi nakita 'yan, palaging iniisip na very resilient kami, pero sa bagyo lang pala hindi sa lindol,” Cayco said.
(An earthquake in 2000 had a stronger magnitude but a lot more buildings were damaged now. Government officials did not expect it, they always think we're resilient, but it turns out only to storms, not earthquakes.)
The local government also met Tuesday to discuss the possibility of opening classes for students using a makeshift classroom since schools in Itbayat were also destroyed.
The challenge now is where to get enough construction materials to rehabilitate Itbayat and how to transport them since travel is highly dependent on sea and air conditions.
“Yero, kahoy, atsaka pako, 'yan ho ang kailangan na ngayon,” Cayco said.
(We need sheets of galvanized iron, wood, nails.)