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A family’s effort to rebuild their life after the Taal Volcano eruption

When their life depends on the Taal Lake all these years, starting anew is a huge struggle.

Estelita Gonzales’ family used to be a resident of Brgy. Pulo in Talisay, Batangas Province. The said barangay is situated on the Taal Volcano island, which is apermanent danger zone.

As such, no matter how she and her family long for their life back in the island, they have no choice but to start over.

“Sa totoo lang po, hindi pa po kami makapag-isip pa ng mas konkretong paraan para makabangon dahil simula’t sapul, nakadepende po kami sa aming lugar at sa lawa. Pero wala po kaming magagawa kundi kumayod at magtulungan para sa aming pamilya,” shared Estelita.

Finding ways to start over

Estelita cannot help but be heartbroken thinking about their lost home and their source of income due to the phreatic eruption of the Taal Volcano last January 12, 2020.

Her family is one of the more than 70,000 affected families displaced by the eruption who are still unable to return to their homes.

“Napaluha po ako nung makita namin ‘yung bahay. Wasak na wasak po. Nabagsakan pa po ng puno. Wala na po talaga,” she shared.

From the day of the eruption, her family has transferred from one evacuation center to another to seek shelter. First, they were in Mataas na Kahoy, then in Ibaan and then now in Talisay.

“Mahirap din po ang buhay bakwit. Bukod sa mahirap kumilos dahil hindi namin sariling bahay, wala kaming mapagkaabalahan,” she said.

Back in the island, Estelita’s family relied on fishing and raising hogs to earn a living.

“Inisip na po talaga namin na ‘di na kami makakabalik. Kaya po nag-isip kami ng paraan para kahit papaano ay may pera pa rin kami,” shared Estelita.

Gratefully, her husband is able to save some of their hogs from the island. These hogs are left in the care of their relatives in Lipa City. Once in a while, Estelita travels to the city to attend to the animals.

Meanwhile, her husband went back to fishing in the lake.

They need to continuously earn and save money, especially to support their four children’s education.

Finding help to move forward

According to Estelita, being able to earn money at this time is made possible by the over pouring support from various organizations since the eruption.

“Napakalaking bagay po ng mga tulong sa amin habang nandito kami sa evacuation center. Hindi po kami nagugutom at naalagaan naman po kami. Hindi po namin masyadong intindihin ang gastos. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa suporta nila sa amin,” she shared.

To date, the DSWD has provided a total of PhP 38.83 million worth of assistance to the affected families of the Taal Volcano eruption as augmentation support to the local government units.

For Estelita, the continuous help from the government and private organizations help them focus more on earning and saving money to support their other needs. For this, she is hopeful and grateful.

“Talagang malaking gaan po para sa mga nawalan ng tahanan at kabuhayan,” shared Estelita, whose goal now is to settle into a new home and rebuild their livelihood for their family’s future.#

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