Finally, I’ve finished reading Proof of Heaven. I purchased this e-book about 6 months ago, but I only had the time to finish this lately. This book was written by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon , who was privileged to have a glimpse of heaven and actually feel how it was to be there, when he was in a coma. As a neurosurgeon, he knows how the mind works, and mostly his perception about certain things is usually inclined to Science. 

Photo: brianphickey.com


But when he had a near death experience, his idea of heaven, or where we can possibly go after we die, which initially he was doubtful because it would totally shift his beliefs into the opposite direction, towards spirituality or spiritual beliefs, he finally accepted and acknowledged his privilege of being able to share in what other people with NDE (near-death experience) had. In the book, he vividly described how it was in heaven, and how this experience had truly changed him . He was even lucky to get a glimpse of God whom he called Om.

As I reflected on this, I was faced with a lot of questions about heaven. Do we believe in heaven because it is what our faith tells us? Do we believe in heaven because we were raised by our parents instilling in us the rewards and punishment of heaven and hell? If I am to ask myself without taking into consideration what my parents  and my years of education from Catholic Schools say about heaven, would I believe it the way I believe in it now? I honestly don’t know how to answer that without being prejudiced.



At some point of my being human, my mind started to doubt about God, when, at that very moment, I saw the ugliness of destruction. My experience with ST Haiyan was the worst I had experienced up to this very moment. The hardship, the challenges, the hunger and thirst, it was more or less what I would describe hell would be. And my mind started playing tricks on me, started feeding me with deception. I started to think, if this is hell, then God cannot be here. So I asked Him, while I was walking the very dark streets of Tacloban one night, where could He be. I was talking to Him (although it was actually talking to myself), I said,” God, can’t you see the suffering we are in right now? Why’d you let it happen?” 

And then I looked up and noticed that the moon was full that night, it was as if a reminder that somebody was still there, to shine a light in our darkest moments.
But if the mind can be deceived, our hearts won’t. Even though my mind was telling me all these lies, in the depths of my heart, there was still the belief that God won’t leave us in a situation like that all by ourselves. And so all these nation came and help poured in. The overwhelming love from everybody, that to me was heaven.

I didn’t have a near-death experience, nor have I travelled what they all say about the dark tunnel that you pass through when you die, but I know that at some point I was made assured that there is some place else that we go to when we die, when it is our time to die. Or maybe it was NDE, I don’t know, I once overdosed on sleeping pills during the time my depression was at its lowest point. I had no memory whatsoever of being conscious of what was happening to me during the time I was under the spell of the sleeping pills, between the time the nurses were pumping out the toxins from my belly, and probably from my baby’s body too (I was 3 months pregnant at that time) and the time that I was fully awake.

Photo: en.wikimedia.com


I had no recollection of seeing angels , but there is one memory that remains clear to me, up to this very day. I don’ know how to describe it, but it was like my subconscious knew that it was very dark, and then I saw a bright light. It was so bright that it was mesmerizing.  And then I heard the voice, a voice so deep that it touched the depths of my heart. It was so comforting and calming. I thought it was my partner, so I asked him about it when I was fully conscious, but he said he was slumped asleep in the couch. The voice was so distinct that I won’t forget what He said, “ Day, sunod nala.” It was in vernacular which made it more special and personal to me.  It meant, next time. So, it wasn’t my time to die yet.

But then when I started talking to people about this, especially to my doctors, they believe that it was a side effect of the sleeping pills. I was having auditory hallucinations, they said. And I stopped talking about it because they started doubting my sanity. One doctor said that an overdose of sleeping pills can have an amnesia effect because most part of what happened,I do not recall. Even though my sister kept telling me what I had been doing before I was pumped with carbon. If I had a case of amnesia due to the overdose, then why is this the most profound memory that I have? If it was auditory hallucination, why do I still remember it?

Photo on the left is me after my overdose. Post about that here.
http://www.allaboutevediaries.com/2013/04/reflections-blast-from-past-and-how-i.html

My mind wants to contradict everything I that I recall. I stopped talking about it until now because people started doubting me. My mind may deceive me with what’s real or not, but my heart will always know what’s right. For me, I have never slept so soundly and peacefully in my entire life as I woke up feeling recharged and calm . I have never felt so peaceful as I felt that time. My heart knows that the Om (as Dr. Alexander refers to Him) spoke to me. He spoke so clearly that my heart could not deny the joy and peace it brought me. My heart understood what the Voice was telling me to do. It gave me a deeper understanding of how life on earth should be lived, so that we would be ready for the time to come when we pass through the dark tunnel and out into the magnificent light of eternal happiness.

