FFE Magazine

Typhooon Yolanda: tales of Survival Part IV

A father’s sacrifice

 

13-year-old Mary Jane Bascan still feels the pain on the left side of her neck after being hit by a corrugated tin roof during the height of typhoon Yolanda’s strength two weeks ago. But the pain of loss cut deeper than anything else.

 

Mary Jane and her family are now staying in a RedemptoristChurch, sheltered by social workers, after all their belongings were destroyed by the typhoon. Recalling the typhoon, she said ‘I thought it was the end for us.

 

‘It was so dark and the sky was creepy. If not for Tatay (Father), we might have been killed.’

 

Mary Jane, eldest of five children, drew a figure of her father, Jonathan Bacsan, a pedicab driver, during one of the Philippine National Police’s art sessions for child survivors. Jonathan was killed saving his family in Magallanes village in Tacloban City.

 

With her pregnant mother Maria Agnes and her four siblings beside her, Mary Jane shared his father’s story of sacrifice:

 

They were not prepared when the super typhoon hit the region; they thought it was just another storm they could weather out. Despite her growing belly, Maria Agnes swam with her three younger kids May Joy, 11, Giovanni, 9, and Nina, 2, to safety.

 

Mary Jane grabbed her school project and her father’s earnings and ran upstairs after her family when the waters started to flood the first floor of their house. The family, including some aunts and cousins who sought shelter in the house, crammed on the second floor as the storm surge tore their house apart.

 

Each member grabbed hold of whatever they could to keep from being swept away. Jonathan meanwhile took them one by one and helped them swim to higher ground where it was safer.

 

Mary Jane said ‘I called out to him when I felt I couldn’t keep us alive anymore. I was weak from holding up my brother [Jonathan Junior] above the water. I was almost drowning.’

 

She said she and her brother were the last ones their father saved. But at that point the tin roof fell and hit them. The impact almost knocked her unconscious while Jonathan Junior got shallow cuts and bruises. Both of the kids survived, but the metal sheet’s edge hit their father in the neck.

 

‘We found him later on a piece of plywood near our house’, she said. She remembered that her father looked at each surviving member of his family, took a deep breath then closed his eyes.

 

‘We knew he was dead.’

 

Mary Jane understands that her father was a hero. But she confessed she’d rather have him alive: ‘That’s what happiness means to me. I don’t care if we don’t have anything left as long as we have him with us.’

 

But she also understands that life must go on. Mary Jane said she wants to go back to school and help her mother care for their new sibling.

 

‘I want to make my father proud of me.’

 

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