A Note of Gratitude

Monday, December 2, 2013

I would like to take a break from posting the series of blogposts I was planning on doing. I would like to dedicate this space, this post, to the people who helped me in any way, to get back on my feet after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Photo: whowhatwhy.com

Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) birthed new heroes and heroines. We saw ordinary people transform into  modern-day heroes right before our very eyes. To them, it was just a call of duty, or a case of adrenaline rush, but for us, the victims and survivors of the strongest typhoon in the world for this year and maybe for the last hundred years, it was a token of love, of compassion and heroism.

I would like to dedicate this blogpost to all the people who have helped me in any way they can. I know most of them would not want to be mentioned, but I want to, because at times like these, they were the ones who were beside me and help me get through these very difficult moments. They are my heroes and heroines, my friends for life.

I talked with some military men while we were at the hangar after our botched up Operation C130, they admitted they were deeply affected. They have lost some of their comrades too that were stationed over at the airport. One particular soldier, would sneak all the bottles of mineral water his uniform pockets could carry and would give it to us. It helped us throughout the night we stayed at the airport or what was left of it. Maybe having the same last name as his helped us gain his sympathy.

But I salute them. They have to leave their families and risk their own in a wasteland, where even they do not know where their next meal would come from, and what experiences they would uncover beneath the rubbles. But it had become more than a duty for them, when they started sympathizing with us. I would not forget how they played and entertained my children while we waited for our turn to take the flight out of Tacloban.

And the first time I saw Nikko Dizon of The Philippine Daily Inquirer, I broke down and cried on her shoulder. I appreciated and thanked her for all the efforts she did for us to be able to take a flight. I appreciate this more because she did something beyond her call of duty, which was to report.

We may have not been able to take the C130 but seeing her efforts was enough to merit a lifetime of appreciation.

Inside the airport, BBC South Asia Correspondent, Jonathan Head, not only once asked us how we were doing. Every time he passed by where we were sitting, on the airport trolley, where my kids have started to lie and fell asleep, he had not once but many times gave us a bottle of water. When he talked to me, he said that he was also a father and his little boy was almost the same age as my Matt. And that’s why he kept on going back to check on Matt from time to time. In a little while, he asked if he could ask me some more questions, which I obliged. Listening to our story, whether it made the cut or not, was more than enough for me to know that we were not alone on that journey.

My sisters and brothers of the Light of Jesus Feast Alabang unceasingly prayed for our safety. Led by Sis Tita Audal and my team leader Sis Angel de Guzman-Ureta, whom I texted for a prayer request when the wind started to howl and the rain started to fall, I will forever be grateful for their passion for praying over another person’s intentions. I did not also expect the financial help you extended and the packs of goodies from the Feast Alabang.

This is the pack of goodies I received from LOJ Feast Alabang

The de Leons (my sister’s in-laws) and Placiente family opened their hearts and homes to us. They had to go back and rescue us from the airport and bring us to Catbalogan City. In Catbalogan, we were able to have a full meal, although the first one we had was at a sidewalk resto. Nothing beats a cold shower and to be able to brush my teeth finally after an overnight stay at the airport. 

And to the Astorga Family for the can of Bear Brand that fed my kids, lending me the cash I needed for our exodus to Manila. Now my kids drink that brand and have forgotten the more expensive milk they were used to.

My friends Rosalind Ngo, Clarisse Yuhico-Mamitag, Jeffray dela Cruz, Mary Grace Trinidad, Meiann Morishita, Raymond Rodriguez and Family, Cristy Yu- Reyes, for the financial assistance and relief goods including used clothing. Thank you for giving your time to bring me shopping for new clothes for me and the kids. I really did not expect this. Mr. Sy of Rotary Club of Quirino Manila Central gave groceries handpicked by me and his trusted friend. My cupboard runneth over, full to last a month.

My Swiss boss/co-worker who checked on me a day after the typhoon and send me an unexpected amount of financial assistance so I would not worry about that thing, even though it means I have to work  for it forever to be able to repay it. Most importantly, for unintentionally saving me and my children’s lives when he suggested/ insinuated that I move house, because the children were constantly having asthma attacks in our former house at the YKS Apartments in Old Road Sagkahan, which is one of those houses that fell flat to the ground after being lambasted by the high waters and strong winds. Moving barely a month to the new unit in Real, we were saved from high waters and there was minimal damage to my things. If we didn’t move, we would have been a part of the statistics in body bags.

I thank dear God for sparing us on that fateful day. Only He knew what was to happen, only He knows what’s in store for the future. I once more surrender myself and my family to Him, just like how I surrendered my life and my family’s lives during the onslaught of the typhoon. It was a very difficult thing for me to do, but I trusted Him with all my heart. And I will trust Him more now because He did not fail to keep His promise.

And to the countries and every organization, charitable groups and individual who supported and send help to any part of Eastern Visayas, thank you so much.

I may not have received one single relief good from the National government, but help came overflowing from people who cared enough.

Contemplating on everything that’s happened for the past three weeks, it is very unlikely that people would forget how their personal heroes came to be. All of us survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) have someone to be thankful for.  The extent of the devastation is nothing compared to how big the hearts of those who helped us and our beloved Eastern Visayas combined.

There is hope for a better Tacloban. There is hope for a better Eastern Visayas.

Still keeping the faith,

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