Construction worker loses wife, 8 kids in Camarines Sur landslide

Published January 4, 2019, 12:26 AM

by Roel Tibay

By Ruel Saldico and Niño Luces

SAGÑAY, Camarines Sur –Jose Erno, 48, a construction worker, will always remember New Year’s Eve of 2018.

From work in Legazpi City, he rushed home to barangay Patitinan in this town, about two hours away, but the rains stopped all public vehicles from traveling that night. The next day, he arrived in his barangay to find his house buried in a landslide.

Arriving home, he found only one child alive and the lifeless bodies of two of his nine children. Until today, the bodies of his wife and six other children are missing.

In an interview with the Manila Bulletin, Tatay Jose said that he has no choice but to accept what happened. But it will be a very difficult memory to erase especially because December 31, 2018 had been a special day for him.

As a construction worker in Legazpi City, Tatay Jose had made a special stop at the mall to buy gifts for his children, choosing each toy and dress, and the food for his family’s Noche Buena carefully.

He opted to take a “habal-habal” ride (a motorcycle taking passengers) to Barangay Patitinan in this town because travel would take only one and a half hours while it would take two hours on a regular public jeepney.

But the heavy rain delayed his trip, and he had to wait for the downpour to stop in Tiwi town where he got stranded for the night.

“Galing po ako ng Legazpi at pauwi na sana. Kaso po na-strand ako sa Tiwi, kaya naka-uwi ako kinabukasan na (I came from Legazpi and was on my way home. But I got stranded in “Tiwi so I was able to reach home the next day),” he narrated.

His irritation that he missed celebrating New Year’s Eve with his family turned to grief when he arrived home to find his house buried in a landslide.

“Isa lang na anak ko ang nakaligtas. Yung dalawa, nakuha na, patay na sila. Yung asawa ko at ibang anak, hanggang ngayon nawawala pa (Only one of my children survived. I found two of them dead. My wife and my other children are still missing),” he said.

“Nakakalungkot, masakit kasi di ko man lang sila naabutan na buhay. Bakit sa Bagong Taon pa? Diyos na lang nagpapalakas ng loob ko, sana makaya ko pa (It is very sad and painful because I did not reach them alive. Why did this happen on New Year’s Eve? Only God can strengthen me. I hope I can endure this),” he said,.

Tatay Jose has only wish. “Sana makuha na ang asawa at mga anak ko. Hiling ko lang sa ating pamahalaan, sana matulungan ako na mabigyan ng maayos na libing ang aking mga anak kasi isa lang akong construction worker (I hope to find my wife and children. I appeal to the government to give them a proper burial because I am only a construction worker),” he said.

According to the records of the Environment Disaster Management and Emergency Response Office (EDMERO) in Camarines Sur, 30 casualties have been recovered by rescue teams composed of the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Office of Civil Defense in Barangay Patitinan, this town.