As one of the last benificaries the sister of my wife got one of the houses of a relocation site in Upper Pagatpat, Cagayan de Oro City, almost 4 years after the SENDONG castastrophe.
It was a good excuse for me to come along to have a look how a relocation site looks here in the Philippines.
On the other side of the hill is under construction a large meeting hall and maybe an evacuation center in the future.
We have reached the house, a new home to be of the sister of my wife. Some of the glasses from the windows have been stolen, others have been damaged. The broken glass is the evidence in front of the house. Later when I talk to some people, they say, plenty thiefs around, things get stolen everyday.
One-room-houses, built with a metal frame and very thin concrete wakls. A much smaller toilette has also be to used as shower room.
This is the view one gets when he comes out of the backdoor and having a look to the left and then to the right. A neighbor is already extending his house
Now it’s time for me to have a look around the whole place. Not one street is asphalted or made of concrete. The houses don’t have a foundation and are built just on concrete panel. The walls of many houses show cracks. The cracks have been repaired. The houses have been painted on three sides but not on their backsides. OK, these houses are given for free to the flood victims, but I’m not sure it’s enough of the help.
The whole place has up to now no electricity and no running water connections. People say, the city administration has applied for it.
I arrive at the perimeter of this relocation site. I meet a man working on his own extention for a little sari-sari-store. The store is temporarily located just in front of the house. Also other new homeowners trying to earn a little on the side with a little store.
I want to take a picture of him without the mashed wires between us, and he inivites me to come around. Here he has another extention in progress, a kitchen. He invites me inside his house and I get shocked.
The only furnishing is a hospital bed with a man attached to tubes in it. He sees the big questionmarks in my face. A little table and chair. Some sleeping mats are rolled up for the daytime.
It’s his cousin. They brought him here with them, when they moved into their new home here.
Now it’s the time to indruduce each other. I have met Luis Sultan and his wife Marlyn. The couple is taking care of their cousin on a 24/7 basis. He needs attention all the time. At the table sits the male nurse Julito L. Pol from the Northern Mindanao Provincial Hospital. He comes here to bring some medication and helping with the attachments of the tubes for the patient.
He explains to me, that there is no insurance coverage for this or any other financial help from any Philippine institution. Since the patient is not admitted to a hospital, there is no coverage, is as I understood it.
It’s quite an expensive task. The oxygen alone will sum up to PHP 1,200 a day. Two bottles are needed everyday and the delivery is on a daily basis. The bottles can be borrowed and the couple is using already the cheapest oxygen they can find in town.
Luis told me, he has been working as an OFW before in Qatar, but that’s 2 years ago. He wants to stay home, and don’t want to leave his wife alone with this heavy task.
Before SENDONG struck they used to live in the city at Burgos St. It took almost 4 years before the city administration could relocate them.
This one is not a creek, it’s just when it rains, rainwater is flowing down here uncontrolled. It will cross the road to the relocation side we just left. The road is there in a very bad condition.
A mother with a young child on a motorbike slipped and fell down. We helped her up. She has been lucky, she and her child didn’t got hurt.
People living here tell me, this place is the supposed market site. Well, it’s the flooded area where the rainwater by thunderstorms coming down. The rainwater brings with it mud, plenty mud. The mud flows directly into the old relocation site. That relocation site was built by the old adminstistration (before election 2013).
I enter the relocation site beside the police out post. Here I can see posts for electricity. So far so good. The deeper I move into the relocation site, the muddier the streets are. Not one road has concrete. Before the place become a relocation site it has been a low lying swamped area and still is. Some drainage canals seem not maintained. When it rains heavy, the rainwater is bringing the mud down from the hill and flooding the entire relocation site knee-deep.
It’s really a great accomplishment of the city engeneer’s office to make a swamp a relocation site.
Where you look – mud and more mud.
When people see me approaching, I can hear them whisper: “cano”. A greeting in their own dialect, and a joke with the kids breaks the ice easily. The icecream vendor is around. They have many questions to me and give me some answers without asking.
I see water containers. So curiously I ask why. The say, the city administration has given up on them here. Why? Because it was built by the old administration they say. It seems local politics makes this already hard up people suffering more. Since the beginning the houses have no water connections. The woman shows me her cart to transport the water. Funny thing is, they are all still smiling.
I want to find the place where they have to go to fetch water. Sure enough, a little while later, I see this man coming with his water trolley. He brings me directly to the water fetching area. He told me there are three or so more of them. Each with 4 outlets.
Not to forget: the next SENDONG like storm will come one day. The last mentioned relocation site will not only be knee-deep in mud but maybe to the necks.
Everybody may enjoy a nice sunday.