LAGANGILANG, ABRA ─ Christopher Piscador, 35 years old, starts the day as early as four in the morning together with his wife, Kimchie. Christopher would go straight to do farm work while Kimchie prepares the family’s meal. On most days, Kimchie would help her husband tend their crops.
Christopher’s family lives in the quiet sitio of Magalong with less than 20 resident families. To reach their area, they would either cross a hanging bridge or through a short river, before another 15-minute walk through a rice field.
A little past 8:30 am of July 27, the husband and wife were already in the field with their youngest daughter when they felt the strong and sudden earthquake. From a distance, they could see their house shaking, with chunks of the concrete wall falling off.
“Noong lumindol po, talagang napahinto po kami,” shares Christopher. (When the earthquake hit, we stopped in our tracks) Their other children were at school, so luckily, no one was inside their home at the time. “Di po kami agad pumasok. Andito lang kami sa labas kasi nagbabagsakan mga gamit sa loob, pati mga hollow blocks. Lahat ng mga pader, pati mga poste gumagalaw na, at naputol mula sa ilalim,” he adds. (We didn’t go inside [the house] right away. We stayed outside because there were items falling, even the hollow blocks. All the walls and posts were moving, and even the posts were breaking).
For almost two months, they were living outside their house because they were worried that it would fall apart while they were inside. To this day, aftershocks still occurred.
Christopher’s family mostly relies on their crops for their own consumption. For income, they are caretakers of three pigs loaned to them. Because these are only loaned, only half of the profit goes to them when the pigs are sold. The most they would earn from selling a pig would be around 2,000 pesos.
With a limited source of income, Christopher admits that it would have taken them a while to prioritize repairing their home. When they found out that they would receive core shelter assistance from REACH 3 Project’s Abra Earthquake Response funded by the European Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), Christopher’s family was eager to start building their new home. Together with his wife and eldest daughter, Rhea Mae, they worked together in hauling all the materials from the bridge to their lot.
“I am really grateful to Action Against Hunger and ECHO because they gave me a house. That really helped us a lot.” – Christopher Piscador
Until now the children still get scared, even at the slightest quakes. “Yung mga bata talagang takot na takot po sila. Pag may aftershocks, talagang bumabangon sila at ready na umalis”, Christopher shares. (The children are really scared. Whenever there are aftershocks, they are immediately on their feet and ready to evacuate). Two of their children go to San Isidro Elementary School, one of the schools that received a temporary learning space from the same project.
They expressed their gratitude to Action Against Hunger who was implementing the project in Lagangilang and San Quintin. “Talagang malaking pasalamat ko sa Action Against Hunger at ECHO kasi binigyan po ako ng bahay, na talagang malaking tulong ito sa amin.” (I am really grateful to Action Against Hunger and ECHO because they gave me a house. That really helped us a lot.)
With the support of the European Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Abra Earthquake Response is part of the ‘Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Populations in Mindanao and the Province of Abra Affected by Conflict, Disasters, and the COVID-19 Pandemic’ or ‘REACH 3’ Project. It is implemented by ACCORD Inc., Action Against Hunger, CARE Philippines, Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services, Community Organizers Multiversity, IDEALS Inc., Nisa Ul-Haqq Fi Bangsamoro, United Youth of the Philippines (UnYPhil) Women, and Oxfam Pilipinas. ●