How can one community survive from a disaster called the worst to ever hit the country? How can one recover from overwhelming devastation?
Typhoon Yolanda with its Category 5 winds slammed into the island of Leyte in Central Philippines last November 8. 2013. The disaster left a path of destruction with flattened homes and dead bodies in its wake. The storm surge swept away homes and people. Nature gone mad. A poor community was rendered helpless and hopeless.
Right now, the roads are impassable due to debris and collapsed buildings and fallen electric cables. Even as donations pour in and rescue efforts are underway, there are still some survivors sheltering in makeshift structures, bracing for the next storm, even as they mourn for their dead loved ones.
The images posted on the intranet are horrific to behold. Ten thousand (maybe more) human beings lost their lives; the once beautiful coastal areas transformed into a wasteland of rubbles and dead people and animals.
A whole community struggles, waiting for food and water from rescue groups unable to reach the isolated areas fast enough. The lack of electric power makes it difficult to communicate on the whereabouts and destinies of the people of Leyte.
There is an outpouring of sympathy from people around the world. And yet, there are some heartless individuals who begrudge the help that the US government had sent to the Philippines and had demanded that monetary aid be redirected to help domestic people first. Self-entitlement and selfishness sometimes rear its ugly heads.
The rest of the caring world can only watch helplessly as heart-wrenching stories of loss are recounted by the survivors. Prompted by desperation, men and women sought out television cameras to plead for help and to connect with loved ones outside of the affected areas, mostly to tearfully announce which family member had passed away.
Filipinos are known for their resilience. The country had been plagued by natural disasters over the years, but its people had always bounced back, made stronger by their faith and the optimism for a brighter future.
This latest tragedy had shaken us to the core and had rendered the future bleak and unimaginable. But there is no other option but to survive. To just take each day as it comes. To just hold on to the flicker of hope that there is still something worth living for.
My heart bleeds for you, Philippines. Be strong.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
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