OFWs fret for families, damaged homes as Taal rumbles

Mye Mulingtapang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2020 03:20 PM | Updated as of Jan 20 2020 02:10 PM

A house covered with ash, is damaged by a fallen tree in Lemery, Batangas City, Jan. 13, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MILAN, Italy — Kae Mendoza, a worker here, wipes tears as she looks at photos of the house in Batangas province that her parents built with years of savings and loans.

The overseas Filipino worker was still some 6 months away from paying off a loan for her house's renovation when the volcano erupted, Mendoza said.

But now, Mendoza's house showed cracks due to the quakes caused by Taal Volcano.

"Sobrang nalulungkot, hindi sila maka-concentrate sa pagtatrabaho, iyak ng iyak. Nagsimula kasi ang bahay namin sa isang kubo, unti-unting pinapalaki kasabay ng paglaki ng pamilya, hanggang sa mas pinaganda," she told ABS-CBN News.

(It's so saddening. My family can't concentrate on working, they keep crying. Our house started as just a hut, we improved it gradually as our family grew, until it became beautiful.)

Mendoza's house was among dozens damaged or destroyed in Agoncillo town after Taal belched a giant ash cloud last Jan. 12 and unleashed hundreds of quakes.

Seismologists warn that the quakes mean that Taal was on the brink of another "hazardous" eruption.
"Sa dami ng lindol hindi namin alam gaanong kalaki na ang pinsala nito ngayon," Mendoza added.

(We don't know the extent of the damage because of the number of quakes.)

James Pangilinan, another OFW, said his rest house in neighboring Talisay town was also covered with ash and had cracks following Taal's steam and ash eruption last Jan. 12.

"Lungkot na lungkot ang pamilya ko, nanlulumo. Umaasa pa naman kami na makakapagbakasyon this year," he shared.

(My family is devastated. We were hoping to take a vacation there this year.)

Several of Pangilinan’s cousins, who are tour guides and fruit pickers on the island, lost their livestock and income source due to Taal's unrest, he added.

"Wala na silang babalikan (they have nothing to return to)," he said.

Residents pull an injured horse they rescued from their homes near the erupting Taal Volcano in Talisay, Batangas, Jan. 16, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

Lelie Nuñez, another OFW from neighboring Lemery town, appealed for help in finding a place where her bedridden father could be evacuated.

"Hirap lang dito 'di mapakali, sakit sa dibdib. Nakakapanlumo, 'di makapag-work, lipad ang isip," she said.

(I can't keep calm, my chest hurts. It's devastating, I can't work because my mind keeps flying off.)

Residents affected by the erupting Taal Volcano leave their town after authorities allowed them to collect belongings and abandoned animals in Agoncillo, Batangas, Jan. 17, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

Adelaida Tarcelo, meanwhile, said she defied his office's cellphone ban during work hours so she could check social media and monitor her family, who fled from Lemery, which is inside Taal volcano's 14-kilometer danger zone.

"Kahit bawal mag-cellphone, wala na akong pakiaalam kung masabihan ng amo o matanggal sa trabaho. Mahalaga ma-update ko mga pamilya ko," she said.

(Even if cellphone use is banned, I don't care anymore, even if I get reprimanded by my boss or fired from work. What matters is that I can get updates on my family.)

OFWs can check the status of their hometowns through the following hotlines of the Office of Civil Defense-Calabarzon.

00 63 917 125 7488
00 63 49 531 7266
00 63 49 531 7279
00 63 49 834 4244