Season of sorrow

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By Stella A. Estremera

Spider’s web

Saturday, December 17, 2011

JUST one more week and it would have been a merry Christmas, but not, for in just a matter of hours, what started as a wet first Simbang Gabi became a disaster that we in Davao still cannot get a full grasp of. What is happening in Cagayan de Oro? Why are friends among those who are asking for help? How is it in Iligan City? Why are we not getting the news as fast as we would have wanted them to come?

Maybe because even the bringer of the news are just as immobilized, my subconscious whispered, a whisper I wished to ignore. Not. The little photos that are trickling in are too disturbing.

Just one more week and it would have been a merry Christmas, but my friend Eviang chose to leave us much, much earlier. There will be no more Christmases in pain for her as she fought ‘til her last breath to make everyone as comfortable as possible.


Eviang was one of a kind. She’d worry about everyone except herself and stuff you still you burp, even if her bones were already aching from the cancer that’s was eating inside her. But the passing on of busy-bees like her leave a trail of frustration (of sorts) because how can you even start picking up where she left off when you don’t know how she started on all those? Parties for poor children, school fees, errr? what else need to be done? It was easier with her around, we didn’t even have to worry about SEC registration. She had it all down to pat. She was the leader and the follower and the secretary and the gofer rolled into one. We just munched and sang along. Now? where were we? Darn.

Passing on? How quick or how slow, we will never know. Eviang fought for nine years. The greater battle against metastasis, which she nearly won, took the cancer cells spread all over long months to debilitate her, her faith ever strong, never wavering until the very last day. But just yesterday hundreds of families went to sleep confident of another day that never came. We are seeing them again, cadavers caked in mud. But now, the scenes are worse, the cakes of mud are not just on cadavers and cars, but on top of roofs of houses that withstood the rampaging waters and mud. Silent markers of how high the water and mud went.

It’s now Signal No. 2, Waway said as we travelled back from Digos to Davao City, Friday noon. We left the city with a storm signal number one raised for Mati and Samal. We returned to Signal Number 2 for both places. We waited, but no news was coming from those points. The tragedy struck farther away north.

Grabe daw ang Cagayan de Oro, a friend said. But the information cannot be verified. It’s a Saturday and all you’re gonna see in the morning shows are doctors telling us how to shave off our health expenses and entrepreneurs teaching us how to make more money, while the news stations are still busy with prayers and preachers. Even Facebook was quiet, except for a few but scattered status messages from friends who are there.

The mud-caked roofs, however, defies understanding. How can water rise so high and yet not be seen by so many?

In these changing times, comprehension may have to take the backseat, and let action take the lead because in comprehending, we start to ask and in asking we start to accuse. But for how long? We just have to figure that one out ourselves.

Staring at the brown waters of Davao River, I wonder about the tragedy it is capable of making. I shudder in quiet denial.

As the extent of yet another disaster trickled in, I texted friend Trisha to offer the office once more to be their northern area drop-off point for relief goods. Trisha heads ABS-CBN in Mindanao. Help. Let us all help. Our office is at Grandland Building, R. Castillo Street, Agdao. In this way, you don’t have to drive up all the way to Shrine Hills to deliver your donations, we will do it for you.

I have to end this rambling, there is still the Christmas party to prepare for. I just want to chug down wine, drown my sorrows and send these off to all those who drowned. Eviang would've known what else to do. I still can’t get my cue for that Christmas party presentation, and yes, I have to rush out to get a gift for my manita. Life goes on. Sad, but true. Trisha? They had theirs the night Sendong made landfall; a luau in a cold, wet night. Climate change.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 18, 2011.


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