To answer the questions whether I believe in heaven or not, not considering what I was taught to believe by my Religion teachers, this is my answer:

I believe in heaven.
I believe in heaven as I believe in love.

I believe in heaven because I have experienced heaven here on earth. We don’t have to wait for death or a near-death experience to experience heaven. Heaven is attainable here on earth, although it may not be as what it would actually feels like to be in heaven, but close. Here are some of the things that I consider heaven on earth:

  1. Seeing and hearing the laughter of my children, carefree, free-spirited and blissfully happy.
  2. Resting and feeling  loved in the arms of the one I love. (I did experienced this before my relationships went sour, but I am aiming for this soon.)
  3. Being surrounded with friends who shares the same passion as I do.
  4. The taste of good food especially my favorites.
  5. Being near the sea and hearing the waves crashing on the sand. (For a while this became a nightmare to me as a result of trauma of ST Haiyan, but I am finally getting over that.)
  6. Seeing the sun set so beautifully over the horizon .
  7. Goofing around with my children.
  8. Travelling to places that I have set my heart on.
  9. Sharing time and talent to people who appreciates me.
  10. Sniffing some familiar scent that brings back happy memories.
  11. Feeling excited over something I bought for myself with my hard-earned money.
  12. Seeing the moon at night, especially when it’s full.(Always gets me every single time.)
  13. Feeling appreciated for something I’ve worked on with all my heart, be it something for the home or at work.
  14. Waking up in the morning and feeling excited over something wonderful I am anticipating to happen during the day.
  15. Hearing the choir sing in Church, especially children’s choir. Always, always gives me goose bumps.

Heaven is happiness. 
Happiness is heaven. 

We all have different views on what happiness is to us. To me, heaven is something that makes me truly happy. Coincidentally, it is Thanksgiving day, so I am giving thanks for this slices of heaven on earth that I am privileged and honored to partake. I am lucky to have a taste of heaven anywhere here on earth as long as I feel truly happy.

Do you believe in heaven? What or where is your heaven on earth?

Keep the faith,

Mei

A couple of months ago, I posted something about the list , which supposedly was a list of the qualities I am looking for in a man. I admit, it was quite superficial. Okay, it was very superficial, that’s why I also said that the list was flexible. Of course, you can’t really expect to find all those qualities in a man. Or else, someone up there really favors you.

With that, as I reviewed what I have posted there, I am embarrassed to have written such post, looking only for the physical qualities and special talents of what would make a good husband or partner for me. I realized, having those things really won’t make a man a good husband or boyfriend material. So, I have to think about the things that go beyond the physical appearance, beyond being tall, beyond his ability to sing beautiful songs to me. There has got to be a list of non-negotiables, some things that I won’t settle for if I don’t find these qualities in him.


And so, here they are. Single ladies, I hope some of these are also in your list of non-negotiables.

  1. He has to accept, embrace and love the good qualities that I have without having me feel guilty for having my own set of flaws.
  2. He has to be there for me when I need him and makes way for that even though he is inconvenienced. (sounds a bit selfish, but I would do the same for him too).
  3. When making decisions big and small, he has to consider me or how I feel about it. Imho, if he considers me a part of his life, then I have to be a part of the decision-making too.
  4. We must share common beliefs and values. This is important if  we’re going to be together for a long time.
  5. He must be growth-oriented and works on his self-improvement.
  6. He brings out the best in me, not the worst in me and continually supports and nurtures those great qualities that I have.
  7. He should respect me- what I think, my opinions, decisions, ambitions and the friends that I keep. I respect him. He has to have my respect, in the way that he has to respect me. A relationship without mutual respect is doomed from the start.
  8. He sees me as an equal or as a partner. We should be a team-and even though we are a team, we are both stronger individually.
  9. We must be able to communicate with each other, small or tough issues and especially when one is upset with the other. Great conversations should be something that we both must work on and look forward to everyday. The time will come when nothing would be left for us to do but have conversations.
  10. He puts an effort into the relationship.
  11. He must love God more than I do.
  12. He must suffer well. He must be able to handle life’s challenges in a very dignified way. I recently read in an article which talked about one of the things that you should be looking for in a partner. Life is full of challenges and some of these can lead to suffering. These can be inevitable and so when life gets tough, a partner who suffers well can make your life’s challenges easier to bear.


Since I am not getting any younger, and have no time for playing games anymore, this last one is something important to me.

