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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Survivors remember Guinsaugon tragedy

Seventeen years ago a major tragedy happened in Southern Leyte that caught world-wide attention.
“I’ve lost my mother, two brothers and my sister… Early morning of that day, I was preparing for school, something is bothering me. On my mind, someone keeps pushing me not to go to school but I insisted,” Deasy Libaton Embodo related with sadness.
“Then suddenly we heard the news, at first I feel relieved and thought that the landslide would not hit our barangay, but when they said “Guinsaugon” I almost collapsed.”
“Days had passed I feel lost, alone and always think “what will I do next without them in my life”.
Deasy got the chance to meet her other relatives and told her that her father is still alive.
“Adtong panahona mura kog naglutang sa panganod nga nakakita sa akong tatay nga nagduko ra, nagtinutukay mi ug nidagan ko nija ug ahu sijang gigakos. I feel joyed but unhappy inside “I am relieved that my father is still alive but four of my family members went missing,” Daesy explained.
A second survivor of her family, Madel Monter, has difficulty telling her story because she gets overwhelmed by her emotions.
Deasy and Madel are some of the survivors from thousands of Southern Leyteños who were buried alive on the morning of February 17, 2006, when thundering 1.2 billion cubic meters of rocks, mud, and debris avalanche wiped out the entire 480 hectares of Barangay Guinsaugon in Saint Bernard municipality, Southern Leyte. Before the landslide, a 10-day heavy rainfall and minor earthquake occurred.
The landslide caused the loss of lives of children, students, residents; and houses, schools, agriculture, and other infrastructure.
One study described the Guinsaugon tragedy as the second major landslide in the twenty-first century, and one of the world’s worst landslides with an official death toll of 1,126 from a total village population of 1,856. Hours before the incident, a minor quake occurred in a nearby town which rattled Pacific towns and nearby areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.
During the 17th Year Commemoration of the Guinsaugon Landslide, Vice Governor Rosa Emilia Mercado said, “Bati-on ta og kasakit pero magpabilin gihapon tang lig-on aron mopadajon sa atong kinabuhi bisan pa man sa mga kasakit ug kaguol.” (Even in our painful experiences we should stand firm and continue to live.)
Local officials of Saint Bernard, former DPWH Secretary-Congressman Roger Mercado, and Southern Leyte Second District Congressman Christopherson Yap were also present during the commemoration program.
In Congress, Representative Christopherson Yap principally authored House Bill 5173 declaring the Guinsaugon Eco-Tourism Park as Tourism Destination. Already approved at the Lower House, the Guinsaugon Eco-Tourism Park House Bill was sent to the Senate for consideration and approval.

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