By Ria Fernandez
Jason Dela Cruz had just let out of his tricycle his family at the Chuzon Porac Supermarket and was headed for the parking lot when the ground shook a little past 5 p.m. Monday.
Screeching to a halt, he immediately thought of his wife Manilyn and his children – Jacob, 6, and one-year-old Haylee, and looked back at the supermarket.
Jason could hardly believe his eyes.
What used to stand just a few moments ago as a four-story building was now all but a cloud of ash hiding a huge heap of stone, cement, and steel grills.
And underneath all that debris was his family.
“Tinangka ko pa pumunta [sa loob] kaya lang wala na hindi na ako makapasok. Seconds nga lang po gumuho na ang building. Binubuhat ko na yung mga bato. Wala. Sigaw ako nang sigaw, hindi sila sumasagot (I attempted to get inside but I could not enter anymore. It was just a few seconds when the building collapsed. I lifted the rocks. None. I shouted and shouted, they were not answering),” a shattered Jason said.
Jacob would have turned seven on the first week of May, and Jason was planning to throw a pool party for his family, relatives and friends.
It took a few hours before rescuers were able to retrieve Manilyn, Jacob and Haylee, and Jason’s heartfelt more devastated after he could hardly recognize any of them due to the injuries they sustained from all that solid debris that came down on them.
“Hindi ko po alam ang gagawin ko matapos nito…dapat sinama na nila ako (I don’t know what to do next after this. I wish they had me with them),” he said.
Jason’s mother Sanita was also in grief upon learning of the tragedy.
She recalled how her daughter-in-law had told her that she was treating her to merienda as Haylee’s happily danced before her.
“Pagkalindol naalala ko yung anak ko at manugang. Yung kaba ko (When it jolted, I remembered my son and daughter-in-law. I got nervous) ,” she said.
“Bakit ang taong mabait pa sila pa ang kinuha. Ang daming taong mga salbahe. Bakit sila pa? (Why do kind ones die? There are so many bad people. Why them?)” she added.
Meanwhile, Lourdes Martin, 25, luckily survived the tragic incident. She had a store just right next to the entrance door at the ground floor, and was trapped for two hours after everything crumbled around her at the height of the temblor.
The only way to save her was to amputate her right leg which was pinned down by rocks that fell from the roof.
“Nung time na naipit ako iniisip ko yung pamilya ko kasi isa po ako sa nakakatulong sa pamilya ko. Kailangan ko mabuhay, kailangan ko gumawa ng paraan. Tiniis ko yun kahit wala na akong dugo (When I got stuck, I was just thinking about my family because I am one of those who is helping our family. I have to live. I have to make a way. I endured being stuck even if I ran out blood), ” Martin said in teary eyes.
Martin is already in stable condition and recuperating at Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando.
Rescuers are working non-stop in locating undetermined number of trapped individuals and retrieved bodies.
Senior Rescuer Antonio Dungo of Pampanga Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office cited the hot weather and lack of sleep as some of the challenges they face in their operations.
“Mahirap talaga basta collapsed building. Mainit, maalikabok. Tinitingnan din namin yung safety ng responders. Pag risky, stop k gawa muna ng ibang option (It is really difficult when it is a collapsed building. It is hot, dusty. We are also considering the safety of our responders. If it is risky, we tell them to stop or do other options), ” he said.
Public Works and Highways Sec. Mark Villar said they will conduct a thorough investigation to determine what could be the cause of Chuzon’s devastation.
“We have a concern since the building is just four years old. We will give more details after the probe. Results will come out probably in one to two week,” he said during his visit at the ground zero.