MAKILALA, Cotabato - Quake-hit residents staying outside evacuation centers here were seen begging for help along the town's main highway Saturday, two days since a third major quake rattled Mindanao in 16 days.
They carried with them makeshift placards that read: "Help. Food. Water. Medicine."
"Please. Rice. Water. Tent," other signs written in Filipino read.
Yet another sign was written in the vernacular saying: "Even just a little help."
The residents waved at every passing car hoping to get some help. Children shouted at vehicles as they passed, pleading for aid.
“Please po tulungan niyo po kami. Kung sino may puso, tingnan niyo na lang po kalagayan ng bawat isa na nandito ngayon,” said Melanie Inoc, a resident of Old Bulatukan in this town.
(Please help us. Whoever has a heart, just look at our situation here.)
“Nasira na bahay namin. Wala na kami makain. Mga anak ko wala na makain. Kailangan namin bigas, trapal para may masilungan kami kapag umuulan,” said Myra Igienon, another resident who lost her home to the series of powerful quakes that jolted parts of Mindanao in October.
(Our house was destroyed. We have nothing to eat. My children have nothing to eat. We need rice, tarpaulins for shelter when it rains.)
The number of displaced Mindanao residents who chose not to stay in evacuation centers has risen to 6,850 as of 6 a.m. Saturday, according to a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) report.
Some 20,635 others are taking shelter in evacuation areas across Mindanao, the report said.
Several vehicles were kind enough to stop and give bread, money, or even pieces of cup noodles to the victims of the earthquake begging on the roadside. It was not clear why the residents did not have access to government aid.
A businessman from Digos City made an effort to pack some relief goods for affected residents and shared them to those begging on the streets.
“Sa mga gustong tumulong, sana tulungan natin sila,” said businessman Mark Salahog.
(To those who want to help, I hope you can extend help.)
Another resident Edith Caduaya also gave ready to eat meals to the residents, even consoling the quake victims and telling them to stay strong in the midst of a difficult life in this disaster.
“Nadaan ko sila there is no way but to provide kahit pakaunti-kaunti. Government intervention is not enough, three series of earthquakes sobra na 'yun.” Caduaya said.
(When you pass by them, you can do nothing but provide help even little by little. Government intervention is not enough, a series of three earthquakes is just too much.)
Powerful quakes shook Mindanao in less than three weeks last month: a magnitude 6.3 on Oct. 16, magnitude 6.6 on Oct. 29, and magnitude 6.5 on Oct. 31.
The quakes affected large parts of Mindanao, each time weakening structures, with several giving way in the latest temblor. As of Saturday, the NDRRMC recorded 17 dead from the latter two quakes, 327 hurt, and two missing.
On Friday, a Makilala local official pleaded for help, saying their calamity funds had been depleted following response to earlier quakes.
“We need tarps (or tents) and food. We are really in need of food because the calamity fund of the municipality is depleted,” said
Makilala Vice Mayor Ryan Tabanay.
- with reports from Kristine Sabillo and Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News