DEC. 17, 2021. We went outside as soon as the sun shone. We checked the damage and realized our roof was no longer there. Suddenly, we heard the familiar jingling of bottle caps accompanied by a toy guitar—Christmas carolers singing a medley of Visayan Christmas songs.

The singing made things feel a little better. As we gave the carolers some loose change, they gazed up at our house and said “pasensya sa pag-panaygon” (“Our apologies for the caroling”).

It made my heart sink hearing people apologize for just trying to survive another day. The recent typhoon that hit the province of Cebu and several other provinces in the evening of Dec. 16, 2021 seemed like a holy cleanse—an event to humble us and make us realize the privileges we’ve been taking for granted for so long.

Before all of these, life seemed normal, boring and repetitive. But after the typhoon hit, Cebu knelt and it made us ponder on all the simplest things we had ignored daily. A common sight: People in very long queues for water, fuel, food and supplies, structures being defaced, utility poles collapsing, trees being uprooted—nature had the final say and humans were the ones to suffer. Even taking a shower seemed like a luxury.

It’s unfortunate that this calamity happened in the time of Covid-19, when people have already been dying every day. It’s been a series of unfortunate events but despite this, Cebuanos are still celebrating the spirit of Christmas, still clinging on to hope that there are better days ahead, that the only way now is up, which actually amuses me. It’s as they’ve been saying, “Bagyo ra na, Bisaya ta.”

For the first time, children put their phones down, disconnected from the internet and connected with family. People started talking, and looking after their neighbors. The typhoon united us. It made us human. It made us realize that our time on Earth is borrowed and that we should never take anything or anyone for granted.

These events taught us to be kind to each other, because some of us are just trying to survive.