Traumatized Taal survivor wants to relocate, if given the chance

'HELP US'. Taal evacuee Mary Grace Barrion asks the government to help them rebuild their lives. Rappler screenshot

'HELP US'. Taal evacuee Mary Grace Barrion asks the government to help them rebuild their lives.

Rappler screenshot

MANILA, Philippines – Trauma haunted Mary Grace Barrion after the Taal Volcano in Batangas began erupting on Sunday, January 12. 

Barrion, 23, told Rappler that if she and her family would be offered relocation, she would grab it. She lived in Barangay Alas-as in the municipality of San Nicolas with her husband and 3-year-old daughter.

“Hindi ko na po gustong tumira doon dahil ayaw ko po na dumating sa punto na mapahamak ang pamliya ko,” Barrion said. (I don’t want to live there anymore because I don’t want us to reach the point where the family would suffer.)

San Nicolas is in the vicinity of the Taal Volcano, within the 14-kilometer danger zone. It is one of the 11 towns in the province which are completely locked down. Evacuated residents had tried to return to their homes to save belongings amid the continuing threat of a major volcanic eruption.  (READ: Taal Volcano's 2020 eruption: What we know so far)

‘Back to zero’

Barrion recounted how the Taal Volcano started spewing ash that late Sunday afternoon, covering their home and washing away their livelihood. They rushed to a boat to escape from the island. 

“Sobrang lakas po ng usok na sa hanggang umiitim na po, tapos eh kumikidlat na, doon po nagmumula sa bulkan. Malungkot po, lahat ng aming pinaghirapan at naipundar ay wala na po,”  Barrion said.

(The smoke got thicker until the sky became dark. There was lightning coming from the volcano. I’m sad because the fruits of our labor were gone.)

Two weeks since they evacuated their home, Barrion lamented about the government's supposed lack of plans for them.

“Wala pa ring sinasabing plano ang gobyerno para sa amin. Gusto na rin namin umalis sa evacuation center para makapagsimula ulit,” she said. (The government has not laid out any plans for us. We want to leave the evacuation center so we could start again.)

Her only wish is for the government to help them rebuild their lives since many of them have lost their homes and livelihood.

"Gusto ko lang sabihin sa gobyerno na sana matulungan 'nyo kami sa karamihan ng tao doon na nawalan ng hanapbuhay at bahay at walang babalikan. Sana dinggin 'nyo po ang mga pangangailangan namin at matulungan 'nyo po kami," Barrion said.

(I just want to tell the government, I hope you could help us, since many of us have lost livelihood and homes. We have nothing to return to. Please pay attention to what we need and help us.)

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported on Friday, January 24, that Taal Volcao's continuing eruption has affected at least 88,842 families or 346,244 individuals in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Quezon. – Rappler. com


Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.