By Edyta Materka & Lionel Dosdos (translator)
Ronald, 25, and Chijany, 21, are newlyweds living in an All Hands Volunteer home at the Cala’anan Relocation Site. (She didn’t wish to be photographed.) They are making space for their first child due anytime soon. Before Sendong, Ronald was a fish peddler at a public market. They lived in socialized government housing in Davao del Norte.
They barely survived during Sendong due to the flash flood and violent winds. When the flood waters rose, Ronald lifted Chijany and carried her over to safety to a second floor of a neighbor’s house. They watched their first home and valuables—laptop, camera, fishing equipment—wash away. The government declared their development a ‘danger zone’ and relocated them, with compensation, to the West City Central School temporary site. Then they were transferred again to the Cala’anan Tent 3 Site and on July 25th, their names were chosen in the housing lottery that granted them an All Hands Volunteers home.
Pre-and post-Sendong life is drastically different for the newlyweds. Although he hopes to save up the capital to resume fish peddling, he is currently a painter who works for a private business in central Mindanao, a ten-hour drive away. Before Sendong, Ronald was his own boss, whereas now he has a boss. They are adjusting to high transportation costs, humidity, and the prospect of starting all over as a couple. Chijany’s family owns a sugercane plantation where they go during the harvest to supplement their income and hope to transition into housing there in the future.
At the moment, the couple is moving forward instead of dwelling on the past. While the All Hands Volunteer house still belongs to the government, they have just processed the application to claim ownership to the property. “I have heartfelt gratitude for all of the help that has been given to us,” says Ronald, “Even if the situation is different now, I am grateful for the support during this difficult time. Because of them [AHV donors], I can stand up again and rebuild my life”.