By ARTHUR LAPAAN ALLAD-IW
“It came unexpected, like a thief in the night. In a matter of minutes, a roaring landslide swept through our village and instantly claimed the lives of 35 residents.” That is how a survivor described in Kankanaey the worst landslide that hit Sitio Bulala of Kayan East in Tadian, Mountain Province.
Erlina D. Trinidad, 15 years old, was hesitant earlier to tell her story. She tried not to remember the horror. It took the lives of her villagemates, including her parents, a brother, and a sister. More so, she did not like to relive the nightmare that left lifetime scars on her person, her right foot from above her ankle was amputated.
At her hospital bed at the Baguio General Hospital, she described that evening of October 8, a Thursday. It was raining hard and power went-off all over the place. Her father and mother, brother Jonjon, sister Vanessa, and herself went to bed early. A coronation activity was scheduled that night but failed to push through in the height of the typhoon.
At past 6 o’clock in the evening, she heard a loud rumbling sound from the mountain towards their house. In an intant that followed, something so massive hit their house, a second house above, and swept them all down below.
Realizing that a landslide hit them, she shouted for help. She knew then that her brother and sister and their parents were covered by the avalanche.
A man she identified as Gumangan carried and took her a few meters from where she was found. Gumangan went back to look for other victims. As the debris moved down, Erlina was caught and was carried down again. Unable to stand up, she laboured to crawl away but was not able to move much.
She reached out for any liquid that she can use to clear the mud on her eyes. As debris continued to fall down on her, she used her hands to protect her head, particularly from rolling stones. She was slowly being covered by mud and stone when her uncle Bogs Bantasan found her. She was immediately brought to the Barangay Hall where she was cleansed.
While other residents came to the rescue when they were notified by the loud ringing of the bell, Erlina was brought by her brother Richard to the Luis Hora General Hospital. Richard was not in their house as he was out selling balut (duck egg) at the Plaza.
Diagnosed at the Hora Hospital to have major injuries, she was recommended to be transferred to Baguio City. But the Halsema Road linking Mountain Province and Benguet was closed, and so it became apparent that it is only through chopper that Erlina can be brought to Baguio. On her second day at the Hora Hospital, a chopper was arranged by local officials to land in Tadian.
Her trip via chopper was not realized though due to the fog. Instead, she was brought to the Bontoc Hospital instead the next day where she was taken by a chopper to the Baguio General Hospital on October 12.
After a few days of observation at the BGH, Erlina was amputated on October 16. She fbecame depressed, especially when she learned from her sister about the fate of their parents, his brother Jonjon and sister Vanessa. But she was cheered up by her relatives who said: “Baka wada mission mo ay inted apo Dios (Maybe God has a mission for you.)”
She tried to overcome her new situation. Maybe a new life, she thinks, as she is more fortunate than other village mates. Some of her village mates who perished were whole families, like the 33 year old Principal Lecio Gao-ay who died with his wife and two children. Aside from the lives to the landslides, 18 houses were totally destroyed while five were partially destroyed from the total 32 houses in the sitio.
Erlina’s older sister Neneng said that she (Erlina) can walk normally with the help of prosthetics or artificial legs which they would need to raise funds for. It will cost at least one hundred twenty thousand pesos, according to her doctors.
Erlina has also incurred a hip injury. Her sister Neneng said that an operation will be performed after her amputated right foot will heal.
Right now, Neneng needs help for the medication of her sister. On October 16, the injectable Piperacillin Sodium (Tazobactam Sodium) already ran out of stock at the BGH where the said medicine costs one thousand eight hundred pesos and is more expensive outside. The said medicine is needed by Erlina every eight hours.
Erlina will be undergoing therapy after the hip operation and in case she will be using an artificial foot.The therapy period will take time, Neneng explained in the interview.
Erlina is a graduating student at the Holy Rosary High School of Kayan, Tadian. Due to all the procedures she has to undergo, she needs support. For any support, you can visit her at the Baguio General Hospital or you can channel it through her sister, Neneng Trinidad Echanis who is always there to assist Erlina.# nordis.net