As women started to crowd the barangay hall in Naga-Naga, an older woman who was at the back tried so hard to get her name listed by the DSWD personnel. Zenaida was one of the many who were displaced by the military operations against some so-called lawless elements who were believed to be in a small community in Payao.
Zenaida along with her family and blind mother quietly lives in a house by the sea. They rely mainly on agal-agal (seaweeds) which they patiently tend until five days ago when they were forced to leave their house due to fear, and put themselves at the mercy of others to survive.
With naval speedboats continuously circling the coastal villages and damaging the delicate agal-agal, Zenaida seriously entertained the idea of leaving their humble abode. Leading her children and her blind mother, they huddled in their small banca as she helped her husband row to nearby Naga-Naga.
The chairperson of the barangay who happens to be a woman could not afford to turn her back on the evacuees. With the elementary school lacking basic amenities like water and toilets, she called on her constituents to empathize with the evacuees and accommodate them in their homes. Residents of the barangay, poor as they are, willingly offered their homes to the evacuees coming from different neighboring barangays.
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