Of candlelight musings and paper stars

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Monday, December 30, 2013

THE moon hovered over every little sad thing below, including an impatient father, nagging about his son’s arrival from town with a box of matchsticks. Earlier at twilight, fireflies seemed to be the fairest hints of peace in the dark despite the stench of misery. Typhoon Yolanda happened more than a month ago, and yet with the year ending, memories seem to grow stronger instead.

The sky turned grey. The world was left in a silhouette of uncertainty. The sea courted the shore as if it didn’t reduce a city into a wasteland a while back. A chorus of children’s tantrums and prayers rose up to the heavens together. The air smelled of a thousand reasons why existence sometimes feels like a dream.

Meanwhile, an observer was picking up the pieces in the dead of the night. Still, there’s no place like home.


“Don’t sleep! Look, we are near land already!” the perhaps Air Force officer shouted to the sleepy and equally tired seven-year-old child.

Lt. Col. Fermin Carangan could have shrugged off the stroke of luck prior to bumping off with Miguel in the water; while the boy, in his weary body, could have dozed off to paradise forever. Death was probably waiting below. Both could have given up on life. After all, everything went haywire with the catastrophe named Yolanda.

Six hours in the waters. It seemed to flow to nowhere. And as fate (or faith) would have it, Carangan and Miguel were washed by the current to dry land.


At the zenith of the typhoon’s powers, love seemed to whisper only to those who were drunk with fairy tales while confusion possessed those who refused to believe.

Houssam Hammoudi has a “drunken” confession. In his sobriety, the 31-year-old Canadian Muslim from Montreal left his comfort zone and married his online fiancé from Ormoc, Leyte, in the latter’s hospital room. Both personally met each other for the first time after barely a year of virtual relationship. Mary Grace Acojedo is 22 with a six-year-old son.

The storm’s debris marred Acojedo’s face. Hammoudi could have rewritten his heart’s story. But, yes, love conquers all.


Thoughts danced into an abyss of questions. A city girl wanted to get out of her edgy self. Two days of silence was enough to pull herself together for a not-your-everyday-fieldtrip to the green, green grass of home.

The following morning after she arrived, she took her two-year-old nephew out and moseyed through the remainders of the field at the back of their house leading to the shore. If it wasn’t an unfortunate scenario, she didn’t know what it was.

They walked and walked until they reached a spot where elementary school notebooks were hanged up on a wire like those dripping clothes under the summer sun. She was taking pictures around with her phone when her nephew called up. Pointing at the rightmost notebook with moon and stars printed on the cover, the kid beamed “Auntie, look! Timkel wittol tar!”

She couldn’t even look him in the eyes. She turned her back and breathed hope while the boy was singing the nursery rhyme at the top of his tiny lungs and heart.

And just like that, Yolanda hammered life away one November morning. It seemed like there was really nothing in between then and tomorrow.

Humanity once again surfaced as a tiny spec in the universe until stories of survival circulated as favorites along with the aftermath of the distortion.

At night, fidgety shadows celebrate their glorified distress. Ugly remnants are yet to simmer down. But as long as croaks are still heard from a frog or two somewhere in the lonely marsh, sooner or later the rain will stop. On some days, the sky is still blue.

Christmas is not so far away. Carry on.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 31, 2013.


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