PORAC, Pampanga – “Dapat sinama na lang nila ako,” said a grieving father who lost his wife and two children following a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Central Luzon and Metro Manila Friday.
Jason dela Cruz said he was parking his tricycle when the ground shook past 5 p.m. He said he had just brought his wife Manilyn, six-year-old son Jacob and one-year-old Haylee to the supermarket in the ground floor of a four-storey building that collapsed and killed at least 12 persons.
“Hindi ko po alam ang gagawin ko matapos nito,” said Jason.
Jason was in the funeral parlor yesterday, just hours after Jacob’s body was recovered around 1 a.m. The bodies of Haylee and Manilyn were retrieved at 5:40 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday, respectively.
Jacob would have turned seven next month and wanted to throw a pool party for friends.
Jason said he attempted to rush inside to save his family when the tremor struck.
“Tinangka ko pa pumunta [sa loob] kaya lang wala na hindi na ako makapasok. Seconds nga lang po gumuho na ang building. Binubuhat ko na yung mga bato. Wala. Sigaw ako nang sigaw, hindi sila sumasagot,” recalled Jason.
Sanita, Jason’s mother, was still a picture of shock.
“Bakit ang taong mabait sila pa ang kinuha. Ang daming taong mga salbahe. Bakit sila pa?” she asked. “Pagkalindol naalala ko yung anak ko at manugang. Yung kaba ko.”
Jason did not leave the vicinity of the rubble until all the bodies of all his loved ones were recovered.
A 25-year-old old woman, on the other hand, survived the tragedy, but not after having her right leg amputated.
Lourdes Martin said she had a store just right next to the entrance door at the ground floor.
She had been trapped for two hours, her leg pinned by debris from the roof.
“Nung time na naipit ako iniisip ko yung pamilya ko kasi isa po ako sa nakakatulong sa pamilya ko. Kailangan ko mabuhay, kailangan ko gumawa ng paraan. Tiniis ko ‘yun kahit wala na akong dugo,” said Martin, recalling how rescuers cut her leg to be able for them to pull her out of the rubble.
Martin is in stable condition and recuperating at Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando.
Rescuers have been working non-stop to rescue more individuals still believed trapped inside.
Senior Rescuer Antonio Dungo of Pampanga Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office cited the hot weather and lack of sleep as some of the challenges they face in their operations.
“Mahirap talaga basta collapsed building. Mainit, maalikabok. Tinitingnan din namin yung safety ng responders. Pag risky, stop ko, gawa muna ng ibang option, “ he said.
Meanwhile, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said they will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the ill-fated Chuzon Supermarket.
“We have a concern since the building is just four years old. We will give more details after the probe. Results will come out probably in one to two weeks,” he said during his visit at the ground zero. (Ria Fernandez)