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Monday, December 17, 2018

Custodio: Surviving storms and other calamities

AND so, the whole world watched as Yolanda wreaked havoc across our beloved archipelago. The unfurling of the super typhoon seemed like a week’s worth of episodes from a telenovela -- everybody was anticipating how it would play out and end. I cannot help but wonder at how Pagasa has improved with their weather-forecasting and also a bit sad that in the past years there has been an exodus of our meteorologists to other countries for better compensation. I am also quite happy about the safety measures that were taken by the government (national and local) to make sure that the affected areas are prepared for the onslaught of wind and rain. As we may know by now, that was really one helluva typhoon! It was raining, cats dogs, cows and chickens! It was scary seeing it on television and knowing directly from friends in the affected areas how horrifying it was to actually experience the typhoon firsthand! I was actually up until the wee hours in the morning channel surfing on cable trying to gather information about the coming typhoon.

It was weird to fall asleep with all that typhoon information then wake up to a warm, sunshine-bathed day in Davao last Friday. I was really thankful for the good weather that we had that I wanted to post a picture and a cheery status message with divine thanks that everything was ‘normal’ in Davao City. It was hot with no signs of rain in Davao! Yeyy!! But I decide against posting anything of that sort. It just did not feel right to say it while we had fellowmen huddled in fear of the howling wind and torrential rains in other parts of the country. It just wouldn’t seem fair and I did not want people to think that I was gloating!

I spent most of the day either glued to the television for latest developments or staring at the skies for any signs of rain. Prior to this super typhoon, we were met with actual videos of waterspouts off a shore of a small town in Surigao. I watched that video many times and I could not help but think about that scene in the movie “Twister” where a waterspout somehow finds its way into land, then becoming a tornado! I remember thinking then, while watching the movie, how admirable the computer-generated images were made. It seemed so real! Nothing really prepared me to see an actual waterspout on amateur video while the whole town watched by the beach, as if it were just a movie! It was unsettling to see people milling around, wandering closer for a better view!

As if that wasn’t enough, the earthquake happened shortly thereafter. Oh here we go again! It was difficult to see parts of the Philippines in ruins; much more see thousands of lives affected by such a calamity. The articles on the Marikina fault system and the Philippine fault line maps kept me awake at night! I remember an article posted by a friend of mine on Facebook. It was about taking the “tour of Marikina fault system.” It had a map and clear instructions where to go and what to look out for while searching for the fault line that starts in Marikina, courses through the Ateneo de Manila University campus, White Plains until you reached Ortigas! It also relates how it somehow ends somewhere in Cavite and that itis actually just a part of a fault line that runs from Luzon to MIndanao! Oh that kept me up all night alright! The funny(?) thing is that I actually considered going on that fault line discovery tour! It would be a choose-your-own-adventure kind of thing which I was planning on doing the next time I find myself in Manila!

Needless to say, the recent calamities have sensitized the whole country about nature’s wrath befalling the 7, 107 islands that make up our country. This probably explains why news of the super typhoon quickly gained everyone’s attention. (Lest we forget that there were reports of tornadoes in Cebu a few days prior to the typhoon, too!) Well, there are still who chose not to follow instructions to seek better shelter but most people actually did not risk their safety. I am happy that the whole country actually prepared for this one.

It never ceases to amaze me how resilient people can be during times like these. Even when tragedy and desolation surrounds the people who are greatly affected by the recent calamities, there would always be someone in the background of a news feed making that Mr. Pogi sign. In the midst of tearfully recounting a harrowing experience there would be a smile and signs of a non-defeatist attitude declaring that life goes on even when you’ve lost your house, your means of living and some members of your family. Yes it is a sad fact that comes with these natural calamities but one cannot discount the fact how boldly and brightly the human spirit shines during these trying times. Somehow, seeing this in the people who had to directly experience nature’s wrath makes me feel that things will be okay. The country may probably emerged scathed and hurting, but healing will definitely occur.

I have always believed in Nietzsche’s “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” It is one of my favorite incantations whenever I needed encouragement and that extra push to continue on doing something I find extremely difficult to do. I have proven its constructive validity so many times that I know it to be true. Whenever I am challenged and the stressful experience starts to get the better of me, I just say my mantra and it pushes me to try anyway! We are all worth the extra effort. Surviving through difficult times can definitely feel like you’re going through the eye of a needle but it needs to be done. It feels great when you know you made it through, right? I would be equally satisfied to know that I died trying!

All of us have our own personal storms and calamities. We try to learn as much as we can from past experiences but when we truly think about it, nothing will really completely prepare us for what might lie ahead. In a way, this makes life exciting albeit there are times when we would rather be bored but safe than stirred and stressed! We cannot really say that preparation does not do much because it does! Having that frame of mind allows us to adjust to whatever may come. It really is not just being physically prepared to ‘fight,’ we also have to be emotionally and mentally primed for the worst scenarios. Life really is an adventure and it will continuously test us how far we are willing to go! It is not all good and all roses but that’s the way it goes for everyone! So, just keep going!!

Happy Sunday Everyone! :)
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