'Buhay pa ko'? Pinay domestic worker recounts horrific experience in Beirut blast

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2020 12:51 PM | Updated as of Aug 08 2020 01:11 PM

A man sleeps outside in the Karantina district near the port in Beirut, on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. With miles of debris still covering the area around the epicenter of the blast at the port, officials said it would take time to determine the true number of victims. Diego Ibarra Sanchez, The New York Times

MANILA - A Filipino domestic worker in Lebanon believes she was given a second life after surviving the twin blasts that killed over 130 people and wounded 5,000 others in the country’s capital of Beirut earlier this week.

“Siguro nawalan ako ng malay. Nagising ako parang tahimik, tumayo ako, sabi ko sa sarili ko buhay pa ko? Nakita ko dugo umaagos, pinilit ko tumayo pero nanginginig katawan ko,” said Ursula Guira.

(Perhaps I lost consciousness. I woke up it was quiet, I stood up, I wasn't myself and checked am I still alive? I saw blood flowing, I wanted to stand up but I was trembling.)

Guira said her employer’s home is just a 5- to 10-minute walk away from the blast site. 

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In an interview on ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo, Guira said she had just entered the room of one of her employer’s children with windows fronting the port when she saw the first explosion.

“Lumapit ako sa bintana, binuksan ko bintana 'yun na ang sumunod, natalamsik ako, hindi ko na alam anong nangyari. Nang mga oras na 'yun, wala akong naramdamang kirot, sakit… walang kahit ano. Tumayo na lang ako nakita ko puro dugo na 'yung sahig, tumutulo nang tumutulo dugo galing sa mukha ko,” she recounted.

(I came close to the windows to open them then it followed, I was thrown off, I didn't know what happened next. That time I couldn't feel any ache, pain... nothing. I stood up and there was blood all over the floor, blood running down my face.)

She sustained wounds on her face and elbow and a cut on the lips from the glass windows that were shattered by the impact of the explosion. She found out that her employers were also injured.

“Pumunta ako sa kuwarto, gusto ko humingi ng tulong nagkakagulo nang oras na ‘yun, ‘di tumitigil dugo sa mukha ko. May isa akong cellphone sa kuwarto, naka-connect sa WiFi, nag-live ako para humingi ng tulong pero nagulat ako naging viral siya,” she said.

(I went to my room, that time it was chaotic, blood won't stop running down my face. I have one cellphone in the room, it was connected to WiFi, I went live to ask for help and was surprised it went viral.)

When she was able to contact her children, they advised her to immediately go to the hospital. But when she got there, the facility was full of people with more serious injuries so she decided to return home and tend to her own wounds, following instructions given online by one of her children who is a nursing student.
 
Among those killed in the explosions were 4 Filipinos. The Department of Foreign Affairs said 33 other Pinoys were injured in the incident.

Lebanese authorities said the massive explosion was triggered by a fire that ignited 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at Beirut's port.

Guira, from Kawit, Cavite has decided to come home. She already expressed her intention to be repatriated with the Philippine embassy, after working for the same employer for 9 years.

“Gusto ko nang umuwi. Natatakot ako kasi may bali-balitang may isa pang susunod. ‘Di ko na iintayin pa. Pinipilit ng amo ko na aksidente. Sabi ko ayoko nang magkaroon pa ng susunod na aksidente,” she said. 

(I'm scared. There are rumors another one might happen. I won't wait for that. My employer is saying it's an accident. But I said I don't want to experience another accident.)

Her 4 children also want her to come home following the incident. She said she would be joining those who would be repatriated on August 16.