It is evacuation centers/refugee camps like these where we found the oldest and the youngest survivors. Here is their story.
Seventy-three year-old Arsenia Bulasco, the oldest person pulled from the mud, was home alone washing clothes when it happened. "I heard a loud sound coming from the avalanche, coming towards me", she recollects. "The force of the rocks pushed me. The mud buried me up to my neck. In a few seconds all the houses were covered."
Bulasco continues, "I looked up and there were birds flying over, so many birds flying in the sky. Then the rescuers saved me. I feel really sad looking at the place where my house was, completely covered with mud. I'm alone and lonely. My daughter and her 4 children were killed in the avalanche. My son in law was working in the rice fields. When he saw the rocks come, he wanted to save his family, but he couldn't get there. He climbed a coconut tree and lived."
Meanwhile, 23 year-old Anthony Insol, Senior was also working the rice fields. Insol recalls, "I was on the mountain working at the abaca plantation." But his wife and child were home.
Insol laments, "I cried when I saw the place where my house was, covered in mud. I was sure my family was in there."
Insol found out later, "The mud pushed my wife and baby out of the house one kilometer. The baby was buried up to his neck for 2 hours, until my neighbor found the baby and carried him to a rice paddy."
When father and son were reunited, it was, he says, a miracle. "I couldn't believe my baby was alive."
One and a half year-old Anthony Insol, Junior is the youngest survivor of the disaster. His mother Mira died. Father Anthony remembers, "She was pretty. She had long hair and was industrious. She did the cooking, cleaning, and washing. I was really depressed. Sometimes I cry when I think about what happened." Anthony, Jr. was treated for cuts on his face and body.
Anthony, Sr. expresses his thanks. "I'm so grateful for all the help from the Medical Mission and from Hawaii Filipinos." He now sets aside his grief, and finds a reason to live in his child's eyes. "I just play with my child so I don't think about the pain and sadness. I feel I have to live now to take care of the baby."
As for Arsenia Bulasco, memories of that horrible day still haunt her. "I'm afraid it will happen again.", Arsenia worries. "I pray that it won't. I cry when I remember my daughter and grandchildren."
She will soon live with two of her remaining children, who returned to St. Bernard after the landslide. "I'm happy when I see my daughters that are here", she says.