On the morning of 15 October 2013, a 7.2-magnitude killer earthquake struck Bohol and its adjoining provinces. With an epicenter plotted some 6 kilometers southwest of the town of Sagbayan, this was by far the most devastating quake to have ever hit the province; with 211 recorded deaths, 877 injured and 8 missing.
Damages to government and commercial buildings, tourist spots, key roads and bridges, vital businesses and homes were estimated to reach billions of pesos.
The quake was caused by a fault previously unknown to our PHIVOLCS authorities. The killer quake was said to have the energy equivalent to 32 Hiroshima bombs.
Hardest hit were the towns located in the western part of Bohol, including Maribojoc, Loon, Tubigon, Calape, Clarin, Inabanga, Buenavista, Danao, Sagbayan, Catigbian, San Isidro, Antequera, Balilihan and Cortes. Damages were also reported in Tagbilaran City and in the southern municipalities of Loboc, Carmen, Lila, Valencia, Albuquerque, Baclayon and Loay.
The national and local government, together with international as well as local NGOs, private companies and social organizations, worked swiftly to provide immediate relief for the victims. Many of the victims in the far-flung barangays were isolated for days without adequate food and water, and minus a roof on top of their heads.
Government workers, military forces and volunteers rushed to move supplies to Tagbilaran for packing, and then to the towns and isolated barangays for distribution. International organizations, NGOs and local groups worked feverishly together to provide immediate relief for Bohol. They formed Bangon Bohol, a union of well-intentioned groups and individuals with the sole purpose of helping the Boholanos get back on their feet.
Bangon Bohol’s biggest problem was the devastation caused by the sheer number of damaged homes in the 17 municipalities. Close to 25,000 tarps and tents were immediately distributed all over the disaster-stricken areas by NGOs and other groups such as the Philippine Red Cross, in coordination with the DSWD. Still, initial province records revealed that there were 8,083 totally damaged houses, while 34,688 were partially damaged. These were truly daunting figures indeed for the Bangon Bohol group.
Among those who heed the call was Habitat for Humanity Philippines. The nightmare stories of the Bohol earthquake – of death, devastation and despair – compelled Habitat Philippines to once again roll their sleeves and shift focus from their regular house construction projects to disaster rehabilitation assistance for the victims. All told, Habitat CEO Charlie Ayco would commit to an ambitious dream of building 8,083 permanent shelters, the exact number of totally damaged houses reported to the provincial government of Bohol. This would be in partnership with government and non-government entities such as the NHA, DSWD, plus other well-meaning private companies; all under the guidance of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR).
Last May 3, a Youth Build activity was organized to gather young people to be a part of Habitat’s effort to ‘Rebuild Bohol’. Led by Habitat’s Program Manager for Bohol, Vince Delector, the project was aimed to remind everyone of the ongoing plight of Bohol’s quake victims, and to draw a commitment from the youth to help in the reconstruction effort. And with the presence of Habitat ambassadors such as actor-director Cesar Montano and popular basketball player Chris Tiu, the symbolic ceremony drew thousands of supporters for the project with the theme: Tagbo, Tukod, Tana (Let’s meet, let’s build, let’s go!!!) It was a great effort to remind the world of the plight of thousands of Boholanos who had been rendered homeless on that fateful October morning. It will be recalled that shortly after the earthquake, Super Typhoon Yolanda had pummelled the neighboring provinces of Samar, Leyte, and Cebu, barely missing the quake-ravaged Bohol. With this bigger, more brutal catastrophe, the bigger effort was refocused to Leyte and Samar, and the other typhoon-devastated islands. Even Bohol had to send Rebuild Bohol relief goods to the succor of its neighboring province, Leyte. It is a credit to Bohol’s leadership that despite their own problems, they were still able to launch a magnanimous effort to help Leyte during those difficult days. Hats off to Gov Edgar Chatto and company. But much remains to be done in Bohol. The recent Typhoon ‘Seniang’ that greeted Boholanos right before the arrival of 2015 may not have been as fierce as last year’s Yolanda or as deadly as the killer quake, but it only served to highlight the difficulties and the challenge up ahead in our efforts to rebuild Bohol. The typhoon brought unprecedented floods, and the old cracks on the road brought about by the killer-quake have resurfaced. Notwithstanding the damages to private property and agriculture, the unfinished business of reconstructing damaged churches and artifacts, buildings and bridges, stare at us right in the face.
That said, it is time to help Bohol, guys. Come join us as we continue to help ‘Rebuild Bohol’ this 2015.