    13. He must want to marry me. Or sees a future with me.

photo: en.wikipedia.org


I know this may get a lot of mixed reaction. This may not be applicable to all women, this depends on where you want the relationship to go. But “duh”, a guy who isn’t ready to give up or at least suggest that he lost his desire to live the lifestyle of a single man, (in short, starts committing to the relationship), then do you  think I should also waste tears and sweat on him?

I think this isn’t just for women, this goes for the single men who also has to find the one . I just saw an Instagram post on my feed calling women as “sluts”, and “wh*res” because apparently, the women he went out with were all liars and found him boring.  And he was wondering if there was one decent chick that would take him seriously. My take on this? So disrespectful. If he was respectful enough not to call women as “sluts” , then I think the women would see him as someone worth their time and respect.

Well, I don’t really know the whole story, but finding a "decent chick" means you have to go to decent places to find them, not in bars and definitely not over social media where you post all your drunkenness for the whole world to see. 

This goes out to the women as well.It's very seldom that a man would take you seriously if he met you in a bar. People go to the bar to have fun, so that's what you can only expect to do and happen, to have some fun.

To sum it all up, if you have a list of non-negotiables, then you must also live to be the person you want in your list.  

Keep the faith,

Mei



Disclaimer: I am not a relationship expert, and these are my own personal opinions and observations based on the materials I gathered from the internet and mail subscriptions. This is not intended to be a relationship advice and is supposed to be for entertainment only.If you are really keen on improving your lovelife, please seek relationship experts. :) TY!

It was only on the fifth day that I finally decided to leave for good. It took me that long because I was not able to get to a final decision from my sister. I do not want to leave anyone behind so I have to wait for us to have a fixed and final decision to leave.

Fortunately, my sister Mabelle, was not in Tacloban when it happened. She was with her kids on vacation in Manila.  Good thing though because there was nothing to be saved in her house. She came in to Tacloban via Cebu and Ormoc because all the roads coming in from Manila was damaged. San Juanico bridge was unpassable. She and her sister-in-law Rochelle and friend Alberta had to take the flight to Cebu. They were planning on taking the C130 to Tacloban, but the waiting list was so long. They decided to take the Supercat and go to Tacloban via van. They arrived at about 9 or 10 in the morning to rescue us and the first thing that we really did was hug. They brought biscuits and medicine and milk. The biscuit was the one that would sustain us for the rest of our exodus out of Tacloban.

We decided to take the C130 because of some miscommunication, me, the kids, Mel (my maid) , my sister and her boyfriend, and some neighbors decided to walk to the airport. That was about 10 to 15 kilometers but could be more because we have to take a different route. We can’t risk taking the route in Real because there was a lot of dead bodies still uncollected near Astrodome. I don’t want the kids to see that. I have them wear mask because the stench was just too much. It was a stench that you didn’t want to smell again, the kind of odor that clings to your hair, and seeps through every pore into your body. It was a smell that I would never forget.

On our way to the airport, with 3 kids in tow, we took turns in carrying Arashel and Matt, because there were places that water was still knee deep. Then it started to rain, we had to stop and let it pass. We have to save water so we only took a sip of whatever water we had. Then some pedicab was already taking passengers to Coca-Cola in San Jose so we took the ride. It was a rip off because we were charged 300 pesos for just a short distance. I had no choice, my kids were getting tired.

It was starting to grow dark. It that time, darkness was our enemy. We didn’t have any flashlight. We have heard of the looters who would stop people and loot from them. I prayed we don’t meet such. When the rest of our group finally reached Coca-cola, we brainstormed if we should wait for my sister Mabelle who was going to come pick us up in a van. But we didn’t know where they exactly were because there was no signal yet. We have no way to communicate.

We decided to push through with our plan to go to the airport. It was safer there. There was signal, although no power, but at least, there were a thousand soldiers there. That would be the safest place for us.  We started to walk again.

We flagged down a car and asked if we could hitch to the airport. We were allowed so we helped ourselves into the back of the car. After half an hour stuck in traffic, yes, there was a long queue of cars trying to get to the airport, the driver decided to turn back so we were forced to get off the car and continue to walk. Then a couple of tricycle (the tricycle itself was already improvised designed to carry a lot of passengers) came and I asked to be brought to the airport. They were charging us for 100pesos per head. There were ten of us together so we paid a thousand pesos just for that ride.

Along the way, we saw more of the destruction. There were more dead bodies everywhere, some just wrapped in tarpaulin, or bedsheet and tied. I could feel how heartbreaking it must have been for someone to abandon their dead on the sidewalk. But they had no choice, there really wasn’t any place where they can bury their dead.

