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'I thought that at that time we were going to die'
[January 01, 2013]

'I thought that at that time we were going to die'

Jan 02, 2013 (The Manila Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- NEW BATAAN, Compostela Valley -- The mud-filled Lilipot Daycare Center still reminded her of their death.

Crisencia Timonesa, one of the survivors of Typhoon Pablo (international codename: Bopha) painfully narrated that her cellular phone didn't stop ringing when the rain started pouring on December 3.

"My cellular phone kept ringing because the parents of my students were asking permission if they can use the daycare center as their temporary shelter. Of course, I immediately agreed," Timonesa related.

The 40-year-old daycare teacher said that they didn't expect that the typhoon would dreadfully batter their place because it only started with the usual rainfall. Timonesa said that everything happened so fast and just by matter of seconds she and her family had also evacuated to the nearby grandstand in order to survive.

"We grabbed a few clothes and immediately ran to the nearby grandstand. During those times, I was instructing some of the parents of my students to also evacuate. I thought at that time we were going to die," Timonesa said.

Around 15 of Timonesa's friends who called at the height of the typhoon weren't able to survive, the daycare mom said.

"It is heartbreaking to find out that most of my friends and their families who called me didn't make it. What broke my heart the most was that some of them were my students," Timonesa bitterly recalled.

The next day, Timonesa visited the daycare center and found her classroom filled with knee-high mud. All her school files and the children's books were swamped with mud.

But on top of the devastated classroom, the daycare teacher was disheartened because she knew that some of her students died.

"I'm not interested with material things, all I do care about is my students and their parents but sadly some of them didn't make it. It seems that we've lost everything but the fact that we're still alive just make us see things in a different light. We've learned a lot of things because of this tragedy and we wouldn't forget that," she said teary-eyed.

Helping the teachers and students through providing relief goods and rehabilitating the Lilipot Daycare Center are just some of the reasons behind the initiative of Plan International, a nongovernmental organization that promote child rights, in currently raising an additional $2 million for long-term rehabilitation and recovery efforts in Compostela Valley.

"We aim to help the victims of the Typhoon Bopha in picking up the pieces of their lives again.

On top of the priority list that are needed to address is the rebuilding if their houses and schools so they can resume their classes come January," Plan's country director in the Philippines, Carin van der Hor, said.

"We appeal to the good hearts of our donors worldwide to help us not just in rebuilding their homes and schools but also their future," added van der Hor.

To date, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council accounted that Pablo had affected at least 711,682 families or 6,243,998 people in 3,064 villages in 318 towns and 40 cities in 34 provinces have been affected by Pablo.

The Philippines experiences an average of 20 typhoons every year. A week before Christmas in 2011, Typhoon Sendong (international codename: Washi) hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan--both in Mindanao that left close to 1,500 people dead, over a thousand missing and an estimated $23.8 million damage to property.

___ (c)2013 The Manila Times (Manila, Philippines) Visit The Manila Times (Manila, Philippines) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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