When typhoon Sendong hit the country, I’d confess to have become quite indifferent until a confrere started sending me a Facebook message asking about my hometown’s condition after that historic day on December 17, 2011. Posts about the news began populating on social network pages and you can’t help but notice and pry. As I browsed and read through each item, I was suddenly struck with the need to contact my family members to check on their safety. I regained my calmness after knowing that the typhoon brought only up to 2 inches deep rainwater within our vicinity. That is because, our house was located on a higher ground compared to our not too distant neighborhood which was situated near the Banica River in Bagacay, Taclobo, Dumaguete City. I saw pictures of the raging water from my dad’s FB profile and one can only imagine how much panic it brought to the families whose house and properties where built and stacked at the riverside. Other areas in Dumaguete showing infrastructural and property damages were Freedom Park which looked like a pool of muddy water and Colon Extension (mostly houses along the riverside behind Foundation University). Residents of Calindagan, on the other hand, were stirred to rescue action when a cargo ship (MV Ever Transport III) wasoverturned by smashing waves taking the vessel to the shore. A crew of 28 was rescued to safety.
|MV Ever Transport III afloat but tilted and tied to another cargo ship to keep it from going distance. At the center is a wrecked fence of a Chinese temple of Barangay Calindagan in Dumaguete|
While this horrendous event happened in our town, neighboring towns too had their share of tragic stories. Among the others affected were the following towns: Amlan, Sibulan, Tanjay, Siaton, Bacong, Valencia, and Pamplona. Negros Chronicle reported a total of 43 fatalities, 19 of which were from Valencia. Property damage totals to 380 hectares of fishponds, 381 farmlands, 280 hectares or rice plantation, and 18 hectares of corn plantation as published in The Visayan Daily Star. A bridge in Tanjay (see pictures) also collapsed causing transportation problems for travelling town folks. This news was confirmed to me by our apartment landlady whose house-help was in transit to Bais City when it happened.
Radios and Television air news about how much worse typhoon Sendong (international name, Washi) affected other regions of the Philippines like Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Panic has spread fast and tales of survival and of losses were people’s everyday conversation.
Natural calamities are sometimes the most difficult to process. Crimes like murder and robbery most of the times point to suspects with motives and intentions. Typhoons, hurricane, flash flood, and earthquakes on the other hand claim more than one death but without a particular person to blame. Investigations for this type of misfortune may identify a community activity (overcutting of trees, including illegal ones) but will never put a man to jail for all fatalities. Affected families remain in abstraction both of what could have been done and what to do next. If one is lucky, he/she can bounce back quickly, but the non-resilient are stuck in oblivion, caught between the then and the now, seeing no clear future.
The government and its effort to bring relief goods and assistance to the families who have been affected by this unfortunate event are commendable. I believe it is a good start towards recovery---the restoration of tangible things and the availability of resources for the victims’ basic needs. However, the challenge to boost back confidence and courage for these victims remains. As to when full recovery can happen--it is difficult to tell. Apart from the external motivation one can get from others, it is mostly a decision one needs to make to free himself from the baggage of the past and catch up with lost times (Philippians 3:13). Personally, it is the glimpse of an imperishable future that keeps me going. Knowing that death and defeat are temporary and that real victory lies ahead keep my head up. May all, especially the Sendong victims, recognize that our times are in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15).
I know it ain’t easy, but may all who understand, become a ready encouragement for others to keep trying. Keep going!