When we finally reached the airport, it was full of people. There were more coming in, but some were backing out. I saw one teacher from my alma mater and where my daughter was also going, she asked if we had plenty of food with us. I asked her why, she said she bought a flight that day, but the schedule was still on Friday. She said she’ll be staying in the airport until Friday because she can’t go back home. It was dangerous. And that was just Wednesday.

We decided to stay there. Since there was already a signal on my phone, I was able to contact my sister. My children’s dad also tried contacting me. My kid’s grandfather works for a big news company. At that time, I was told that the family members of media men in Tacloban was given priority to take the C130.  They asked favor from one of their ground reporters covering the event to assist us in taking the flight. But because it was already dark and raining, I was not able to go past the airport tower, where she apparently was waiting for me.

Some of us went into the queues of the two commercial planes that were selling tickets. We were hoping to buy, I had enough money with me. But the long lines were crazy, they were not even open yet.

But because it was night time, I opted to stay with the kids in the dilapidated main hall of the airport because there were chairs. At least, if we are going to spend the night there, we were seated properly. There was still a moon that night, at least it was giving us some light. That was the only light we had, plus the occasional light of the media’s cameras. Media from all over the world somehow had a station inside the airport, and their cameras provided extra light. CNN, BBC and even one that I don’t know what language the reporter was using and one or two times their cameras panned at us.

Arashel and Matt started to sleep, without having any dinner but some pieces of biscuits. And there was still milk. So at least they were fine. My other daughter was still able to eat some biscuit. The grown ups on the other hand tried our best not to feel hungry. In fact, I did not feel any hunger at that time. Adrenaline was working at its best, to our advantage.

Tacloban airport is located beside the sea waters. If you have landed at Tacloban airport, you would know this, because the runway is really built on the shorelines of Cancabato Bay. That is why, as the night deepens, the sound of the waves grew stronger. It became colder, with occasional sprays from the waves which I think were bigger that night than usual. At that moment, I thought that if another storm surge would happen , we will all die. There was nowhere else we can go to or run to. We felt so vulnerable. And it was a frightening feeling, to be sitting there, hearing the big waves splashing behind you, on a cold dark night. I hugged my kids tight, to give more warmth to them. I didn’t get to sleep that night.

As early as 4 am, there was a hefty number of people falling in line at the commercial plane counters, waiting for them to open and start operations. I lost hope of buying tickets, so we moved on to the next plan. My sister would use her media identification so she could get past the towers and find the correspondent. Luckily, she was allowed entry. The things the media/press ID can do. I thought that we should have done it the night before, but it skipped my mind. We have the media ID’s because we own one of the local tv channel in Tacloban.

Finally, my sister Arianne was able to locate Nikko Dizon, the correspondent whom we were supposed to look for the night before. Turned out she went down into the lines and kept shouting my name, looking for me. I didn’t hear that because we were on the opposite side of the tower. When my sister got to talk to her, we were told that our slot was taken by a certain military officer, a general, who used our slots to let his family out of Tacloban. He promised that he would give us a slot the next day.

As it was getting light, I noticed that there were more people there in line than the night before. And since we were promised a slot by the general who took our slot, we were asked to stay in a separate queue. Our names were already in the manifesto, and there was a military officer incharge or our group. There was about 20 of us in our group.  It was around 8 am that we were allowed entry  into the tarmac. We were just waiting for the C130 plane we were assigned to, in that case, we were supposed to take the US Air Force C130 plane.

But then some confusion started to brew. Emotions were running high. Egos were inflated, and a confusion on who has authority over who was in charge of some certain things erupted. All units of the military was present there, the navy, the army, air force, etc. They were all there and a confusion over jurisdiction started.

We were counted and grouped into 60’s as that was the capacity of every C130.  After that, we were asked to sit by the shoulders of the runway. There, we were entertained b the soldiers with their story. They played with Matt and Arashel and Margareth and with the other kids, trying to ease the kids anxiety or boredom. One baby started wailing because she was looking for milk. They ran out of milk since they’ve been at the airport  the day before. I had another bottle of milk that was supposed to be for Arashel. Since I was already anticipating that anytime now we would be leaving, I gave the bottle of milk to the baby. The mother was just so grateful.

Photo: lifestyle.inquirer.net
We were in the same group as this man. He does not have any place to go to, he was even asking us which group we were queueing at, Manila or Cebu. When we asked him where he was going, he said he don't know, he just wants to get out of Tacloban. 

