It was heart-wrenching to see homes turned into rubble and one can only imagine the magnitude it took to shake these concrete structures down. Many residents were living in tents put up in open field with signs asking for food and water. As in many rural areas, many of the dogs would be seen in the streets or tagging along behind their owners as they tried to go about their farming or line up for relief distribution in the town halls. Generally, the dogs were in good condition and valued as part of their families. For a few of the dogs and cats that the team encountered, they were still skittish and showed signs of nervousness – probably from the initial shock of the earthquake or having to continually feel the aftershocks on a daily basis.
The team met Lucina and Albert who had two dogs and some pigs – amidst their house which was in ruins but they still greeted the team with smiles. They recalled to us how terrified they were when the earthquake struck and prayed that all family members were safe – including their pet dogs and pigs. We also met a man from Sagbayan, who had 16 cats. He was very happy to receive the food we could give his cats but then, he sadly turned to the rubble of what used to be his kitchen and dining area. When we asked about it, he said that one of the kittens didn’t escape the wall that fell on it. He then turned to the cats that were now feeding and started to call all of them by name. He still managed to give us a smile and a wave of thank you as he saw us off.
Since the team had little time left on Day 2, only an approximation can be made of the towns along the way. In the towns of Antequerra, Maribojoc, and the other side of Loon, there were about 180 dogs, 30 cats, and 30 farm animals like cattle, goats, and carabaos.
In the next few weeks the PAWS-IFAW team will identify local groups in need of animal food to distribute throughout the disaster area.
The team left Bohol bringing with them the appreciation and gratitude of the Boholanos they met along the way with the sympathy and whatever little relief the team had brought with them. What will always be remembered by the team are the warmth, resilience, the positive-outlook, and the sincerity of the people of Bohol. They may have encountered such a devastating tragedy but definitely, the Boholanos will transcend this. As they say, “Bangon Bohol” (Rise Bohol).
By May Angela Felix-Razon
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