Man trapped inside Albay mall recalls ‘Rolly’s’ wrath

Published November 1, 2020, 5:10 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Celson Baring Mok See drove his uncle back to Albay on Sunday, Nov. 1, and found himself trapped inside a mall for more than 10 hours where he witnessed how super typhoon “Rolly,” said to be the strongest storm in the world this year, wreaked havoc on the place. 

(Celson Baring Mok See / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Nakakatakot. Hindi mo mawawari yung pakiramdam. Akala mo katapusan na ng mundo, ‘yung lakas ng hangin, hindi ko ma-describe. Umuugong siya, umuugong (It’s scary. I cannot describe the feeling.

I thought it was already the end of the world. The wind was so strong. It was howling),” Celson told Manila Bulletin in an audio call while trapped inside a mall in Polangui town along with 15 others.

“Yung hangin niya, mayroong halong parang maitim na usok. Hindi ko masabi, kasi wala namang nagsiga dito. Tapos basa naman na yung daan, di mo masabi na maalibok. Baka siguro galing sa kisame ng mall (The wing came with a black smoke. I cannot explain because no one started a fire and the road is wet. I can’t explain why it seemed dusty. Perhaps, the smoke came from the ceiling of the mall),” he added.

The strong wind shattered the mall’s glass doors and ripped the ceiling off. Celson said the height of the onslaught came at around 8 a.m., or the time when the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised Signal Level No. 5 in the province.

He and 15 others hid in an empty store, which was still under construction, and moved to a comfort room until the strong winds calmed down by 11 a.m. In videos he uploaded on his Facebook page, pieces of wood were seen flying in the air at the height of the typhoon.

“Problema namin dito, pagkain talaga (Our problem here is food),”Celson said in his Facebook live while showing the debris caused by the typhoon inside the mall. At about 4 a.m., Celson said he asked the mall guards to let him in as the road leading to his friend’s house in Oas town, where he was supposed to stay, was already blocked by toppled power lines.

He had not eaten anything while at the mall because the water outside was waist deep.

Scenes like these were also experienced by residents of other towns and provinces in the Bicol Region that bore the brunt of the super typhoon.

In Legazpi, Tiwi, and Camalig towns, among others, a surging flood engulfed the streets, which was made worse by a broken dike in Sogong Ilawod that flooded the community.

Although many residents were already evacuated, some were seen wading through the flood as they returned home “perhaps to get something,” Moomina Dimapinguin of Legazpi City said.

In Camarines Sur, Josh Delloro of Barangay Concepcion Grande in Naga City said that the roof of a cotton and alcohol warehouse near their house were blown away while trees were uprooted by the strong wind. “9 a.m. ‘yung strongest.

Para kaming binoblower (The strongest one was felt at 9 a.m. We felt the wind was like a blower),” he said.

Julianne Lola, Delloro’s friend who lives near a rice paddy in Barangay Pacol, said that the whole rice field was already under water.

There, the intensity of the wind that hit the area defied description as trees were already bending to the ground.