The soldiers shared their water with us. There was one soldier who , by coincidence, was surnamed as my surname , became a lifesaver to us.  He assisted my sister and her boyfriend in looking for  Ms. Dizon the night before. The sun was scorching hot and we were there basked in the hot midmorning sun. It was only about 2 pm, when we were told the C130 plane that was to take us out has arrived. Immediately we were asked to move to the runway, near where the C130 was. People started to fill in the plane. When it was our turn to board, somebody from behind cut through us and when we were finally so near to the door, we were told that the capacity has been filled. This happened twice, and all the while we were just inside the shoulders of the runway.

At some point of our frustration, we were called to stay at the CAAP office. Ms.Dizon was still negotiating with the military for our slot.  This certain general again said that he would conduct a special operation. We were told of the plan, we were to stay inside the CAAP area where we should wait for another plane. We were to wait for a certain signal coming from one person we choose as a lookout. We were to wait for the Japanese national to stand up, and immediately follow him as to make it look like we are a part of his group. That time, foreign nationals, expats, were still prioritized to fly out  of Tacloban.

When we finally saw the signal, we walked forward to the plane in a quick but guarded way so as not to attract attention. We were told to be discreet because if people at the other side of the gate saw us going to the planes, people may panic and create pandemonium. It would be something the military won’t be able to control. We were careful not to raise suspicion.

But when we were again somewhere near the plane, another group cut through us. It turned out we were not the only ones doing the special operation thing. That day, families of military men were priority .

Resigned, we got back near the CAAP office area, just beside BBC Network’s camp. I decided to text my sister to come get us from the airport. We would take the van going out of Tacloban to anywhere.  We decided to stay inside the camp while we waited for my sister to come rescue us.

At that moment, I relied on the media to have some water. Ms. Dizon would help me get water from the soldier’s camp.  I have to beg from the soldier on duty for water saying I have kids needing water. Finally he gave me but limited. He specifically told me not to tell anyone about the water because sooner or later, everybody would be asking from them, their supplies may not last too.

The soldier surnamed Lim also checks on us from time to time and would fill his pockets with bottles of mineral water from their supply center and would give it to us. The children, although playing, were already starting to tire, feel agitated and hungry. It was about 3 or 4 pm and we haven’t had anything to eat. We had the last piece of Fita and they divided it among themselves all three of them. We contented ourself with water. Water was our lifesaver.

Matt started to feel sleepy and I laid him on the large airport trolley/trailer used to carry passengers baggages. Matt slept lying on his back, in that trolley. And that was when BBC correspondent Jonathan Head took notice. He went to Matt and placed a bottle of mineral water beside him. And he talked with my sister who was then watching over Matt. I was falling in line inside the CAAP office so I could use their free calls and made a call to my brother in Manila.

When I went back to where the kids were, Mr. Jonathan Head was already talking with them. Then occasionally he would give us bottles of mineral water from their supply. He promised me that if their food supply arrives, he would give us some. But we didn’t wait that long. He asked to do an interview with me and I did answered his questions. It was quite lengthy, but I am not sure if it was even shown.

This is a screenshot of my tweet to Mr. Jonathan Head of BBC and his reply. Thank you.


Another woman interviewed me in perfect Tagalog, but she was scribbling it in Chinese. So I guess she was a correspondent for Tzu Tzi gathering data, or from another Chinese news company. I was starting to have a headache. It was about 5 pm when we decided to go out of the camp and wait for my sister outside the airport.

We waited for another hour and a half before my sister arrived in a van filled with relatives of her husband. We piled in into the van and we were going to go to Catbalogan City in Samar, which is where her husband’s relatives were.

At around 9 pm, we had our first meal in a place near Calbayog City. It was a small turo-turo (kitchenette) and was selling food to motorists. I asked them to stop the car because I really was so hungry already. We had fish soup and rice. That was the best meal I have ever had in my life!
My kids were finally able to eat their first  rice after almost 20 hours.

We spent the  night at a hostel in Catbalogan. There was no power also so we were in a hotel room with only a candle lighting the room. We were so exhausted I didn’t bother taking a bath. I know we were stinking but all guests of that hostel were also from Tacloban, so we were all stinking of the same distinct odor.

We set out to take the bus going to Manila at around 9 am. When we finally boarded the bus, an ordinary one, non airconditioned because it was the one on schedule. This is another ride which we would never forget.


The Bus from Hell


Fresh from our trauma, we thought we were just being paranoid when the bus we were on was running over the speed limit. It was like the driver doesn’t care whether his passengers were still comfortable or not. At some point, it was like a roller coaster and I feared for my children. It was like riding a roller coaster and it scared the hell out of us. I prayed as I prayed during the storm. I worshipped. I asked God to ease us from our anxiety and nervousness.

