By: *Myra Fe Yesan
Barangay Tamac is situated in the mountain range of Cordillera, estimated at 600 meters above sea level. The community used to be located on the mountainside, but now on the top of the mountains of Sagaba (also known as Paraiso) in Tamac, Villaviciosa, Abra.
On August 18, 2015, Typhoon Ineng (International name “Goni”) entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). While the village folks were tending their rice ponds and vegetable patches, the said typhoon unleashed its fury at around 3:00 pm on August 24, 2015, in Tamac, Villaviciosa, Abra with a massive landslide, which buried the newly planted rice fields and washed out the main irrigation system that fed their fields and surrounding farm lots surrounding the village. This avalanche caused the whole community to be isolated affecting 134 households for several days and forced them to immediately evacuate their homes. Around 50 hectares of land – residential and agricultural – in the barangay and its surrounding – eroded, 2 houses were completely destroyed and most houses were partially damaged, but thankfully no casualties.
Disaster Response Teams from the government and non-government organizations found it hard to deliver relief and other assistance to the upland area.
Kumon, the barangay’s version of Bayanihan, a spirit of civic unity and cooperation among Filipinos, was practiced to hasten recovery. This practice requires every household to send a representative during communal projects and activities that need manpower. So the community gathered together and started clearing the roads heading to each entry point, while the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), helped clear the roads from the lowlands heading up to Tamac. They also found a spring within the relocation site, where they got their additional water supply. And because education is very significant for the children, the community built makeshift classrooms in their relocation site.
Just as they were recovering from the damages brought by Typhoon Ineng, they received another blow on the night of October 19, 2016 when Typhoon Lawin raged while the relocated villagers were still sheltered in tent houses. Trees were uprooted, tent houses were ripped and blown away, and even 2 new wood houses were toppled and totally wrecked.
From the 1st quarter to the 2nd quarter of the year, the community experiences drought. The rest of the year, it experiences monsoon rain and/or typhoon. Before the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) provided the SalinTubig program in June 2017, the people were lining up with their buckets and jugs to get spring water located at Zone 4 of the barangay. But the spring water was not enough for all of them, some villagers had to travel with their jeepneys and/or trucks to the neighboring towns to fetch water for their families’ needs, which cost them so much money and time and effort. Some households had problems with sanitation for not having enough supply of water from the spring and not having enough money to buy water from the neighboring town. So, when the Solar Water Pump System was installed in June 2017, the villagers felt relieved that they had enough water for the rest of the year. However, the villagers noticed that from February to June of 2018, the solar pump could no longer fill the water distribution tank full, which has 240-drum capacity but can only supply 90 drums per zone, during bright, sunny days in 1-2 days, but way much fewer drums during cloudy or rainy days/wet season.
The Baguio Episcopal Area Disaster Management Office (BEA DMO) and the Ilocos North District (IND) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Team conducted a Community-based Contingency Planning (CbCP), which was participated by the barangay leaders and other community members. The BEA DMO and IND DRRM Team convened another meeting with the community leaders. There is a scarcity of water, which starts in the 1st quarter of the year up to the second quarter (drought season), even having a solar pump system, because it doesn’t work at full capacity during this season. Because there have been cases of dengue mosquito infection in the nearby towns, and the people from these areas go to Tamac every now and then. Tamac villagers fear that they may be affected by this mosquito-borne infection. They have received mosquito nets from UMC churches and organizations as relief good in 2015;, however, some of those nets were destroyed during the Typhoon Lawin, the others already worn out. The inclusion of mosquito nets to be distributed to households is a preventive measure from this emerging risk for Tamac community. The BEA-DMO went back to the community to distribute the mosquito nets on December 12, 2019.
As of February 2020, the Mitigation Project: Tamac Solar Water Pump System Upgrade has started with the implementation phase. The Baguio Episcopal Area – Disaster Management Office has been in regular communication and coordination with the community leaders and the project engineer. The community volunteers take part in clearing and paving the roads for the truck materials to get through down to the installation site. As per site visitation last February 19, 2020, the solar panels for the new solar water pump system have been installed. The mitigation project is expected to be completed this May 2020.