2,000 families in quake-hit Davao del Sur town to spend Christmas in tents

Hernel Tocmo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2019 12:01 PM

An evacuee tidies up a tent where her family had been staying since October, following a series of quakes in Mindanao. ABS-CBN News

MAGSAYSAY — Sally Aying, 59, tears up at the prospect of spending Christmas packed in a tent with 6 of her children and grandchildren without steady water and power supply after 3 quakes destroyed their home in this Davao Del Sur town. 

The Ayings are among some 2,000 families who will celebrate the holidays in 10 evacuation centers across Magsaysay, as authorities search for a safe relocation site and funds to buy land and build houses, Mayor Arthur Davin said Wednesday. 

Only half of the evacuees will be relocated by mid-2020 to houses funded and designed by the National Housing Authority, he said. 

Floods swamp the tents whenever the rain is heavy and many evacuees make do with canned goods and noodles.

"Our situation is so sad, I want to cry. I want to go home," she told ABS-CBN News in the local dialect. 

The 3 Mindanao quakes in October, whose magnitudes all measured above 6, left at least 28 dead and sent some 28,000 people to evacuation centers, said the national disaster agency. 

Students of the Tagaytay Elementary School study under mango trees in Magsaysay, Davao Del Sur. ABS-CBN News

Classes have resumed in some Magsaysay schools, like the Tagaytay Elementary School, where students are taught under mango trees, away from quake-cracked rooms. 

A Christmas party will be held for the students without the traditional gift exchange, authorities said. 

The Magsaysay government, meanwhile, will bring gifts to quake survivors instead of having a Christmas party, said Davin.