Touring the Devastation: Honolulu Letter Found at Mudslide Site
The silence is deafening at Guinsaugon, more than a month after the avalanche slashed an ugly scar down the mountainside.
Aloha Medical Mission's Dr. Vernon Ansdell observes, "It's overwhelming. One thing I was impressed with when I wandered back there was how quiet it is. I wasn't expecting that. Just the size of this landslide, the size of what fell away from the mountain side, and the area involved down here is unbelievable. It's certainly more of an impact that I thought."
Little evidence remains that a village was ever here. Home-owners scavenge what they can. Small groups visit a mass grave, finding small symbols of horror: a mask and a body bag. The air is scented with death. New rains move the earth to reveal more suffering. Signs of grieving hopefully give way to closure, which will one day yield life again. There are no plans on what to do with this area yet but many say it should be left as is, as a cemetery.
One day, we met a man who could not talk. While rooting through the mud for his documents, he unearthed a mystery: a letter addressed to someone in Honolulu. We may never know who the recipient is, but we do know it's a reminder of the strong tie between Hawaii and the Philippines.