Letters from Dinagat Islands: 'Our houses are roofless, but we are not hopeless'

Published December 21, 2021, 8:58 PM

by Zea Capistrano

DAVAO CITY – Residents from Dinagat Islands wrote letters for their relatives, hoping that it would reach their loved ones as power and signal lines in the province remained down due to Typhoon Odette.

Five handwritten notes were posted on Facebook by Gov. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao on Monday, Dec. 20.

Jane Mayola told her sisters and brother that she is doing okay and that she is hoping to see them soon in her handwritten note.

“Damage el kasa pero todo kame safe lang (The house was damaged, but we are safe) Merry Christmas, and hope to see you all soon! We love you,” her letter read.

Aimee Antonio-Jimeno wrote to her sister Janet Caroline Antonio-Viesca on Sunday, Dec. 19.

“Please know that our families, Dela Merced, Antonio, Jimeno, and Galinato, are all fine. And we are happy to be alive after Odette!” Antonio-Jimeno said.

“Our houses are roofless, but we are NOT hopeless! Please let all our families know,” she wrote.

“Papa Jorge” also wrote to Brianne Daligdig to let his family know that he is safe.

“Ayaw kabalaka sa amo tanan luwas mi sa disgrasya diri sa Tag-abaca, Basilisa (Don’t worry about us, we are all safe from the disaster here in Tag-abaca, Basilisa),” he wrote.

“Damaged ang atu lugar, walay kuryente ug communication, sira tanan. Amping kanunay (Our place is damaged, there is no electricity and communication. Everything is destroyed. Always take care),” he added.

Meanwhile, Reymond Gonzales wrote to Anele Gonzales to tell her that he was okay and would spend his Christmas on the island.

“Ga okay ra ko diri na lang ta mag-Xmas (Ga, I am okay. Let’s spend Christmas here),” he wrote.

Dinagat Islands Provincial Health Officer Dr. Jillian Francise Lee also wrote to her family in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, on a sheet from her prescription pad to let them know that she is doing fine.

“Please stop worrying about me. I’m fine, I’m always fine,” she said. She also shared that there were “twelve deaths and counting.”

“Sanitation is a problem, storm surge in one barangay,” she wrote.

Lee’s letter also listed essential items needed in the province, including “stuff for sanitation” and “stuff to set up a temporary hospital.”

The letters were handed to Bag-ao after their briefing at the command center in Dinagat Islands. Bag-ao said they would try to post all the letters they receive whenever they can.

“Pipilitin kong mai-post lahat ng matatanggap ko sa kada pagkakataong makalabas ako para sa mga patawag na mga meetings. Eto ang ilang sulat pagkatapos mag briefing ang command center sa Dinagat,” the governor said.

Bag-ao has included in gathering of notes containing names and addresses in the ground operations of the provincial government, said Dinagat Islands Provincial Information Officer Jeff Crisostomo.

“These will be used as “proofs of life” that will be posted online for their relatives from outside to see in order to know that their loved ones in the province survived. The PNP of Dinagat Islands led by PCOL Frankie Candelario also committed to assist in this endeavor aside from performing their regular duties in our recovery efforts,” Crisostomo added.