• by Analyn Borbe

    A house in Kasiglahan Village 1 that was never occupied by relocatees. Photo taken in 2011

    My name is Analyn Romero Borbe, 31 years old, single mother of three cute children: two boys and one girl. I am the eldest among four children of Oscar and Gloriosa Borbe, who are both from Bicol. My father was born in Tabaco, Albay while my mother’s hometown is Arroyo, Masbate which is also where I was born. As a child, I had a great dream and that is to become a lawyer.

    My father worked as a construction worker in San Juan, Metro Manila (now San Juan City) for former Mayor (and incidentally former Philippine president) Joseph Estrada’s municipal projects called “Pagawaing Bayan ni Erap.” These projects included the construction of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC), Police Station, Public Market, Fire Station, among others. My father also served as caretaker and took care of the maintenance of one of the barracks behind the MTC and the Philippine National Police. That barrack became our house from 1982 until we were relocated to Kasiglahan Village 1, San Jose, Rodriguez, Rizal in 1999.

    November 2, 1999 is a date that is still vivid in my mind. Memories of the demolition still haunt me until now. While carrying my month-old child, I saw how the demolition team destroyed dwellings including the house that we lived in for so many years. I cried the whole time while constantly reminding myself to be strong and accept the fact that we did not own the land. But we are Filipinos too and we believed that we have the right to live in this country. Thus we asked the local government for resettlement. The local government led by its former mayor Jinggoy Estrada (son of Joseph Estrada, and now a senator) offered relocation sites in Laguna and in Montalban. We chose to relocate in Montalban as it is nearer the city. I was 19 years old then – perhaps very young yet so much aware of my responsibilities as a mother as well as the eldest child in the family.

    My family belonged to the first batch of families that resettled in Kasiglahan, which was actually not yet ready for relocation at that time. It lacked even the most basic services and all of us suffered. The PhP5000 and food assistance provided by the LGU lasted only a month. The market was very far from the relocation site that transportation would cost a lot. We fetched non-potable water from a well (which was also far from our house). Since water was not safe to drink, a lot of us got sick. I myself suffered from amoebiasis. Luckily, I was able to buy cheap Chinese medicine from a peddler – the medicine plus a lot of faith made me well.

    We starved the following month. Since I was breastfeeding my child, I needed nutritious food. Thus, we would get kangkong (water spinach) and catch halaan (freshwater clams) in small ponds and streams nearby. Read more…

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  • by Evangeline Serrano

    Evangeline Serrano

    My name is Evangeline Serrano. I was born and raised in Makati City. It is also where I obtained my
    primary and secondary education. I took up Education in college but was not able to finish due to financial constraints. Being the eldest in the family, I chose to quit schooling so my other siblings can go to school, too. Eventually I became an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) to be able to help my family. I worked in Saipan as a domestic helper for seven years. It is also where I got married and gave birth to a son.

    My mother always got sick. Because of this I returned to the Philippines with my son, and stayed with my parents in Makati. We lived in a house beside a river. And while it was not the nicest house to live
    in, we had this constant sense of stability because of relatives and friends who lived nearby, and who
    were always ready to lend a hand in times of need. Access to social services was easy: a hospital and
    a school were near our place that we did not have to spend much for transportation. Life was fine, until
    we were informed of a demolition.

    It was in 2000 when the government relocated us to Kasiglahan Village I in Barangay San Jose, Montalban, Rizal. Twelve years ago, they said we had to relocate because of the government’s Pasig Rehabilitation Program that intended to clean up the Pasig River. Read more…

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  • by Ena Angelica Luga

    I remember my mom and I were making waffles. Suddenly the chair on which I stood started to rock, and I fell. The batter being cooked in the waffle maker spilled and scalded my leg. I remember being in the car afterwards, and imagining the road engulfing us. That is about all that I remember. I was only four years old.

    I do not remember what happened after I fell. I do not remember how we got out of the house and into the car. I do not remember where we went afterwards. I do not remember hearing the wails of people waiting to be rescued from the Hyatt Hotel that was described as collapsing like an accordion being squeezed to produce sound. I do not remember the stench of cadavers rotting, the lack of water and electricity, the food shortage. They say children are the most to make use of selective memory as a coping mechanism. Hence, I rely on my mother’s stories to complete the picture of this part of my life.

    Our family had been in Baguio for more than five years before the 1990 earthquake struck. With my dad then in the Army, we lived in the Philippine Military Academy. When the ground started to shake, my mother said it felt like we were out on sea during a storm. It was difficult to believe that we were actually on land. Everything was being tossed as if by strong waves. She remained glued to where she was, watching the refrigerator and television as they seemed to come to life. She describes them as seemingly walking, swaying from side to side as they moved forward. All the glassware stored in cupboards fell and were shattered, but she noticed them only after the ordeal. She was mesmerized by the “walking” appliances, shaken only from this stupor by my dad’s aunt who was then vacationing in our home. Lola Honey was hanging clothes outside to dry when the earthquake started. She then started screaming for us to get out of the house, but all the doors were blocked. In the end, we had to climb out through a window and drive to our neighbor’s lawn where we set up a tent not long after. Moments later, rain started to fall hard.

    Hyatt Hotel in Baguio

    About an hour before the earthquake, mom said the animals started acting weird. Our pets were restless. The dogs were howling and running around the house like fools. The chickens kept crowing despite the fact that it was the middle of the afternoon. On the other hand, everything seemed eerily still and quiet. Even leaves were not moving because there seemed to be no wind at all. But during those times, nobody looked out for signs like these. Nobody expected what happened an hour later.
    Read more…

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