12 January 2012
Happy 2012, everyone!
Here's to a better, a greater, a fuller and a more wonderful year for all of us! May God bless us the whole year round! Let's all stay positive! Good vibes, good vibes! :)
So, what's been going on?
Well, I certainly hope that all the negativity and bad things end with 2011! Goodbye, negativity! Goodbye, bad vibes! *winks*
The year, 2011, ended tragically for some of us here in Mindanao. Typhoon Sendong hit Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City and some other places, killing hundreds of people, destroying millions worth of property, tearing thousands of families apart, etc. It was on the eve of December 17, 2011. That fateful night.
The Sendong Experience
I was actually in Cagayan de Oro that night as I was supposed to have classes that Saturday. We got there Friday evening, that's December 16th, and it was raining. It was a cold night, which does not really happen often in Cagayan de Oro, especially from the point of view of one like me who comes from MSU-Marawi, the so-called "little Baguio of the South" due to the cold weather we enjoy. As soon as we got off the bus, the power went out. On our way to the dorm, we saw that there were parts of the city that had power still. I was hoping we had power at the dorm since I had some reading to do. But, as we got near the Xavier University, our dorm being a few meters away from the university, we saw to our disappointment that only those establishments that had generators had power. We continued with our evening like we would any other evening. We had dinner out, despite the rain, as there wasn't food at the dorm. We came back and, using candles, I started reading.
After some hours of reading and chatting with my roommate (Ayie) and another friend (Hany), Ayie got a call from her cousin, who resided in Balulang, who said that they were up on their roof because water had risen. She told Ayie that cars and so many other things were already floating. We were shocked to learn of this because in the place we were in, except for the power interruption, the rain and the strong wind, it was like any ordinary night. We couldn't even picture what Ayie's cousin was describing. We even thought she was joking, except that we had to take her word because she was in tears.
So, I went to class in the morning and there I heard about what transpired the previous night. Stories of experiences and horrible sights were getting from worse to worst! The descriptions were just unbelievable! After a few hours of waiting, we finally decided to head home as classes would obviously be postponed. My friends (Mats and Ton) and I decided to hit the bookstores as we wanted to check out some titles. Obviously, the impact of what had happened didn't sink in to us yet at this moment. We went to Lim Ket Kai Mall and we saw that there were a lot of people there. It was a normal mall day. So, we didn't think much of the typhoon although we kept receiving word about how the typhoon devastated the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. That's difficult to believe and absorb, though, when you're inside Booksale and you have your head buried under those shelves looking at books, examining them and discarding some.
We only started to really feel the impact of the typhoon the next day, Sunday, when we were on our way home to Marawi. What we saw on the way really shook us to our very core. We weren't prepared for the things we saw. We couldn't believe it! There we were strolling at the mall the day before and just chatting the night before while these people were struggling to stay alive! The sights we passed were just shocking and disheartening! Traumatic! We saw so many houses, cars and other properties ruined, we saw dead bodies by the side of the street, some being hauled onto trucks! It was unforgettable.
All we could do was utter prayers. All I could think about was my family and how thankful I was that, though two of my siblings and some of our cousins and aunts were affected by the flood in Iligan, no one in the family got hurt. They did lose most of their things due to the mud and the neck-deep flood water, though. That was when I realized how lucky and blessed we were. Had we come a little later than we had that evening we came to Cagayan de Oro, our bus would have been toppled down by the rain and the strong wind! We could've met the flood on our way! And, that was when I decided and vowed to help the victims and survivors of Typhoon Sendong in whatever way I can.
When we got home, I busied myself in trying to fulfill that little promise I made. We (our org and some others) were able to collect so much donations (in cash and in kind) from so many good-hearted people. We also saw so many willing volunteers. Together with some faculty members and college staff, I volunteered for the PeaceBuilders Community in their relief operations. We went to Iligan for that. I've done some volunteer activities in the past and I've somehow learned to control my emotions at such times. But, it was always difficult. And, this time, it really took all my strength to stop the tears. Iligan's just too close to my heart. As we looked at the people we were going to serve that day, we (volunteers) couldn't look at one another, lest one of us would start to cry and we wouldn't be able to stop it and all of us would definitely start crying. The faces that we saw, though it really was depressing to see and know of their predicament, gave us the strength to keep on.
It was nice to see the evacuees' eyes twinkling as they lined up, especially when they were near the station. And, when they got the "package" of goods, some were really so appreciative and, with eyes shining, thanked us profusely. The same eyes and faces also tugged at out hearts. All we could do was give them some friendly pat on the back, a squeeze of the hand and a quick hug for some.
What truly amazed me, though, was the willingness of so many people, even some of those who were affected, to help others. The Filipino bayanihan (helping one another) spirit was really evident in everyone. The enthusiasm to help in whatever way was just overwhelming. Everyone wanted to help without anything in return. But, the most overwhelming was the fact that those who have so little were the ones who had the biggest hearts to help and assist. It is at times like this that we feel that there is still so much goodness in this world despite and in spite of all the negativity.
Some of us continued with our "mission" to somehow be of help. We also joined in the operations in Cagayan de Oro. It made us happy that we weren't just doing our share or our part, we were also witnessing some of the best traits of the Filipino people-- bayanihan and being able to laugh and to be positive amidst tragedy. We got to discover so much more about ourselves and one another; we also saw how our bond was strengthened by the experience. And, above all this, we all learned to be thankful for everything we have and everything we hold dear. We realized how lucky we all are.
When one of the leaders of the group we affiliated with asked some of us why we were doing what we were doing, the answers given were very heartwarming, very positive. In my case, I just simply said that I just try to imagine myself in their (the victims') situation, I know that I'd be happy if some people cared and helped. We, after all, need one another. In my mind, I just said, beyond any religion, beyond any belief, it is the right thing to do.
Belated Happy Blog-birthday!!!
Last December 18th was this blog's 8th birthday! Hehe:) Yeah, I know, I know! I haven't been blogging as much as I used to, but I do hope that changes this year. Every year I hope to write more, but in the past few years, I've been ending up not really achieving that. This year, there will be no promises. I'll just write whenever I can and, who knows, that might come as often as it did back in the earlier and more active years of this blog! :)
Also, I think blogging is becoming a fad once again. Not as big as it used to be, though. Ah, remembering the good ol' days really puts a smile on my face. Hay, I digress. Anyway, I really hope blogging continues to flourish. And, I hope to find more and more interesting blogs to read and follow.
Happy blogging, everyone! :)