The bus driver decided to stop over Naga City. When the bus stopped for gasoline at their terminal, one passenger approached my sister Arianne and told her to tell the driver to slow down a bit. He said he didn’t want to tell the driver because it will cause trouble. My sister did talked with the driver, but instead of calming down, the driver snapped and shouted at my sister. My sister started to cry because of the stress and her frustration and fear over the bus. My sister nearly didn’t make it. She was about to surrender when the wall she was holding on to collapsed.

Because the bus driver started arguing with us, my other sister Mabelle decided we get off the bus. When we got off, we tried to talk with the supervisor. But instead he took the side of his driver. I could site so many errors on the part of the bus company: driving alone (they are supposed to drive in tandems so that they can took turns in driving), overspeeding (he was driving way past 80 kph, he would not slow down while overtaking in very, very narrow roads and he looked like he was stoned.

We decided to stay in Naga City and looked for a cheap hotel. Good thing there was one and it was really cheap. We stayed for the night. That was the only time I was able to take a bath, wash my hair and relaxed a bit. I was so filthy that the soap and shampoo just won't make any bubbles or suds. Temporarily, it made us feel better, the only problem was the clothes. The kids have some fresh on, but I realized I only had a couple of shirts and a short and I have already used it the day we stayed in Catbalogan. 

We had to travel light, because we walked from our house to the airport. We only brought one bag with clothes and another bag for food and water. 

I had no choice but to borrow some of my sister's clothing and if you saw me, you would have laughed at my fashion sense. I was wearing a leopard-print sleeveless shirt and a capri pants with tiger prints. I would not want to be caught dead in that outfit, but since I already cheated death, and there really was no other option to make, so I have to wear it.

We set out to the bus station to take the bus to Manila. Good thing the hotel we slept in was near the bus terminal. We were finally able to reach Manila on the 17th of November, 2013. nine days after the typhoon ravaged our place.

I have gone back to Tacloban only once after the New Year to check on our things, cleared what needs to be cleared and I ended up giving away most of our clothes to our former neighbors. They were so happy because at that time, there was a limited suppply of clothing donated. I also donated to my former neighbors toys that my kids don't play with anymore.

It's been a year after Yolanda, and my kids have not been back to Tacloban yet. I have plans of returning back to the place I love not just because it is where I was able to felt freedom with my children, the cost of living is just proportionate to my earnings. I want to go back to the place where I have my peace of mind, to the place where you can buy fresh fish at 20-40 pesos, where you can take the tricycle and go around the city, all for 50 pesos. I want to go back to the place where my children felt free. Living in Tacloban is so laid-back, I was surprised I didn't miss what I had in my almost 10 years of stay in Metro Manila.

Tacloban, I shall return. 


Keep the faith,

Mei








My sister and I tried going into the stores to get whatever we can, but we came out empty-handed. If you see the situation inside the stores, you would think twice about looting. In my case, I got afraid when I saw some people went inside stores with kitchen knives to arm themselves. The stores were pitch dark, even though you have a flashlight, it was dangerous as there were shards of glass everywhere, the floors were slippery, with black soot all over. I did not risk it, I thought I can look for other ways, maybe beg.

 Our neighbors were already coming in and out of their houses with different items. They had cans and cans of fruit cocktail (what would you do with a fruit cocktail, make salad in the midst of a calamity? Nevertheless, it’s still food). We did went inside a Mercury Drug store, only to find out that it was already empty. Even the bandages and plasters and medicines were not spared from the hands of hungry people. I was even surprised to see one of the contractors’ son who I worked with. Imagine, even the rich were already looting. He said their house was also washed out .

This guy seemed so lucky to have looted a lot of rice., while I was still looking for someone who will give me rice.

We tried asking for items or even tried to buy a coke from someone who was towing about 3 cases of coke. But we were not given a single bottle. We were able to buy one Red Horse though at thrice the price. (Yes, my sister bought Red Horse, it was better than none, according.to her). 

I just wonder where did all these people came from, all of them were on a motorbike. I've never seen so many motorbike in Tacloban ever since I stayed there. They are definitely not from Tacloban but from neighboring towns looking for gasoline.

WE were able to survive because of the dried fish that was given to me by a friend, something that I really did went to the Association office, a day before the typhoon, just to get it. I thought  dried fish on rainy days would be great. I still had supplies, canned goods, but I was running out of biscuits..I needed some biscuits to help save milk for my children. I learned how to barter for milk and biscuit. I ahd plenty of shampoo and powdered detergent, almost half a sack, because my maid’s brothers and a former maid trekked from Samar to Tacloban in our place. 

