An aftermath reflection

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ONE weekend after super typhoon Yolanda, aka Haiyan, hit Central Visayas, including the northern part of Cebu province, I joined a group of volunteers to help distribute food and bottled water to the hapless victims of climate change in that area.

The human miseries due to the massive destruction of properties, injuries and loss of lives, hunger and deprivation we saw among the typhoon victims broke our hearts. But, as volunteers, we could only do so much.

Indeed, we only had more tears to shed than money to give to the victims.

Nonetheless, we were there to lend a hand to some typhoon victims. But the smiles of thanksgiving we saw on their faces as they eagerly stretched out their hands to receive personally from us the food and bottled water somehow uplifted our spirits, as if gisukli-an pa mi labaw pa sa among nahatag nila.

As I reflected on what I saw and gazed at the now calm sea along the shoreline of the town of Bantayan, I remembered a Cebuano poem or ''balak,'' which I learned to memorize when I was still in grade six some 54 years ago.

I would often hear it recited as part of a prelude to a Cebuano radio melodrama very popular at that time. It goes this way (pardon my own revision or lapses, if any):

Ang kinabuhi sa tawo sama sa dagat.

Usahay takyapan sa kalinaw,

Hubog sa tanang kadasig,

Ug mahilumon daw nakaangkon sa tanang katagbawan.

Apan ang maong kalinaw

Malagmit tugawon sa usa ka mabangis nga gahum,

Mokanlat sa katapusang unos sa lusay,

Ug mahanaw lang usab sama sa usa ka hoyohoy sa hangin.

Indeed, this Cebuano ''balak'' is an apt reminder for us of what human life is.

Moreover, on a personal note, that mission trip to Bantayan also reminded me of the first verse of a Cebuano song: "Balud sa kapalaran hunong na..."

As a child, I first heard this sung in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental after another typhoon "Amy" that struck the area some time on Dec. 9, 1951, which totally destroyed our house and my father's general merchandising store.

The said typhoon forced my parents and six siblings to evacuate from the ravaged area and relocate to Cebu City. I was only five years old then, already a typhoon survivor. But no regrets.

Indeed, there is life after every typhoon. Atty. Amay P. Ong Vaño of Cebu City

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 10, 2013.


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