Oil spill evacuees: Living for now, longing for home
by Elsa S. Subong
Tando, Guimaras (9 October) -- For the 44 families who are at the evacuation centers in Sitio Proper and Sitio Iraya, Tando, Nueva Valencia surviving daily on the relief goods and the Cash for Work provided them by agencies is good for now but they still hope they could return home and start life anew.
Kagawad Evelyn Gantecela of Tando said that the families have learned to live one day at a time and make do with the assistance being given them. Kagawad Gantecela said that many of the evacuees did not want to be dependent on the relief goods for a long time but they want to start working for the future of their children.
The Cash for Work service facilitated by Petron and the Department of Social Welfare and Development consist of garbage disposal, gardening with plots already planted as of this time, and cleanliness and beautification around the sitio proper.
For these, the evacuees work five days a week and paid Php300 per day and Php200 for a half-a-day’s work. Most of their earnings go to the basic needs which are not included in the provisions given them, like personal toiletries, laundry soap, and others with bulk of the expenses on transportation and allowances of children going to school.
Fanny Bungar, rural health midwife, whose family and that of her brothers and sisters were badly hit by the oil spill, said that the income can meet some basic needs, as long as the family members do not get sick.
“Tani, makatuon man ang mga tawo magtipon sang parte sang ila ginakita,” (I hope the people will learn to save a part of their earning), Fanny quipped in the local dialect.
Maribel Cayanan, a 52-year old widow, whose family did not leave the shore despite the oil spill, was able to save a part of her son’s income from the Cash for Work activities.
It is not enough money but the family of Maribel, with her son Rommel working, did not use up the earning for just anything they felt they wanted to spend on or on any vice like smoking and drinking. They learned to budget, forced themselves to save daily, and after a few weeks of joining the Cash for Work, were able to buy a piglet and some cement to repair the house which is flooded.
During lull moments, the evacuees come together for the usual past time of chatting with each other, or talking with the media and some visitors. Kagawad Gantecela said that the barangay officials and the residents have been assisting the evacuees by making them feel they are accommodated.
Gantecela added that they are also facilitating the conduct of spiritual activities to uplift the spirits of the evacuees who are often depressed because of the uncertainties of their future mixed with their longing to be back and resume life at the ocean front.
Meanwhile, though life may not be really comfortable in tents and makeshift shelters, the evacuees still manage and pin their hopes on the rehabilitation program of government that will bring them to a better life. (PIA 6) [top]