October 15, 2013. It’s my mom’s birthday. I just woke up and was about to call and greet her when the earth shook. It was the longest, hardest, and most terrifying earthquake of my life. Thankfully, I and my loved ones were okay. But my heart bled for those who were affected, especially for the people of Bohol who were hit the hardest by that day’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
In the succeeding days, we had to endure thousands of aftershock. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported over 3,000 aftershocks. Two hundred twenty-two (222) people were reported dead, 8 were missing, and 976 were injured. Seventy-three thousand (73,000) structures were damaged or destroyed.
November 04, 2013. A tornado hit Cebu province’s Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue cities. I was in Aklan when this happened and found out the following day. I immediately asked my Cebu-based friends how they’re doing and thankfully, everyone was fine. But we couldn’t help but shiver at the thought of one of our hangouts (Park Mall) being struck, given that our favorite spot there was outdoors and that the St. James amusement park right in front of our usual table was damaged.
November 08, 2013. Super typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda), dubbed one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, struck the Philippines. I was already back in Cebu when it struck. I stayed indoors while it was wreaking havoc, but I could still hear the howling wind. When I went out for lunch, the strong winds hammered my umbrella and I swayed as I fought control over it. It was that strong, and this was already when it was at its weakest!
Back home in Aklan, my loved ones experienced the same thing. I was really thankful that my brothers were home when this happened as it meant they were there to take care of mommy.
The aftermath. Again, thank heavens that I and my loved ones are safe and well. Our ancestral house sustained minimal damage (a piece of sun roof was blown away and a neighbor’s star apple tree fell and struck our kitchen), but as I was telling a friend whose kitchen was destroyed and rendered roofless, we have to look at the greatest gift of all during this hard times: we’re alive. We can rebuild our houses, but we cannot bring back a lost life.
Which is why what happened in Tacloban, northern Cebu, some parts of Aklan and Iloilo, etc., – the areas that were hit the hardest by Typhoon Yolanda – brought me to tears and to my knees. I cried at seeing the devastation, at the news of people going hungry, even crazy with grief…
It was reported that as many as 10,000 are feared dead, and I can only hope that this figure will become an erroneous estimate…
As of this writing, some of my friends and colleagues are still looking for their loved ones, whom they haven’t heard from since the tragedy struck on Friday…
While I believe in the resilience of the Filipino spirit and appreciate the thoughts and prayers, I also believe that WE MUST DO SOMETHING to help the victims and their loved ones. Social News Network Rappler has laid out the many ways that we can be of help. Please click on this link: #ReliefPH
Please help. Our kababayans need us.