They set on foot to check on Mel and along they way, they saw a warehouse being looted. They also went with the rest to loot.  I bartered shampoos for biscuits so my children can at least take a bit of it. I was getting desperate. Although our barangay captain had already asked us to enlist, so we immediately listed down our names for the relief goods.


Four days passed by,  and not a single relief good came. Not only to us, but to the whole city of Tacloban. There were helicopters hovering above us all the time, I was anticipating someone would drop supplies, but it turned out they were only news correspondents surveying the damage.  There was an instance I went up to our rooftop and waved like crazy at one helicopter hovering near. Our cry for help would only be heard, days after we reached Manila.


Photos were taken by my sister on her way to rescue us. 
The days after the typhoon went by swiftly as morning turns to night faster than it does on December. Mostly because we were forced to be at home at 5 pm, or once the sky started to darken. There was no electricity power, the whole province was in a total blackout. 

There were occasional generators run by these big media companies and NGO’s, but even that came later, and it was only in selected areas like the City Hall. We would walk everyday to the City Hall, because it was the only place where there was signal, thanks to these big telecoms with their own satellite dish to serve the people of Tacloban. On the third day, I learned from my friends, whom I met along the way, (walking became a part of our daily life since there was no public transport available), that there was free 3-minute internet use at the City Hall. I took the chance to be able to send out a message to my relatives and friends to inform them that we were okay and that we needed help.

 I chose to post a status on my Facebook account since it was the best thing that could send out my message to as many people as it can. I wasn’t able to wait for the replies or comments because time was very limited, there was a long line behind me waiting for their turm. There was a TV network doing the interviews and the person before me was interviewed, so I guess , if my relatives were watching that channel they would have seen me. The only time I was able to scan through my Facebook account was when we were out of Tacloban and boy was I surprised to find so many comments on my post, friends asking for their relatives, asking me about the situation.



I would like to say I am sorry to everyone who send me messages to check on their relatives. I only got to read your comments after I reached Manila. We were given only 3 minutes to use the internet for Facebook so we can tell our status to relatives and friends. Also, there was no means of transportation. I can't walk to these places because I was mostly alone, walking on my own and I have kids waiting for me at home. I am so sorry.

This was that incident that I had to run for cover because some detainees from the nearby detention center had a situation. Two to four detainees apparently grabbed a jail guard’s service pistol. They were also in a panic mode. If free people were in a panic in the world outside, how much more for them who were inside the jail? They were also affected by the storm surge since the whole of Tacloban City was under water. How they managed to survive, I do not know. But one thing I know, they were also starving inside , that’s why most of them were released, to look for their relatives . The prison management does not have anything to feed them too.

After running for cover and experiencing how it was like the movies when someone just tells you to keep your head down and no sudden movement, I started to panic because I was thinking what if the gunman barged into the room I was in and took us as hostage. I frantically prayed. My body was trembling as I tried to fit under the tables, not feeling the shards of broken glass lying on the ground. After which seemed like forever and finishing a couple of Our Fathers and three Hail Mary’s, somebody said all clear. I didn’t even know if indeed there was a gunman inside or what. We all acted out of fear and traumatized . I was in the same position as then PIA Reg.8 Director Olive Tiu, an aunt, my father’s cousin’s wife.

That was when I was finally able to use the 3-minute free Facebook but it was already getting dark. I had to brave the dark so I can finish my goal for that day, to inform my family and friends about our whereabouts. I walked alone for almost 1.5 kilometer going home without any flashlight with me. 


What I did was to walk behind a group who had flashlights. But there were times that they would make a turn so I have to continue walking home. Good thing there was a full moon that night.  And that was when I started praying, talking to God, while I walk. I asked him why such thing happened to us. I was talking while I was walking home. Sometimes I thought that I was going to lose my mind. I keep on asking God, why? I would occasionally stop because there were things along the way, it could have been dead bodies, because dead bodies were all over. The clearing up had not started yet. The stench was  getting stronger, seeing dead bodies along the road became a normal sight.

My kids were just at home and I was starting to worry because my supplies box was getting emptier each day. In a couple of days, I won’t have anything to feed us. I was able to ask for some rice from an acquaintance, Mano Herman, (thank you btw) but he insisted I hid it in a bag because he was afraid his neighbors would know that he had sacks of rice (they were able to loot in one of those rice mills). He gave me extra packs of noodles. At that time, generosity had a limitation. You only choose who you can be generous with.

