Survivors, victims’ kin mark 2003 Davao airport bombing

Fourteen years on, the survivors and families of the victims of the deadly bombing at the old Davao airport in Barangay Sasa continue to remember the tragic incident that killed 22 people and wounded 114 others on March 4, 2003.

Now 58, Restituto Amparado, one of the rent-a-car drivers waiting for passengers at the time, joined those who lighted candles at ground zero late Sunday afternoon. Another candle lighting activity was held on Saturday, March 4, the anniversary of the explosion.

Amparado, whose leg was amputated, recalled that he was just three meters away when the bomb exploded.

“It was 5:45 in the afternoon and it was drizzling at that time. I was waiting for a passenger of a Cebu Pacific plane that had just arrived,” Amparado recalled.

“I suddenly heard an explosion and the next thing I knew, I was in the hospital, the doctors said that they needed to cut my left leg,” he added.

With three children, Amparado said he was worried because he could no longer return to his job after losing his left leg.

Leo Goc-ong, 56 and a father of two, was a fellow driver of Amparado. He was about to enter his vehicle together with his passenger when the incident took place. His passenger died on the spot.

“I can’t barely move after the explosion, I saw people running and screaming. I checked my entire body and I found blood in my head,” he said.

He recalled that he saw a headless child and some human organs scattered everywhere.

“I saw people dying in front of me,” Goc-ong said.

But for a mother who lost her eldest son during the incident, it feels like the bloody incident just happened yesterday.

Arline Rasay, 62, recalled that it was her birthday and her eldest son Kenneth, who was then 19, was at the airport to fetch his cousin coming from Manila.

“March 4 is my birthday and also his death anniversary, it seems like it just happened yesterday. The pain always remains in my heart,” she said.

To help the survivors and the families of the other victims, the city government extended financial assistance to them.

Then mayor and now President Rodrigo R. Duterte had offered scholarships to more than 100 children of the survivors.

Maria Luisa Bermudo, City Social Services and Development Office chief, said that among the scholars, 23 are finishing their courses.

“The city took care of their children’s studies from kindergarten to college. They have the choice to study in a public or private school,” she said.

Some of the scholars of the city are now architects, teachers, nurses and engineers, among others.

Amparado’s youngest child is now an Information Technology professional, while Goc-ong’s eldest son a licensed engineer.

Every anniversary of the explosion, Amparado and Goc-ong still offer their prayers for those who survived and died in the incident. (PNA)