Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Thoughts on Yolanda

Tabogon, Cebu

I started to write this on November 9, Saturday, the day after Yolanda hit the Philippines. This explains my reference of the day in this post.

Today is a sunny day back home, with the usual scorching heat and an uncomfortably humid weather. As my sister puts it, it's like there's no super typhoon that wreaked havoc yesterday. To be verbatim on her update to me, the weather is so hot and she still has her laundry to do. While I'm glad that my family is fine and safe, my heart goes out to those gravely affected by the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda (international name, Haiyan). Yolanda did an "island hopping" across Visayas, made its 5 landfalls across the region and its 6th in Busuanga, Palawan. Immediate updates on the affected places can be totally heartbreaking but I know, Filipinos can pick up the pieces and start all over again, even with cheerful demeanor while at it. In spite of that positive thought, I know that today is not that day but for certain, that day will come when the sun will shine down on us again.

Meanwhile, the photo above is the cove that I have some sort of tugging feeling which I can't explain. This cove is in my hometown, Tabogon which is a town in Northern Cebu, one of the hardest hit places of the super typhoon. I haven't been really in this place because I would just normally pass by along this picturesque stretch. As of this writing, I haven't read confirmed updates about what happened to my hometown after Yolanda's crazed transit except a quick rundown of the situation at home, after a call to my parents. Thankfully, everyone back home is safe. Yes, there are a lot of things to be done, like cleaning up Yolanda's mess and fixing broken things. What remains a problem is their water and power supply but hopefully, everything will be close to normal in the coming days.

I can breathe a sigh of relief now, but I can't imagine the horror that everyone must have felt when Yolanda mercilessly battered the trees, the houses, and everything along its path. Yes, I have experienced typhoons many times in the past but clearly, this typhoon is extremely different. My mother even tells me that this is the worst typhoon that she has experienced in her life!

My recent typhoon experience was on the first day of this year and I know, it pales in comparison with the super typhoon yesterday. But I'm still recalling it, since it was definitely one for my horror books! It was a dawn trip, on a mini-bus with my sister. My parents were busy that day so, my sister and I had no choice but to commute to Cebu City. We are used to commuting so, we had no complains. There had been news of an incoming typhoon but one thing that's important for me that time was to get to the city since I would have my flight back to Singapore, later that night. I know I'm crazy.

Because I live in a place which is somewhat cut off from the rest of the world (rare network signals, yes!), we had no latest news about the typhoon. We even considered ourselves lucky that there was still a bus that we could catch. Lucky? So, we thought... It was already raining when my sister and I, bid goodbye to my parents. At that time, we had no inkling on what we're getting at.

I tried to get some snooze but failed. The dawn ride with a bad weather, was not something I could sleep off. Worse, I had no idea anymore which town we were passing as our window was kept closed because of the rain. Having picked up many passengers along the way, it was still packed with people, some already crowding the very narrow aisle and near the bus's only door.

In what it seemed to be halfway on our trip, rain and wind had started to pound our bus, like there's this giant of a madman who amused himself by shaking our bus. All I could do that time was pray and send messages to my dear ones, hoping they could read them. But the chances were slim as it was still dawn and they could still be sleeping. My mother's phone could also have no network signal at that time. All the more, I was almost scared out of my wits when the bus was still picking up passengers!

Adding to an already frightening ride, was when we were told that the road had been blocked by fallen trees and the bus couldn't get through! Around us was pitch black and the sign of any rescue was nil. In that almost hopeless situation though, a glimmer of hope was still on us as the bus conductors braved the rain and cut off the fallen trees blocking the way. They also urged the male passengers to lend a helping hand. After some time, we were finally back on our way but for the second time around, we faced the same situation.

To cut the story short, we arrived at the North Bus Terminal in Mandaue City, safe and sound, even if we had a harrowing experience to tell. And what a way to start the first day of the new year!

Commuting in the country can be way past the safety border and regulations of other countries but when we are faced with any adversity, I'm proud to say that we can certainly find a way to get through almost anything. Even jokes and light moments are being added in the midst of it. Although the tragedy brought by Yolanda is so enormous to fathom right now, we may find our very core as a Filipino and rise above this catastrophe and together as one, build our great nation again.

For now, I did a bit of something for the Filipino people and likewise, you can do the same. :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Baguio City Hall

Baguio City Hall

Baguio City Hall is a pretty sight among tall trees and the ornate gardens that fill its surrounding slopes. It provides an overlooking view of Baguio City's center since it proudly stands on a hill.

With its building partly covered with the vegetation in its front, I firstly thought that this was the Baguio Cathedral. Come Sunday when my family and I would hear mass, I then realized that I was completely wrong about the Cathedral's address because my phone's GPS routed me to the opposite direction! Such shame. haha!