LOON, Bohol – “Many are called but few are chosen.” This may aptly relates to Shirley “Yangyang” Bongay, 34 and resident of barangay Lintuan in this town, who was invited to be with Pope Francis on January 2015. Loon is one of the earthquake badly-devastated towns whose church and scores of infrastructure and residence are literally in ruins. “Nalipay” (It’s joy) to be with the Pope, Bongay simply told DyTR in an interview yesterday after she’s off from work as a pharmacist at Generics pharmacy along Gallares street in this city. Bongay, who lost her right arm after the tremor last year that toppled their concrete residence, is one of the only five (5) Boholanos who are invited to huddle and dine with Pope Francis come January 2015. The other lucky four are Veneranda “Neneng” Gentallan, a resident of barangay San Roque, Maribojoc town; Salome Israel, Tubigon; Saturnino Barace, Antequera; and Niza Flores, Sagbayan town, Rev. Fr. Warli Salise, parish priest of barangay San Isidro and church-backed social action center director, said in recent interview.
Asked what would be her wish from the Pope, Bongay said she wanted to have her right arm again as she’s trying to cover it with a blue-green scarf she always wears whenever she goes.
She’s hoping prosthetics can bring her arm back soon. Now she’s already used to have her left hand doing different chores at the pharmacy.
Her mother, Severa Bongay, 71, a retired teacher for 34 years, said in separate interview while resting in their newly-built house across the barangay road, that Shirley was inside their house for more than nine hours after the earthquake.
She’s unable to come out from the rubbles that literally enveloped her because her right arm was under the big concrete trusses and post. The family had to secure a genset to use for a gadget in cutting some steel bars that befell on Shirley since there was no electricity at that time, the mother said.
Her sister, Amabelle “Jecjec” Bongay, said that they just gave Shirley some candies while clearing of the debris was going on for hours until it was done and Shirley was pulled from the inside the house. “Jecjec” drove the motorcycle in fetching Shirley home after the interview.
The mother said they lost their PhP2.6 million two-storey concrete house built sometime in 2001 but they lost more of Shirley’s arm. Shirley is her second to the youngest of seven children she and her husband Virgilio, 69 are blessed with.
Severa also had her own ordeal after the tremor. She recalled she struggled to save her own following the collapsed of the upper floor where she was that literally flattened the concrete house on that fateful moment. She said she was able to find a way out by trying to clear debris around her and safe, saying she’s very thankful.
Till now, their house remains intact with debris and land cracks across the property are evident. Repair of the house and clearing the debris were not their immediate concern.
The family just put up two houses made of plywood, wood, cement and hardiflex partitions with G.I sheets roof and a small kitchen and comfort room. The perimeter fence of the new house is made of bamboos unlike the steel bars fence and gate of the collapsed concrete they used to live.