Love amidst Yolanda – our Bantayan experience

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Saturday, December 7, 2013


“WHEN you make others live, laugh, learn and love, you do the same to yourself.” This is one of the inspiring short messages I received which, I believe, affirms the real meaning of life.

Love abounds immensely in every man’s heart. This love and our concern for one another was again put to test and boldly demonstrated with the ways we extended prayers and helping hands to our brothers and sisters in Eastern and Central Visayas who were affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

So when our friend and sister in our renewal community Andge Bula presented to us “primas” (our term of endearment for our cell group) the sad state of her relatives in Bantayan Island, Cebu whose lives and properties were greatly affected by super typhoon Yolanda, we and many friends and friends of friends immediately responded to the call.

Happiness belongs to those who always think of others. And happy folks oozing with love and generosity brought in used children and adult clothings, clean linens, sacks of rice, boxes of water, canned goods, noodles, coffee, vitamins, medicines and even sanitary napkins. Truly, love abounds.

But still the initial collection of contributions was not enough to fill the truck willingly offered by Kenneth Kho. So, Andge broached the subject to her classmate in Graduate School who is working in GMA TV. Good graces, the TV station Bacolod office gave Andge five big boxes of segregated clothing for kids and adults! Big blessings, indeed! Again, love manifested.

Another significant support we received was from the Society of Young Management Accountants (SYMA) of the University of St. La Salle. Spearheaded by its moderator Dr. Felix D. Cena, students and faculty members joyfully shared their resources for food and water to the genteel people of Bantayan.

Just like lighted candles, the charitable act through the relief goods shared by wonderful people lit the lives of the people in Guiwanon and Sta. Fe in Bantayan. True enough, electricity is still to be restored when we arrived there. Those who can afford the generator have the luxury of light, but for most who don’t have the gen set, lighted candles and gas lamps provide them the glimmer of hope.

Still love prevails. Stories of mothers protecting their children during the surge, or neighbors sharing shelter with the displaced ones, or relatives and friends extending helping hands to those in need warm our hearts.

Our hosts in Guiwanon, the family of Jimboy and Laura Alvarado, and their wonderful children, Megan Louise and Matthew Bryan, gladly lent their simple abode for the relief goods. Relatives helped us repack the items. But what really touched our hearts are not only their re-telling of their horrible experiences during the landfall of the super typhoon but their sincerest gratitude when they get their share of the relief items.

T’was dusk when we left Guiwanon for Sta. Fe. Still, Gigi and the Desquitado family awaited us. Despite the darkness, the cold breeze from the nearby shore cooled our tired bodies. Love from Mother Nature is genuinely refreshing.

Early morning found us leaving some goods to Gigi and her family and Andge’s relatives. But we left the three boxes we still have to the parish office of the local Sto. Niño church.

Love, concern, responsibility – these give us more satisfaction from the pleasures of bringing them to others, without counting anything in return. But on hindsight, as I was musing on board the motorized boat bound for Old Sagay, it was not us who brought love to the comely and genial people of Bantayan. They were the ones who taught us and showed us the true meaning of love – by allowing us to come into their lives. Amidst the wreckage of Yolanda, love truly abounds.

To the Alvarado, Bula, Cena, Desamparado, and Desquitado families who warmly welcomed us in Bantayan, “madamo gid nga salamat”! And to all the “primas,” friends (Gigi Dellera, Mary Jane Dugangay who went with us), GMA TV Bacolod, SYMA-USLS, and the many kindred souls who helped us in our cause, may the good Lord bless you abundantly.*

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 07, 2013.

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