Cagayan farmers on Ompong-hit crops: 'Like losing gamble vs nature'

CAGAYAN, Philippines – If they were to describe how they feel about their crops getting damaged by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut), farmers in Cagayan would say it's like losing a gamble against nature.

Ricardo Rumbaua, 48, waited two days for the flood to subside to check on his submerged crops in Barangay Tanza in Tuguegarao City.

Before Ompong's landfall in the wee hours of Saturday, September 15, officials had urged farmers to harvest their crops early to mitigate losses.

But Rumbaua gambled with the chance that the nearby Pinacanauan River would not submerge his crops, and the typhoon would not destroy everything. His harvest was due by the end of October.

But after the typhoon hit, all of his corn crops were submerged due to the swollen river. By that time, he knew he had lost.

"Hindi pa naman puwedeng anihin no'ng time na bago magbaha. Hindi pa puwede talaga, kaya 'yung mais namin, pinabayaan muna namin at nagbakasakali kami na bababa rin kaagad 'yung tubig para hindi masira," Rumbaua said.

(It wasn't possible to harvest the crops before the flooding. It wasn't really possible, so we left our corn as is and we hoped that the floodwaters would go down quickly to prevent damage.)

His hope turned into disappointment as the muddy floodwaters stayed for two days. What was left of the crops had to be harvested still, to prevent further damage.

Now, he expects that he will only get 30% of his target income for this cropping season.

"Parang talo na lang sa sugal. Ganoon na lang ang iniisip natin kasi hindi naman natin hawak 'yung panahon. Kung tatama ka, maganda; kung hindi, okay lang," he said, adding that he also suffered the same fate during Super Typhoon Lawin (Haima) in October 2016.

(It's like losing in gambling. I just think that way because the weather is out of our control. If you win, then good; if not, then okay.)

DESTROYED. Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) flattens crops in Cagayan.

DESTROYED. Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) flattens crops in Cagayan.

Uncertainties

Vin Balad, 59, a resident of Barangay Hacienda Intal in Baggao town, also suffered huge losses after Ompong's strong winds brought down his corn crops.

Like Rumbaua, he's used to gambling against nature.

"Sa ganitong dala ng kalamidad, siyempre ang mga farmers parang nagsusugal 'yun. Ni walang magawa ang mga farmers kapagka natural disaster ang paparito sa atin," Balad said.

(With these effects of calamities, it's like farmers are gambling. Farmers can't do anything when a natural disaster is heading toward us.)

Similar to Rumbaua, Balad expects to get only 20% of his usual earnings.

Moving forward, Balad said he will rely on himself alone to recover from the wrath of Ompong.

"Hindi ako mag-e-expect [ng tulong] sa gobyerno. Kung ano ang makakaya ko na ilalaban sa kahirapan, do'n lang ako nag-rely.... Hindi ako nag-e-expect na galing sa gobyerno ang do'n ako bumangon," he said.

(I won't expect [help] from the government. I'll rely on what I have to fight poverty.... I'm not expecting the government to help with my recovery from this disaster.) – Rappler.com

More on Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut):