By ALDWIN G. QUITASOL
On August of 2003, around 27 houses in Purok 14-B of Cypress, Irisan were demolished by the Baguio City demolition team escorted by the city police. The residents tried to negotiate with the head of the demolition team but the demolition pushed through. To defend their homes, the residents tried hurling stones at the demolition crew, but they were answered with gunshots from the police. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries from that incident.
Six years after I visited the area and interviewed some of the victims of the said demolition. This interview was made as a series of demolitions threatens and haunt these people of Baguio again.
Prima, 30. A housewife with two kids, “Malagip ko daydiay a demolisyon, uray kasano ti pakaasimi ket awan latta. Intuloy da a rinakrak ‘diay balay mi a sisasango dagiti agsangsangit nga ubbing. Awan maaramidak no di iruar laengen dagiti usar mi ken ipan idiay igid ti kalsada. Sapay agar-arbis idi.” (I remember that demolition, pleading to be spared but to no avail. They continued dismantling our house infront of our crying children. I cannot do anything but to bring out our things and pile it by the roadside. It was even drizzling).
Manuel, 54. “Lima a tawen a nagtrabahoak idiay Saudi. Idi nakaurnongak, nagpatakder kami ti balay ditoy idi 1993 tapno pagyanan mi koma a sangkapamilya. Naragsak kami ta uray kaskasano ket adda makuna a balay mi. Ngem nasakit a pasamak ti demolition idi 2003 ta kasla papel a nadadael diay inyur-urnungak. Itatta, mayat koma no matuloy nga ilako laengen kadakami diay mangibagbaga nga akinkukua daytoy a lote iti presyo a kabaelan mi”. (I worked for five years in Saudi. From my savings we built a house here in 1993. We were happy that we finally had a house. But the demolition on 2003 was a bitter experience as the house I invested in was torn down like paper. Today, it would be good to hear if the so-called owner of this lot will sell it to us at a price we can afford.)
Paulo Lumiwan, 50. He is from Mabongtot, Kalinga. He was a miner in Lepanto Mines in Mankayan, Benguet. He was a victim of a rockfall accident inside the mine tunnel that resulted to his disability.
“Saanakon a makatrabaho a kas minero ta grabe ti pannaka-aksidentek, saanak payen a makatakder idi. Idi 2003, nagpaaramidak ti balay mi ditoy manipud iti benepisyo a naalak idiay Lepanto. Ngem kalpasan ti maysa a bulan ket naikkan kami ketdin ti notice of demolition. Inaramid mi amin ti panakitungtong ngem intuloy da latta ti demolisyon.”
Lumiwan at that time was bedridden and literally cannot stand.
“Gapu ta saanak a makabangon ken talaga a saandak nga inruar dagiti kabbalay ko ta amangan no adda mapasamak, immuneg dagiti demolition team ket inkapilitan a binagkatdak nga inruar. Awan maaramidak no di aglua laengen bayat nga iruruwardak.”
After the demolition, Lumiwan, carried by one of his sons, went to the city hall to ask if the city government will relocate them. They told them to wait as this matter is being addressed but for months no relocation was ever provided.
“Kasla awan met biang da. Immasideg kami pay kenni Congressman idi 2004 ket nagkari isuna ti P1.3 a milyon tapno usaren mi para idiay equity tapno mabayadan mi daytoy a lote. Inut-inuten min to a bayadan kaniana. Saan a natuloy ta ‘diay mangimplimentar koma a National Housing Authority ket kasla pagporsiyentuan dakami met.”
At present, the residents of Purok 14-b are hoping that there will be a favorable outcome from the the ongoing negotiations with a certain Mr. Santos who claimed to be the owner of the contested lot. They are being asked to pay P1,200 per square meter.
“Awan koman ti demolisyon ta kaasi kami laeng a babassit. Sakbay ti demolisyon ket adda koma ti makuna a napia a negosasyon. Ammo mi nga iniskwatan mi ti daga na, ngem biktima kami met ti kinaawan pagyanan gapu iti kinarigat ti biag,”ended Lumiwan. #