Amid Philippine volcano evacuee's hardship, babies give joy

Amid Philippine volcano evacuee's hardship, babies give joy

LIGAO CITY - The cries of new born babies broke the chatter in an evacuation centre for people who had been moved out of harm's way as Mayon Volcano continued to show signs of erupting.

They were music to the ears of Veronica Bongayon, 30, who gave birth to twins in a shelter where she, her husband and five children had moved to on orders of provincial government authorities.

"Although life is hard, I am thankful for this," she said, shortly after giving birth to the twin boys an hour apart, fighting back tears.

Veronica's first baby was born in the shelter. The second came in a hospital.

She didn't know there were two babies at first. After she gave birth to the first, she was taken to the Jose Belmonte Duran Memorial District Hospital for postnatal checkup.

At the hospital, midwife Susana Bayta said she felt "something inside" Veronica's womb - another baby.Both babies turned out to be healthy. The first weighed 2 kg and the second weighed nearly the same.

According to Bayta, the trip to the hospital saved Veronica's life. "She was very pale and about to collapse," said Bayta of Veronica.

Veronica said she is worried for her other children in the evacuation centre, where diseases are starting to spread and being blamed on the hot temperature inside the shelter.

She had accepted the fact, however. "We can't do nothing but stay," she said. "The volcano is unpredictable," she added.

Veronica and her family had stayed in the village of Amtic, which is inside the expanded 6-8 km radius danger zone around Mayon.

Her husband, she said, had seen their new babies but can't stay to help care for them because he had to check on the family farm.

Glenda Ramirez, health worker at the city health office, said at least 32 pregnant women are in shelters and being cared for by health workers like her.

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