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The Earthquake the World Forgot

Exposito Guimalan, a professional carpenter supervising construction of houses after the Bohol earthquake, measures before making a cut. Photo: Simon Chambers

October 15, 2014

By Simon Chambers

On October 15, 2013, the earth began to shake on Bohol Island in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines.  Fortunately, the island was celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha, which meant that schools and businesses were closed, and minimized the number of casualties during the quake.  Even still, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake damaged over 70,000 buildings, destroying 14,500 of them entirely.  Over 200 people lost their lives and another 877 were injured.

This was the deadliest earthquake to hit the Philippines since 1990.  But just 3 weeks later, it was eclipsed by Typhoon Haiyan, a storm which captured the eyes of the world, and diverted both international and Philippine relief efforts to coping with the destruction.  Even the Bohol People’s Art Development Center (BPADC) said, “…after Typhoon Yolanda [known as Haiyan internationally], Bohol was stricken out of priority to give way to typhoon wrecked areas where our brothers and sisters needed more help.”

But the reconstruction work continued.  PWRDF partners BPADC and FARDEC, the Farmers’ Development Center kept working with communities to help rebuild houses and find ways to support their families.

Liselle and her son Liobert.  Photo: Simon Chambers
Liselle and her son Liobert. Photo: Simon Chambers

Liselle was 5 months pregnant on October 15, 2013 with her son Liobert.  When the earthquake started, she was scared and ran outside her house, which was damaged by the rockslide triggered by the quake.  Her finger was broken by a falling rock, but she was otherwise unscathed.

She moved in with family living nearby while Exposito “Expo” Guimalan, a professional carpenter, works with members of her community to rebuild her home.  The full-time carpenters are aided by volunteers from the community who contribute to the reconstruction of their homes by helping each other to do the necessary unskilled labour on their houses.

“I am excited for our new house,” Liselle said.  She and 99 other home owners are thankful that PWRDF and its partners did not forget the people affected by the October 2013 earthquake.

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