Loss of Life From Landslide in Philippines

Philippine landslide

The outer edges of the Arayat neighborhood were hit hard enough to break down concrete walls. Further inside, the landslide submerged houses to their roof eaves. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

This isn’t an easy entry to write. There’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to share the story of what I saw today. I had heard that 12 people had been killed by a landslide, but it wasn’t until I saw their submerged houses that the reality of that fact hit home.

The Arayat National Park is home to Mount Arayat, a mid-sized mountain that peaks out from mist, standing guardian to a neighborhood of close-set houses at its base. The park’s barracks were no longer needed by the government, so families had moved in, with 10 to 12 families living in each.

On September 26, 2009, when Typhoon Ketsana dropped more rain on Manila in one day than typically received in a month, the excessive water tore away at Mount Arayat’s degraded hillsides. A torrent of mud came tumbling down, wiping houses away and submerging the barracks until all that was left to see was the top roof eaves.

Staff from the local parish told me that a child died in the landslide, as well as a pregnant mother. Having witnessed the extensive damage, I know the neighborhood was fortunate to only lose 12 of its residents and 52 of its houses. But I can’t stop thinking about the child and pregnant mother.

I later learned that one grandmother, two wives and nine children under the age of 16 perished in the landslide.

CRS is working closely with Caritas Philippines to assist those most affected by the two typhoons. CRS has provided our Church partner with $250,000 in private funding to provide emergency food, medicine and kits of essential supplies to 5,000 families in the greater Manila area, assisting more than 30,000 people.

— Debbie DeVoe, CRS regional information officer, reporting from the Philippines

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