The wastelands of Pablo

By now, the world has had a glimpse of the horrors typhoon Pablo has brought on our shores.

It was our first ever typhoon, the Davao Region had for so long not experienced a typhoon, except a typhoon No. 1 signal a couple of years ago. But that didn’t even bring in a lot of rain. Just cloudy skies.

When Davao City was placed under Signal No. 2 amid warnings that typhoon Bopha alias Pablo was a powerful one, there was an air of fear of the unknown… What is Signal No. 2?

Thus, when the day ended with nothing but a few trees toppled down in the mountain areas of the city and a lot of broken twigs at home, I thought that was it.

391961_4354054204302_947429521_nUntil the news trickled in…

Trickled… because communication lines were all cut off, especially in Davao Oriental.

The first news of massive devastation came from Compostela Valley because some communication lines survived there.

It was only on the third day when finally, Cateel, Davao Oriental was reached… from a very long route: Davao City-Panabo, Carmen, Tagum and Mawab in Davao del Norte to Nabunturan, Montevista, Monkayo in Compostela Valley toward Trento, Bunawan, Rosario, and San Francisco in Agusan del Sur, to Bislig, Hinatuan, Barobo, Tagbina and Lingig in Surigao del Sur, before finally reaching Boston in Davao Oriental, where scenes of destruction are already apparent. Coconut plantations, forests, and banana plantations were all flattened… And then… Cateel, Davao Region’s oldest town dating back to the Spanish era.

DSC_1054aA Globe communication tower behind the remains of a gasoline station in the poblacion. The tower fell on a house beside it.

DSC_1063aCoconut trees, now all dead. Stripped of their lives.

DSC_1048aEven the Church was not spared. Not one was spared.

DSC_1051aWhat used to be a two-storey wood and concrete house is now just the ground floor.

DSC_1047aCateel used to have ancestral homes, dating back from Spanish and post-Spanish times. I couldn’t find any except this one.

DSC_1049aA sari-sari store. A big one.

DSC_1050aTwo boys monkeying around as they nailed a discarded sign while their neighbor watches in amusement. There is no electricity in Cateel as power lines were all cut off, electric posts toppled.

DSC_1052aWhat remains of a boutique in what used to be the market area.

DSC_1053aThe poblacion or town center, the very heart of the town where business used to thrive is now nothing but rubbles.

DSC_1056aEven a sparrow didn’t make it.

DSC_1057aAn unpainted coffin is being rushed by a police vehicle to the hospital as we arrived.

DSC_1059aThis is the hospital, and even though it no longer has roof, there are still patients there, and doctors and nurses working in desperation without medicines.

DSC_1061aA gas station and a bus line motorpool.

DSC_1062aA tree is on the hood of a vehicle while the roof of a house is on top of it.

DSC_1064aWhat used to be lush green coconut plantations.

DSC_1068aA house farther down the highway in barangay Macahigad is just as damaged.


On my first visit, I brought two cameras but only had these photos to show for them. I could hardly make myself take photos as the devastation was overwhelming. Not one structure was left standing, all of them destroyed. Homes, businesses, church, schools, hospital, gas stations, the whole marketplace… everything. I returned two days later….


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s