Friday, February 7, 2014

Bohol: Symphony of Destruction in Maribojoc

Toppled houses, cracked roads, mountain landslide and an old church reduced to rubble. These are the sights that broke my heart during my recent visit to Maribojoc, Bohol. I went there with my mother to attend the wake of her departed sister.

It was late afternoon  when my cousin Manon Jun took me around the town proper so I could personally see the devastation left behind by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake which struck Bohol last October 15, 2013. Maribojoc,a fourth class municipality about 14 kilometers from Tagbilaran City, is one of the hardest hit towns of the catastrophe.

From our ancestral home, we first went to Maribojoc Church. Upon arriving at the church's compound, I was immediately disheartened with the sight of the collapsed heritage site.

The Holy Cross Parish (Diocesan of Shrine of St. Vincent Ferrer) is a National Historical Commission-declared "National Cultural Landmark". Its adjacent museum has also been recognized as a "National Cultural Treasure". The church's foundation was first laid in 1768 and construction of the  completed 18 years after in 1816. 

I was actually baptized in this church and the nearby Santa Cruz Elementary School was where I studied Grade 1. We used to attend mass here every Sunday and I could still vividly recall its painted ceiling depicting religious artworks. Its imposing belfry which can be seen from the second floor window of our ancestral home, used to greet my eyes every morning.

At the back of the church is the now-damaged Old Stone Stairway. It leads down to the fisherman's wharf locally known as Pantalan. During the Spanish time, this stairway was the main thoroughfare of boat passengers since the wharf is actually an old port or "Dungguan" for sea vessels coming from various points of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

From the church's vicinity, we went down to the pantalan. According to Manong Jun, some of the damaged houses in this area have already been rebuilt. But I was very much surprised to see the portion of the causeway going to the edge of the wharf already submerged in water. This must be because the tremor reportedly caused the coastline of Maribojoc to rise. I felt nostalgic since it is in this portion where I used to go fishing with my cousins.

From the pantalan, the huge landslide in Mount Padhan can also be seen. This mountain is a hiking destination especially during Holy Week. A large cross built on its peak was also toppled down by the earthquake. 

It was getting late, so went back to the "sawang" or Poblacion. But before returning home we made one quick round to see some of the damaged houses. The photos below are blurry since I was backriding on my cousin's motorcycle while taking these shots. We also passed by a tent city set up for the still-homeless folks.

It deeply saddened me to see these toppled houses. I could only imagine the anguish of the homeowners as the fulfillment of their dreams and reward of their hard work were all devastated on that one fateful day of October.

With assistance and relief coming from various sectors, the people of Maribojoc are now starting to rebuild their lives. With their resilience and faith, I believe it won't take long for them to get back on their feet once again.

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