Shaken-A A +A
Saturday, October 19, 2013
I DON'T know where to start. The events of the week just kept on piling up, one harrowing event after the other that it seemed really hard to recover from the blows of bad news that plagued the past few days. I remember ending Monday with the thought of tornadoes. Just before going to bed, I did a “one last look” and peeked at my social networking account. One of my friends had posted a video of a tornado in the water (actually they’re waterspouts) off the shore of a town in Surigao del Norte.
A long time ago, tornadoes were a thing that happened far away and in Hollywood movies. They were natural occurrences I associated with the other side of the world, far far away. Not in the Philippines. And certainly not on the island that I live in! I have seen too many tornadoes on international news and have watched Twister more times than I care to count to know what great devastation it can bring to any place that it chooses to wreak havoc in! Silently, I was singling out global warming for bringing these twisting dust devils into Philippine shore! I thought I had come to terms with it by morning. After all, the tornado (waterspout) stayed in the water and did not cause any loss or damage and then the earthquake happened. Whew.
And then, the earth shook.
I found out mid-day. I do not remember what exactly it was I first saw but when I started seeing pictures of the historical centuries-old churches reduced to a pile of rubble, my heart just sank. I have been to Bohol and Cebu and have seen most of those churches that have now become dust. I was just overcome with sadness. Throughout the day, I would become exposed to countless accounts and videos of the the experiences of different people who were there as the earthquake happened and the sensory experience was just too much for me. It brought me back to that day in July in the 1990s when a 7.8 earthquake hit Luzon. I was on my way home from school. I remember sitting inside the jeep and suddenly feeling dizzy from vigorous shaking. I thought someone was just playing a prank on the passengers but as I looked out into the surroundings, the posts were swaying, the trees and bushes were shaking and people were falling over from the movement!
I remember telling myself, “Uh-oh. Earthquake.” Our jeep had just finished gassing up and as the ground continued to shake, I became less aware about how strong the shaking was because we were in transit. But I did see how people were scrambling to get out of the buildings. Still, I was calm. No harm there. Just people getting out for safety reasons. Boy. Was I in for a surprise. As my bus ride home drove through EDSA, I was not prepared for what I saw. The streets were strewn with people in panic. There were passengers in our bus who alighted bloodied and quite shaken by what happened. The guy who sat beside me had been standing near the windows when the ground shook, the wounds on his face were from the shreds of glass that hit him. As we drove through the streets we saw hospital beds on the street as nurses scurried to bring patients to safer ground. People were in a state of shock and panic. Children were crying. Really, it was just too much. The nights were not any better as aftershocks came and went. I was in my sleepwear in the streets in the middle of the night. I lived in a ten-storey building--you can just imagine how the quakes felt. Needless, it took some time before I could sleep soundly. Somehow, this recent earthquake has conjured up those menacing memories again.
I cannot seem to shake this gloom. I have reached week’s end and I am still feeling down in the dumps. I know, we all go through these things but it just seems harder to accept when it is on the news everyday. It is bad enough that you feel sad for those who have been directly affected by the earthquake, but I feel even worse that old feelings from past similar experiences have been conjured into consciousness, too.
So what does one do? I have always gone for the brighter side of life. It is a choice to be happy because really, there are things in life that require extra effort to achieve, most specially when you are going through some serious situations that usually erases any trace of “happy” from anyone’s face. Call it Pollyanna attitude or what, but being blindly optimistic has proven to be a great tool for my survival in my life experiences. It has worked wonders, honestly. It is great when it works, right? But we cannot win at everything. There are things that will remain as you found them, no matter how you try to change it. You can sugarcoat painful experiences as much as you want but in the end, when you get into the core, its disagreeable flavor will still be there. That’s just how it is.
Life is yin and yang. And well, with light comes darkness. So, in the dark phases of your existence, it is important to learn lessons well and remember it for the rest of your life. Although that particular time of your life may bring about sombre memories in the future, remember that you actually have managed to survive to “commemorate” it! You have actually lived through it and that is never a bad thing! My heart and mind goes out to our Fellowmen who are directly affected by the earthquake and I cry for them. But, the Filipino spirit is hard to extinguish, from the pile of rubble, it will rise again. In the mean time, let us pray for them and assist them in any way that we can.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 20, 2013.