Forced resilience: Residents in typhoon-hit Rizal sitio have no choice but to start again

Nov 21 2020 03:38 PM

Popularly known for its scenic landscape and recreational activities such as hiking and spelunking, the famed Wawa Dam in Barangay San Rafael, Rodriguez, Rizal, wasn’t spared from the wrath of Typhoon Ulysses last November 11.

Its short trail made of stone was damaged by the strong current as the typhoon dumped heavy rainfall which caused massive flooding in Rizal province and surrounding areas, washing away debris and belongings to the river. 

Now, residents of Sitio Kayrupa near the dam struggle to endure the hardships brought by multiple typhoons in the last few weeks, sometimes forgetting that there is still an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the country. 

“Ito po ang matindi talaga. Mas matindi pa po sa nagdaang Ondoy. Mas malaki pong di hamak,” says 48-year-old Roberto Salvador, whose house facing the river was completely washed away. 

He says the flood from Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009 only reached the foot of his house. This time however, Typhoon Ulysses’s flash flood was so massive that the water came from the back of his house, catching them off guard. Their sari-sari store a few steps away was nowhere to be found the day after. 

Just a few meters away from Salvador’s, a 74-year-old handicapped man makes his way along the huge rocks left on the pathway. 

Francisco Nicolas lost his right foot during a freak accident at work in 1971 when he worked as a logger in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. Despite his disability, Francisco accepts small jobs such as shoe and umbrella repair to help his wife Elena, 56, in their daily needs. Elena takes cleaning jobs in neighboring farms to provide for their family, but work for her has been scarce. All the items Francisco had repaired were washed away with their other belongings during the typhoon.

In Sitio Kayrupa, most residents now solely rely on relief operations to get food on the table. Every time they hear about volunteers visiting, they rush to walk along destroyed pathways and bridges to get to the parking lot near the entrance of the park, located a few hundred meters away. 

Some volunteers brave the trail into the villages, but other groups can’t transport their goods into the village because of the damage, leaving locals with no choice but to go back and forth.

“Minsan inuutusan ko sya na bumaba dun sa malapit-lapit, baka mayroon na naman bigayan dun. Baka makakuha sya, kasi hindi na siya pinapapila e,” says Elena.

(I told him to get closer because there might be another round of relief distribution. He might get some because he is not asked to line up anymore.)