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Guinsaugon tragedy 11 years later

January 28 - February 3, 2017

SAINT BERNARD - Many of the survivors have moved on from the tragic landslide. Orphans are now parents, farmers have restored their rice fields and local government has improved its disaster risk reduction management system.

But survivors now face the different story. As they remember their loved ones buried in the rubble, they also continue to find ways to rise from the poverty.

Eleven years after the tragedy, Saint Bernard still faces the challenges associated with rebuilding.

According to municipal disaster risk reduction council head Mitzi Adobas, people rely on its own scanty resources to move forward on relocation and development plans.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer Danilo Atienza said they are continuously applying soft mitigation and community-based programs such as lectures, seminars, trainings and various drills to educate people when similar natural disaster comes.

Moreover, they also advised the people to continue to plant trees.

Adobas claimed that sustainable livelihood remains a constant obstacle to Saint Bernard town and the survivors of the 2006 landslide.

Sources of livelihood in the area are farming, coconut planting, and growing crops.

Reports revealed that livelihood in the relocation sites were not considered, thus people there had no means of living.

The local government allowed the survivors to use the landslide site for farming and raising fish in ponds on the condition that workers are no longer allowed to stay in old Guinsaugon at night.

“They farm there during the day and go back to their new homes at night. They can’t live there but they’re allowed to work there,” Adobas said in a phone interview.

Established as a municipality in 1954, Saint Bernard is prone to practically every natural hazard, with the town’s coastal areas directly facing the Pacific Ocean where typhoons regularly pass. Rocks in the mountains that surround this town were shattered when the Philippine fault system sliced through them. All these make the town vulnerable to storm surges, flooding, earthquake-induced landslides, ground shaking, tsunamis and liquefaction.

It was the worst natural disaster in the country’s history based on report.(By MARK L. RIMAS)






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