BRGY. ANTIPOLO, Pontevedra – Beside the provincial road, if one faces east, an uprooted mango tree lies.
Its branches already wilted, leaves stripped almost a month after Odette, a Category 5 storm roared across the province a week before Christmas eve of 2021.
That tree is on a downward slope of the road that starts to curve right, the part where drivers usually start to hit the brakes.
On 14 January 2021, Ermie Gregorio and her son, JR, were saved by that tree when a truck loaded with sugarcane missed the curve and plunged headlong into their house.
Only a portion of the roof was hit.
A dog in the kitchen died.
Exactly a year later yesterday, 14 January 2022, Ermie and JR were asleep early in the morning around 1am when Henry Salgado was driving a 10-wheeler truck.
Radio reports said the trailer was loaded with an estimated 40 tons of sugarcane loaded onto it in La Castellana town.
Salgado, a man in his 40s from Binalbagan town, failed to make the curve to the right and drove his truck straight into the house.
As he did so, the trailer tipped to the left and spilled its contents on the small concrete house, destroying it and crushing the people inside.
Hours later, after they were found inside the mess of canes, wood and other belongings, JR was found dead.
At the government-run hospital where his mother was rushed, doctors declared her dead.
She was 58, her son, 30.
They died exactly a year later after they escaped death.
They died on a tiempo suerte, the harvest season of the sugar industry in Negros Occidental.
Salgado’s child, eight, whom he brought to work, said he had been drinking almost the entire day before he got to work.
“That kid can’t lie, he was drunk,” Jerry Gregorio told DNX as he looked at what was once his sister’s house.
He added her husband was at the “uma,” when the incident happened, referring to a nearby piece of land that they have been tilling.
“I have been urging her to come live there before this happened,” he said in Hiligaynon.