Marino Latina, a 66 year old doting husband of 60 year old Vicenta, a “Tatay” (dad)) to 5 siblings and a grandpa to 17 grandchildren was born in the place. Since birth the longest he was out of Batug was only three (3) days when he paid a visit to a close relative in Samar sometime in the past. He’d been a 3-termer barangay councilman of Batug from 1994 to 2007. Despite encouragements from supporters to run for barangay chairman after his last term as councilman, Tatay Marino refrained because “diri ako madalagan pagka-kapitan kay grade six la it ak gin eskuelahan. An kinahanglan nga da nga madalagan an ada gin eskuelahan” (I am only an elementary graduate and fitting for that post are those who have had enough education). Both of Waray heritage, Tatay Marino and Nanay (mom) Vicenta exchanged “yes, I do’s” on the valentines day of 1971.
Tatay Marino narrated his encounter with the tropical storm Yolanda: “Most of us barangay folks were taking refuge at Batug Elementary School when at around 4 am at dawn of November 8 the whistling gust of TS Yolanda hovered above, aground and everywhere in barangay Batug. Being a veteran to many storms in the past, bragging aside, such usual feeling of anxiety was evident inside me. But the moment I realized what was then happening was much mightier than the previous typhoons the usual anxiety in me turned into extreme fear. The same emotion was reflected in the eyes, gestures, and gasps of everyone inside the school room, old and young alike.”
“In seven (7) hours or so one’s sense of hearing and feel predominates the other senses in absorbing the unwelcome sounds and impacts of falling trees and electric power posts, corrugated roof sheets being forced out of houses and buildings including those of the room we were at, light material abodes uprooted and thrown afar, and the likes, interspersed with the swooping, whistling, screeching, and slapping sound of the rushing wind and heavy downpour. What meets the eye when I tried to peep outside was kind of a spreading heavy smoke at dusk time where you can never tell what ’s before you four (4) feet away.”
“By noontime when the typhoon had passed, the men including myself were the first to step out of the school to check around. Each of us seemed lost and almost in unison, asked: Amu ba ini an atun barangay? (Is this our barangay?). We could not immediately locate our homes because the landmarks we used to have were all gone. Nothing was in its supposed order. Not a single house was fully standing or recognizable nor was there a sight of any semblance of roofing. Debris of crumpled and sliced corrugated roof sheets, broken walls, posts, lumbers, household paraphernalia are anywhere. Fallen trees predominated by coconuts covered the entire barangay rendering all roads and human trails un-passable.”
“In reaching the school before the typhoon it took us only about 30 minutes by foot but after the typhoon it took me almost two (2) hours, even with the adrenalin rush,to reach the site where our house used to stand, hurdling and even crawling upon overlapping fallen coconut stands.“Blankly staring on what remained of our humble abode I was not able to hold my tears. Six coconut stands knocked it to the ground already devoid of its roofing. At the backdrop are amputated coconut trunks which upper halves are laying on the ground. It made me asked myself aloud: Anu ba ini hiya nga Yolanda baga hin may dara nga chainsaw? (What kind of typhoon is this Yolanda it seemed carrying with it a chainsaw?)”
“The house is inside the one (1) hectare farmland I inherited from my mother. Three of my married children also settled and built their homes inside the lot. My house which served as the ancestral home is much durable and spacious having a floor area of 16 by 24 feet. Also, nothing is left of my children’s houses.”
“The lot is our main source of livelihood, including my children and grandchildren. Inside the lot were eighty eight (88) coconut trees, 73 productive while 15 still young and not yet productive. The Yolanda storm left us but only one (1) full coconut tree standing which is still currently recuperating. The coconuts supposed to provide us an average quarterly net income of Php 4000.00. Additional income is derived from meager sales from corn and short gestating vegetables that we plant in the vacant spaces within the lot. The income is not even enough for the very basics of our needs that’s why except for my youngest son who is already fourth year high school this coming school year the rest of my children ended up as my farm helps after graduating sixth grade in the elementary level.”
Nanay Victoria has this to share: “Our family is devotee to our Santa Krusan tradition, but in a very short while in the aftermath of Yolanda one question quickly came to my mind though it also quickly went away: anu daw an amun nabuhat na sala kay anu nga gin kastigo kami han Ginoo? (What failing have we committed to be penalized by God this way?). We find it hard to imagine to imagine how we are going to start all over again, but if this is indeed a test, we are willing to accept the challenge for the sake of our children and grand children, despite our old age. Just how we wish that we be helped out in re-establishing a house where we can at least take a dignified respite, as we face the real challenge of working out our livelihood and the future of our children and grandchildren.”