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.
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.
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….