Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A far cry

A far cry
by Prof. Tobias Cosico
'Please ma'am, help us'

It wasn’t a glorious morning of February 17, 2006 for Edilio Coquilla to send an eerie text to his mother asking for the impossible as being one among the 200 pupils with 40 teachers trapped inside the Guinsaugon school buried 30 feet under by an avalanche of mud flood, rocks and boulders at St. Bernard Vilage of Southern Leyte. Her mother helpless can just cry reading his text, "Ma’am we are still under the school. Please help us. Ma’am. This is Edilio Caquilla. Please, Ma’am!"
Hope springs eternal. The progress of high technology equipment can hear sound 10 meters under the earth. "We heard sound, a rhythmic tapping sounds and then gone", said the audio detector specialist from Taiwan. At that ground zero, it is now sheer determination of 3,000 US marines who commit their Balikatan at the landslide to look for lives only using picks and spades to finally unearth the school flag pole that glimmers hope. Rescuers all over the world from Taiwan, Malaysia, Spain with their K-9 dogs, the Philippine team and among others are builders of hope.
The sun himself is the only witness of the event which was so fate like a speeding bullet swallowing the village of St. Bernard in just a mere glance. A father said, "I just left my family at home to buy food and when I came back, our house has gone engulfed by the mud."
The St. Bernard Mayor, Maria Lim said, "I saw the Barangay captain conducting a meeting at Barangay Guinsaugon so I decided to meet people at the next village. Before I could realized, St. Bernard Village had gone together with the Barangay Captain and 2,000 to 3,000 lives engulfed by the mud. I could have been one them." At least 177 people have escaped the muddy grave.
All tragedies are finished by death. But not for the rescuers. They’re not giving up. It’s no retreat, no surrender. It’s a battle, a race against time. Yes, not yet until they see the roof of the school buried 30 feet under. Hope has not fallen yet amidst the bad weather, the heavy rain and the dangerous soft and shifting mud that could suck rescuers and amidst even the threat of another landslide to befall from an adjacent mountains as rain keeps on pouring. This is a life commitment and dedication in desperate search for lives buried under the tons of mud.
History of tragedies keep on repeating itself. It’s because men generally have no regard to trees and environment. They denuded forest so they caused the 6,000 lives lost in Ormoc. Everything passes, everything perishes and everything palls. They cover their tombs or coffins by mud itself.
The survivors are untaught to hear the extreme of poverty – the lost of family and home. Thanks to the humanitarian contribution of the ABS-CBN for their cavans and cavans of rice and aids keep pouring in from foreign leaders as France, Pakistan, Bahrain and others.
The saying goes, "Nature cannot be ordered about, except by obeying her." So nature has its own way and man and nature must work hand in hand. St. Bernard is an event that is about to happen. This opens the minds of scientist and geologist to start forewarning people of tragedy just waiting to happen to prevent catastrophe.
There is a need now for a "Disaster Map" to forwarm and forearm people on the high possibilities of landslide, mudslide and flooding around the country. This is significant with the coming of La Niña to start April to May.
The coordination of NAMRIA (National Mapping and Resources Information Administration), MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau), DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and the LGU (Local Government Units) to truly help the people have significant role to save many lives by predicting event and preventing tragedies. No more of town that turns to a graveyard and no more for an impossible text sent by Edilio.


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