Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘Haiyan’

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!

Leveling Down the Contention of Words

This is what Typhoon Yolanda left in this once thriving city of Tacloban, Leyte. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

This is what Typhoon Yolanda left in this once thriving city of Tacloban, Leyte. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

“There has never been anything at the magnitude of what we are trying to do now,” Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras told palace reporters at a press briefing last Nov. 13, “Not in size, not in volume, not in even the breadth of it.”

As the national government admits being appalled at the disaster left by Typhoon Haiyan (or Typhoon Yolanda as its FIlipino name) ten days ago, the rest of the world feels mutual. It’s like watching a horror movie, except it is in the primetime newscasts. However, being in the very scene of it still feels surreal to me.

I would have loved to tag along with one of our teams assigned to Tacloban City last week. Tacloban, Leyte was one of the greatly devastated places left by Yolanda. But considering the place’s limited necesities for a woman like me, only an all-male team was sent.

As first hand witnesses to a storm’s aftermath, I tried to understand the hardships they experienced. They had no place to stay, no food and water to sustain them (as they have given their provisions to the Tacloban people), and they have to endure the stench of the dead and of human waste. But how much more I tried to feel the heart break for the people who endure the loss of what they have owned and the loss of their very loved ones. What was left was their very existence, coping with the last strain of humanity nearly being snatched from them. They try to survive in a desolated town unfit for living.

It might be easy to say that the rest of us who stayed wish to come to

The people of Tacloban almost at a loss as they have lost their homes --- and even their loved ones. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

The people of Tacloban almost at a loss as they have lost their homes — and even their loved ones. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

Tacloban just to give out a hug…or maybe a small act of kindness through food and water. But how far are we willing to go? How far would we be willing to sacrifice time and your comfort zone to feel their pain. Living there sounds too inhumane for most of us. Helpless, all we can do is sigh and speak out our thoughts and symphathy.

As I watch from afar, it’s a pain to hear criticisms and politicizing at all sides. There’s this underlying contention between the main government bodies, the private entities, and the vox populi. We can talk too much. It’s easy to give blame. But can’t we just shut up and try to feel the pain of the victims themselves? Perhaps, it’s easy to make conclusions in what goes on in their everyday life. But can’t we think of focusing at their basic needs first? These people, are just like us — human, limited, and in need of one another.

Perhaps, most of us can never understand how it is to be in their shoes. For us living far from them, we try to comprehend what flashes through our screens or what blares through our airwaves. But we can never see the whole picture. Who are we to judge conclusions, then?

Perhaps, some of us can never get the chance to reach them personally. Perhaps, most of us might never understand the whole picture of what’s happening and why it happened. But setting aside our own conclusions and criticisms might help rebuild a new future. A little grace, a little love, through our what-we-have can uplift their spirits. Behind the camera, must be a more drastic story beyond words.

Sowing Away the Hidden Seed

IMG_0490[1]What do we gain when we give away love through our money and other material possessions despite having nothing? Sacrificing what we have is not easy, especially when what we see is enough for ourselves.

Let’s admit, it’s not easy to give, even for a cause. My mom has seen this in some of her comrades at their senior citizen’s group. She suggested that instead of spending for their Christmas party this year, she urged her fellow officers to give money to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (or Typhoon Yolanda as its Philippine name). However, most of them were hesitant. The reason: they’re not sure if it will go to the victims. But soon enough, they were convinced, as the organization she suggested is legitimate and has been doing outreach missions for years. She was just saddened to find out that most of them handed down less than half of what each spend for their Christmas parties.

I’m not against Christmas parties. I enjoy them. It’s just our security on our money that binds us from sharing with others.

I must admit, I’m still struggling in this area at this point of writing. We have heard countless times that what we sow is what we’ll reap. But due to our culture of gaining and fighting for our rights, we have disregarded the principle of sowing and reaping many times.

Most of us have been pampered with material possessions. As a yuppie, I’ve grown to the idealism of treating myself, causing me to buy things and food I don’t need. I’m one of this generation’s impulsive buyers, which regrettably had me at debt at most times. Lofty food is one of my weaknesses. I am one of those willing to spend big bucks for expensive meals. However, when someone is in need, I would think it over before giving anything — and when I give, I give too little.

I realized today that I have lost much because I’m not a cheerful giver. Actually, I am a good saver, but due to bank closures and joblessness two years ago, I lost my savings. I have been selfish in my own principles of handling money, not realizing that everything we handle is temporary. I never give much, not even love and mercy, for I was a skeptic at humankind. I viewed that everyone is not a good steward of whatever I lend or give. But I’ve judged too much. I was the one who’s not a good steward.

Right now, I am in the learning process of being a good steward of money. The more painful part here is learning to give money to the needy. In every fruit of our labor is a seed we need to sow. Of course, we cannot eat the whole fruit, right? So, we have to sow the seed into good ground to produce a hundredfold. It’s the same with money. We can’t keep it all. So, we have to give part of it to the “good ground”, let’s say an organization or to the needy. We might be surprised how much will be given back to us.

A friend of mine had taught me this before I went to Ireland. Having no money to go there, I was holding on to what I have. But my friend, a prophetic fellow, sensed that the Lord was teaching me to give despite of having nothing. It’s a hard process to learn. But there is blessing in obedience. I was surprised that a few friends supported for my pocket money right after, even though I did not ask them. Right now, though, I’m still settling my plane ticket! But I know God is faithful and that He provides all my needs. šŸ™‚

It’s a Biblical principle. Believer or no believer, I’ve seen how this principle is fulfilled when done. I’ve heard testimonies on how blessed are the people who sacrificed much. It’s no wonder that some rich people become richer, for they have secretly given part of their income to foundations.

It’s not money that matters at this point. It’s how we view it. Everything we receive is meant to be shared, even the kindness and love we receive. We might not see the results when we give part of ourselves away, but in time we will realize what kind of harvest will be grown when we sacrifice what we have — even a part of it. Just as the seed that grew into a hundredfold when planted into good ground, it would be the same when we give love through acts or money. Sacrifice of love will reap an abundance of love. Sacrifice of our money will reap an abundance of income. May we live the lifestyle of sowing into good ground and thus reap back a hundredfold in our lives.

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