Ompong victims

Them, Who Lost their Loved Ones

 

Story 1: The Children’s Plight & Plea:

The Laguitan children outside the church building (Christ Episcopal Church) in Kias

Joven, Armie and Lexie were outside the church building (Christ Episcopal Church), in Kias, Baguio City when we met them on October 19, 2018.  The 2 girls, Armie, 12 and Lexie, 2, were running around and busy playing together; while Joven, 13, was seated on the stairs, with his hands clasped together between his knees and silently watching his 2 sisters, or so I think. While the 2 girls seem to be unaffected and openly responding to other people, Joven, accordingly, has remained aloof and uncommunicative ever since that fateful day when Typhoon Ompong caused a mudflow surging by their home that led to the disappearance of their parents.

 

The parents of these children, Lito and Verga Laguitan, were last seen outside of their house in Luneta, Itogon during the height of Typhoon Ompong last September 15, and they have not been seen since then.

 According to their Auntie Irene and lola Rosita Osdawen, Verga’s sister and mother respectively, the children were inside their house in Luneta, while their parents were outside, supposedly to clear out a drainage or a culvert to prevent from flooding. While inside, a strong force suddenly jolted their house that made Armie ran to the door to see what it was. And she saw a raging mudflow flowing strongly and violently beside their house and that, her mama and daddy were nowhere to be seen. She rushed to wake his older brother, who then carried their young sister and together they braved their way out through the other side of their house, with no shoes or slippers on, no raincoat or whatsoever to cover themselves from the rain.  However, they cannot cross to the other side where it is higher and safer because of the mudflow. So they sought shelter instead in a small hut or kampo (miner’s temporary shelter), until someone saw them and called the attention of the barangay officials. With the help of volunteers, the children were then rescued and brought to the evacuation center in Bua. It was only the following day, September 16 that Lola Rosita and the other family members were informed of their plight and thus brought the children home to Bobon in Virac, Itogon.

While they were recounting this, Auntie Irene and Lola Rosita were shedding tears of awe and anguish: Awe, because of the children’s bravery and calmness, that at their young age, they knew what to do at that time; Anguish, because no one can explain what the children went through, what were they feeling and what were their thoughts during that time; and because as children, they should not go through that ordeal on their own.

 

the area where volunteers are searching for the bodies of the couple… (photo courtesy of Irene Oswaden-Agusto

The Laguitan family used to rent a house in Kias, where Verga and the children were staying, while Lito stays most of the time in Luneta, where he is working as a small-scale miner.  This year, the family decided to move to Luneta to save on rent, while saving for their future house, “tapno mamaymaysa ti banga” and of course, for them to be all together. Unfortunately, this tragedy happened.

We know it is hard and so sad to lose a loved one, but to lose two at the same time and in a very sudden and unexpected manner is so disheartening. But what is more heartbreaking is not knowing what happened and not seeing the bodies of your loved ones. “Uray koma mabirokan ken makita mi jay bagi da, tapno tumalna ti panunot mi amin” (our hope is for their bodies to be found, for us to see them so to give everyone a peace of mind). This is the plea and prayer of the children and the family of Lito and Verga Laguitan.

*Up to this time, retrieval operations is still on-going now led by the local government and several volunteers. Family members still go to the site to help in the retrieval operations. The children are still with their mother’s family in Kias, Virac, Itogon. Armie transferred school at the Fort Del Pilar while Joven stopped going to school at the moment.

 

 

Story 2: A Widow’s Ordeal:

Clifford “Abe” Camiding, 42 was an active member of the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Committee (BDRRMC) of Kias, Baguio City as a rescue volunteer. He was tagged as the comedian of their group, that even during the hardest times of their operations, he always makes his groupmates laugh or smile.

However, the day after the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong, Clifford will no longer provide laughter to his groupmates.

The landslide along Loakan Rd. that buried Clifford

In the morning of September 15, 2018, Clifford told his wife, Cherry that he is joining the other members of the BDRRMC to help out in the relief and rescue operations in Brgy. Loakan Proper, and that she waits for him to come home later that day.  However, the afternoon passed until night came, Clifford has not come home.

 

Cherry while sharing her story

Cherry then later learned that her husband went missing as he was buried by landslide along the Loakan airport service/access road and that he was still being recovered and retrieved. That night, the following day and the days after, she has anxiously awaits for news about her husband. One day became two days, two days became three then more. The anguish of not knowing what happened to Clifford is so tormenting to his wife and other family members. Then finally, on September 22, 2018 at 3:00pm, Clifford’s body was finally found, 7 days after he was buried by a landslide. Thank God, the rescuer has finally been rescued. Many thanks to all the volunteers who worked day and night for his retrieval, and to the numerous donors that continuously provided supplies to the rescue volunteers.

At this point, Cherry is still unsure of what the future will bring her.

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Padi Brando praying for these families

The Families of Osdawen-Laguitan and Camiding are members of our congregation in Christ Episcopal Church in Kias, Baguio City. And they were recipients of the “Love Gifts”, (either cash and in kind) that the Diocese (EDNCP) received. These gifts came from individual members, from church organizations, from the different congregations/local churches of the Diocese and from other dioceses including the National Office of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP).

Small as it may, it is hoped that at least they have something to help them as they try to settle down. We know that nothing can compensate for their loss. We then continue to pray and solicit others to pray for these families, for their peace of mind and for their loved ones who perished. /fedamaguen

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