COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
Sogod, Southern Leyte. When Typhoon Bising hit Southern Leyte in 1982, the road from Maasin down south was impassable due to fallen trees that lined across the highway. A few bridges were even badly destroyed. My brother and I had to take a motorized banca from Maasin to Barangay Consolacion in Sogod under the scorching summer heat. That trip was my longest pump boat ride ever. How many hours it took us on the water I cannot exactly remember. But there was no other way of travel then.
One day after that ravaging typhoon, I joined some folks in the barrio in going to Sogod by foot. Again, it was my first time to hike from Consolacion to the town proper. We passed by Concepcion that was the nearest route. We trekked under coconut trees, past rice fields and crossed a few rivers.
When we reached Barangay Concepcion I noticed that the ground we were treading were sandy. It was rather an unusual soil in the midst of trees and bushes, especially when the surrounding land was planted to rice. I asked my companions why the ground was filled with soft sand.
One answered that the soil came from the overflow of the Subang Daku
River during the recent typhoon. She further narrated that a lot of carabaos
were drowned and some were carried by the flood.
That stretch of sandy ground covered a wide area at Barangay Concepcion due to its low elevation. Barangay San Miguel, where the
SubangDakuRiver partly lies as it winds itself out into the sea, is elevated
at a higher ground. We must have walked for several hundred yards on that sandy ground covered with eroded soil as a result of the flood. It was like walking along the beach without the sea.
When we reached Subang Daku, we crossed the river at one of its shallow points near the coast where soil, rocks and driftwood were lumped. The width of Subang Daku River at that time was at least fifty meters long, a few times narrower than the width of the Subang Daku River that we see today, barely twenty-five years have passed.
Which brings me to ask: Why is Subang Daku being widened and deepened through quarrying? That excavated land has been turned into a monstrous water basin with no monitor or safety device. Is it for convenience at the expense of the nearby populace? Or again like logging, big, business? Aren’t there less critical sites to extract gravel and sand for the construction need of the province, for this seems to be the line of defense the provincial head maintains in granting permits to quarry the river.
One time I passed by Subang Daku a part of the cemented road collapsed and gaped at the national highway telling motorists to make a detour. The damage was caused simply by several days of incessant rain
during the wet season and eroded the soil underneath the concrete. A little lack of caution on the part of the driver will easily see his vehicle dive into the water. No roadblocks were set along the curve on the riverside. Only a single roadblock stood before the cracked pavement.
Now, Subang Daku looks so formidable with that wide expanse of low ground. The greater the amount of water it can contain, the greater the pressure it will have on the river banks that no monumental dike where a strong current of water cannot destroy.
Indeed, Subang Daku today does not look like a river to me. It looks more like the sea at low tide—hunasan. With its existing riverbed almost half a kilometer wide, we don’t need another typhoon Bising to realize its destructive capacity and experience another Ormoc in this side of Leyte.