Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Archive for December, 2013

Tindog Tacloban!

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

“Tindog Tacloban!”

This is the message that was written almost everywhere in the city where much attention and focus has been given after Typhoon Yolanda’s wrath. From the native tongue of Taclobanon, this phrase means, “Rise up, Tacloban!”

It is already past three weeks ago since I came to Tacloban, Leyte for a one day coverage of Yolanda’s aftermath. But the memory of a recovering city never fades away. A day is not enough for me take up every truth behind the lens.

For the first time, I’ve landed in Visayas. From the airport itself, I can’t help but be appalled, as the workers struggled back to normalcy. The city was being cleaned, and it’s good to see that no more bodies were scattered when we came. Still, there are much to recover and many are still homeless.

I was anticipating for this visit, but catching up with a day’s coverage left me dissatisfied much. I wanted to know much more, to talk to every people in Tacloban and if given the chance, the whole Leyte. I’d wish to capture everything — as in everything — the emotions and the reality behind the camera.

I felt like a wolf ravaging for a good story in a limited time. As a journalist, I wanted to feel the very heart and soul of

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

these people and digest every stories they wanted to share. I wanted to take time and leave them with great love, too. But the constraint at work limited my soul into a corner. In order to fulfill my mission, I had to complete it emotionlessly.

Despite of these limits, I caught a glimpse of the hope that glimmers after the storm. From the glint in the eyes of the survivors I interviewed, the smiles that welcomed us from the broken houses and ruins, and messages of hope sprawled in the broken walls, hope overcomes the trodden structures around us. I may not have seen the storm itself, and yet I am — until now — fascinated with the resilience that my fellowmen kept in their spirits all these times.

I tried to dismiss the heartbreak as I saw the ravaged cities in my one day stay. But what I would never like to forget is the strength these people kept, that caused them to stand admist the ruins. Before the day ended, I swore deep inside my heart that I will return. Perhaps, by then, it is not the devastated city struggling to rise, but it is a new city teeming with much life that sprouted from this glint of hope I’ve seen.

Now is the time. Tindog Tacloban!

Work Refines Character

This is the rush hour season. It’s worst than cramming for your high school exams. You get loads of deadlines after deadlines. You have to finish special reports and year end reports or you’re dead. Welcome to the character crucible.

You end your work, get a good result, and air it on time. But usually, at the end of the day, when my eyes are half-closed, I realize I made grave mistakes: the epic failure of character realignment.

I admit I get tantrums. And like a kid I always demand my rights for my rights. But after the end of the day there was never any glory for no glorious character was exemplified. Just rights demanded for rights.

Work is good. It’s not the fault of work why I get tantrums. My reaction to pressure is a reflection of what I want.

And so I stay in the fire. And like gold, dross come out when heated into the intense flames. All I wanted was to come out pure. But am I ready for the removal of these dross?

I don’t need the excess dross yet all I thought they were a part of me. Would I oblige? I guess I still got a long way. Like gold, I am in a long purification process.

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Overcoming the World

Great is the battle we’re facing. All of us are born idealists. We are meant to overcome. But only a few emerge from the ashes. It’s a matter of perspective on how we overcome. The worlds to overcome are paradoxial.

It’s not easy to change the world. We want to pull down strongholds of hopelessness, injustice, and corruption. But it can never be done if we embrace these very strongholds.

To overcome the world, we have to overcome our personal struggles. How can we pull down hopelessness if we lack hope within us? No injustice will be shaken if we are unjust to our very brothers. Corruption will flourish if we deny our tolerance to this base culture in our own daily practices. The weapons we use are formed by the values we uphold. We cannot charge towards the battlefield if we can’t escape the prison of our personal struggles.

We begin with ourselves, then we overturn the world. We see change when we ourselves are willing to change. History makers are overcomers. Overcomers overcome their own weaknesses.

Birthed After Refinement

The death of one seed is the birth of many blossoms.

Have you ever wondered how beautiful one can become when tested?

Think of the majestic butterfly after it struggled as a hated caterpillar in a tightly-squeezed cocoon.

Think of the powerful eagle that was once helpless and weak at its birth.

Think of the beautiful diamond that endured intense polishing after discovered as an rough and ugly volcano rock.

Think of the pure, shining gold that has passed through refiner’s fine.

What would these trials and testing make you?

Think of what you would be after passing through them…

Broken Kingdom

Let the walls break
The foundations come crashing down
The earth cracks open
And the mountains crumble and fall
Would you but not wince
At the blood-stained sun
While I try to catch the waters
From the drying oceans we knew
But we will not vanish
With this world dying in pain
From our faded bodies new wings
Break forth upon our spines
With bloodied hands we build
A new world filled with hope
Bring forth a kingdom long declared
To last for a time and forevermore

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