The third day had me waking up early and walking back to my friend’s house because we already planned on leaving Tacloban. We already understood the situation, that there was nothing to hope for and wait for. Staying there would mean hunger for us. I don’t have a male companion at home, so how can I compete with those who have? At that time, the more men in your household, the bigger chances you’ll survive. You have someone who will barge into the stores to loot for the family. In my case, I had none. In the survival game, I was weak because I do not have the courage to join in the looting spree.

I went to my friend M's house and we set out to look for surviving members of our association. We remembered our dear friend Candy who just got married on September, almost a month before the typhoon. She was on the heavy side, so we worried and also because their house was in San Jose, near the airport, which was one of the badly hit place.

It was only a day after that we learned she didn’t make it. Her mom and brother died with her and only her husband survived.

Me and M walked , hitched and walked again, in search of some of our friends. Another aunt, my dad’s sister was assumed missing. Her daughter in law went to M’s house that morning and asked if my aunt passed by because after the typhoon, she set out and started walking going to a cousin’s house in Palo. I don’t know how many kilometers is that but it could be like walking from Baclaran to Lawton or more. I worry because my aunt was diabetic. They checked-in at Leyte Park Hotel, which was also located on a beachfront. Good thing they had the presence of mind to move to higher ground when the wind started blowing hard and the pressure blew up the whole glass door.

We parted ways around lunch time and when I went back to their house, she already left for Manila via a commercial plane.  ( There were commercial planes coming in and out of Tacloban already aside from the C130’s that started transporting people out of Leyte). At this time, there was not much people leaving yet. Some were still able to get queue numbers especially if you have someone who needs medical attention.

M was a Civil Engineer and daughter of one of the political families in a town in Leyte, but I was quite amused by her. While walking the streets of Tacloban, we saw an empty container that was good enough to use as a makeshift wagon. She tied a string on it and we were tugging it like scavengers would and we checked on whatever thing we could get that can still be used. But then the string snapped so we have to leave the wagon behind.


There were less bodies at the downtown area compared to our place in Real St., one of the main streets in the city. Dead bodies were strewn all over the coastal side of Tacloban. That was just the other side of the street. 

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The only thing that's constant is change. Life IS a constant change, so they say. But what if at a snap of a finger, your whole life changed and that it happened so fast that you can't even keep up with the events that happened.

That's what happened to us, me and my fellow Leytenos.

One year has passed but it still seems like yesterday. The horrors of what happened that fateful day is still so fresh that watching everything being shown on tv is reliving the pain and the horror of what happened again and again.


One year has passed and it is only now that I was able to write again about what happened to us on November 8,2013. I have tried to forget and move on but these are events in your life that you don't forget. Closing your eyes could still be like stepping into a time machine and being brought back into the exact day of your worst nightmare.

We've moved on, but we did not forget what happened.

Describing it as a nightmare would not even be right, because I have not imagined something like that, not in my waking life, nor in my dreams, even in my nightmare. No one could have predicted something like that could happen to you or your family.

Watching these documentaries on tv made me realize that what happened to us was "milder" than to what others had experienced. I realized this really is a second chance at life for my kids (not for me, because I have been given chances when I tried committing suicide countless times in the past).

I also come to the realization that I believe, my children and I were located in the safest house compared to my friends and other relatives. Yes, I did call out to all the saints and worshipped God like I never before, but our location did help. My only fear at that time was what if the windows exploded because of the pressure and the rooftop might cave-in, because there was a lot of rain. Living in the second floor of an apartment-type building, it was an advantage. Yes, the rain was seeping through the window and coming in from the cracks of the walls and the rooftop, and my steel gate got blown away, that was what frightened me because even though we were in the second floor, water had already seeped in through the window.

Just a month ago before Yolanda, we moved to this apartment. This was by far the best decision I made in my life, because the apartment we moved out from was totally washed out. I don't know where I could have hidden my kids, we could have been all dead. My sister and her kids was living there, because we switched houses, but by God's will, they were in Manila for the Undas, fortunately, they were not able to rebook their plane tickets and got it cancelled.

See, sometimes, delays are good. It can or may save your life, so don't freak out if you experience delays in life.

And so, on this anniversary, I would like you to please visit my other blogpost.

This is my story.

Days of Terror: Surviving Typhoon Yolanda's Wrath

Days of Terror: The Onslaught

Days of Terror: The Aftermath Day 1

A Note of Gratitude

Gone But Never Forgotten

Finding Purpose Among the Ruins

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