Friday, August 22, 2014

Compostella Valley: Glimpses of New Bataan, Two Years After Typhoon Pablo

New Bataan is part of Compostela Valley province in the southern part of Mindanao. This quaint municipality previously hogged the headlines being the hardest hit town during the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo on December 4, 2012. With more than 400 casualties, New Bataan registered the highest death toll among the towns hit by Pablo. Most of those who died came from Barangay Andap, a barangay which nestled at the mountains foot.

A recent work related assignment took me to the Municipality of New Bataan. We went there to inspect the area where a hydro power plant will be built. From Davao City, we traveled two and a half hours aboard our client's Isuzu D-Max to reach New Bataan.

Upon arriving at the town proper, we first made a courtesy visit to the Office of the Municipal Mayor. But since the Mayor was out of town, we were entertained by the Municipal Adminstrator. He gave us insights as to how the power plant project will benefit their community. He also narrated some harrowing tales of the tragedy that struck them two years ago and how the people are now slowly getting back on their feet.

The Municipal Hall of New Bataan

New Bataan Gymnasium
Town Proper

From the municipal hall, we then proceeded to Barangay Andap. The village is located about 5 kilometers from the town proper. Our truck ride stopped at our client's staff house and from there we would inspect the project site on foot.

We walked through a unpaved barangay road then crossed to Sitio Taytay through the makeshift bridge over Maa River. According to the project engineer, Typhoon Pablo' wrath diverted the river's flow a few meters away from its original path. The flow of debris also washed away the concrete bridge and temporarily isolated the sitio after the catastrophe.

Remaining portion of the concrete bridge swept away by Typhoon Pablo
After crossing the bridge, we met a Skylab, Compostela Valley's version of the habal-habal. The Skylab is a passenger motorcycle installed with wooden wings on both side allowing it to carry more passengers. 

I was very much impressed with the driver's balancing skill as he crossed the dilapidated bridge: 

We passed by the dwellings of Mandaya people, the indigenous tribe of New Bataan. They knew our companions well. One man even asked when will the project start as it will generate employment and livelihood for their community. 

The trail became more narrow as we continued our hike. Fortunately, the overcast skies spared us from the noontime heat. We met four more Skylab motorcycles carrying abaca fibers and other goods. According to our guide, they came all the way from the far flung barangay of Manurigao.

After about 1.5 kilometers from where we started our hike, we finally came to a clearing where we can already view the area where some of the project's improvements will be built. There we rested and took some photos.

I was awed by the sight of the rocky river bed on the foreground, a clean river flowing on its side and the green mountains from afar. It made me think that somewhere out there are exciting trails and  probably hidden waterfalls waiting to be explored. 

We then went back to the staff house, ate lunch and continue to interview the project engineer with regards to the technicalities of the power plant. After getting the necessary information, we decided to head back to Davao City.

Students from a nearby school playing during their lunch break

However, before going back to New Bataan proper, our guide took us first to what he called the "Ground Zero" of Brngy. Andap. It is the place swept and buried by the swift moving flow of water, boulders, gravel and sand. 

A cross and a concrete marker bearing the names of those who perished was built as a memoriam. Nearby, the Tower of Light, designed by Mindanao prolific artist Kublai Millan, stood beside San Roque Chapel. Inspired by the biblical story of Noah and the Great Flood, the tower is patterned after the shape of a dove and a flame. It was built not only to honor the memory of those who died but also to give flicker of hope to those who survive.

1 comment :

  1. Your published blog is full of useful information and your shared photographs invites me to visit this place again. I visited this place two years ago. Now after reading your post my I decided to visit there again to recall my memories after my american east coast tours to enjoy the natural beauty of this region,


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