November 1, 2015 (All Saints’ Day) — Gina Supang, 30, lighted candles in two tombstones in Basper, one of the mass grave sites in Tacloban City.
Her son, four-year old boy Greg “Dodong” Supang, Jr. died during the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). The storm surge swept their coastal barangay in Fishermen’s Village, San Jose, Tacloban on November 8, 2013.
Days later, Dodong became part of the thousands of random dead bodies dumped in Basper mass grave site in Tacloban. She placed a tombstone in an empty spot in the mass grave, not knowing if it was truly her child’s body lying underneath the spot.
While still struggling to move on from her loss, Gina bore another angel on January 4, 2015, more than a year since Yolanda. She named her baby Gray Jane “Iday” Supang.
“I was grateful that even if Yolanda took away Dodong, God sent Iday to replace her kuya,” she said.
“But eight months later, Iday, too, joined her kuya in heaven.”
Gina attributes the death of Iday to the inhumane living condition in the small and cramped bunkhouse. Because of too much heat in the bunkhouse, Baby “Iday” had recurringly suffered from cough. Gina said she brought this up to government officers who came to visit the bunkhouse but no permanent shelter was made available to her family.
Last month, Baby “Iday” suffered coughing for three consecutive days.
They brought Iday to three different hospitals but they were just passed from one to another. The first hospital said no doctor was available because it was a Sunday. The second one said they didn’t have enough facilities.
Baby “Iday” succumbed to pneumonia and took her last breath on September 22, 2015 in Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC), the most crowded public hospital in the region.
“Ginhimo nira nga hayop an anak ko” (They treated my child like an animal), she said.
Almost two years of waiting
Gina has been waiting for the promised permanent shelter since January 31, 2014. She said they were among the first batch of occupants in IPI Bunkhouse.
The government conducts a raffle draw to select the households who will be transferred to the permanent housing in Barangay Cabalawan, northern Tacloban. The game of luck has not been favorable to the Supang family.
Asked about her reaction on DSWD Secretary Soliman’s statement that there will no longer be bunkhouses by the end of October, Gina said she has had enough of false hopes regarding the shelter program.
The government promised them that they would only stay in the bunkhouse for six months. It was later extended to another six months to cater the school year. But one school year already passed and they’re still there, almost two years since Yolanda.
“My child already died waiting for that promise of permanent shelter,” she said.
Uncertain living conditions
Gina, a housewife, and her only child left, eight-year old Jamaica Supang, only depend on her husband Greg for living. He works as a driver of PUV bound to Ormoc City, Leyte.
While the exact date as to when they will be transferred to permanent shelter is still unclear, plans for them in the permanent shelter remain uncertain.
Gina was told that the permanent shelter would only be free for five years of their occupancy. After five years, they will be paying Php 200 every month, not inclusive of water and electricity costs, for thirty years. The Php 200 may also increase every year, she said.
Despite uncertainty in the permanent shelter, she still wants to flee the bunkhouse to move on from the pain of her two children’s untimely demise brought by Yolanda and the government negligence.
Today, November 1, she lighted candles in the tombstones of her two angels.