(Moved from my old blog)
In 2011, I braved Payatas.
I went there alone, looking for someone who saved lives in a trashlide tragedy that killed hundreds of people 15 years ago.
They pointed me to Jose Sauro, a resident of Lupang Pangako that was heavily affected by the catastrophe.
“It was eight in the morning”, he recalled, “when someone shouted that the mountain of garbage was about to collapse, I didn’t think about my house, I thought about my neighbours.”
The trashslide lasted for minutes but instead of keeping himself safe, he ran as fast as he could, back to his neighbourhood to possibly save anyone who could be buried alive. He dug the place with his bare hands until he found a man beneath scraps and a woman who hid inside a drum, almost got bald because of the heat inside.
He asked others’ help to send them to the hospital. He recognized the face but he didn’t know their names. He knew they survived but he didn’t know where they are.
I researched online and had known that most people affected by the devastation were evacuated in Montalban. Off I went. I found a lead but I wasn’t able to meet them. I forgot why I didn’t manage to speak to the man. But the woman- residents there told me she lives near the dumpsite in Montalban.
The roads on the way there are difficult to traverse. We would need to hitch a ride with a dump truck. It was a bit scary.
My segment producer decided not to pursue. After all, we still believe Jose is a hero even to people he doesn’t know well.