A sweet, soft voice filled the humid air as I made my way through the cluster of houses ahead.
“Ang kailangan mo’y tibay ng loob kung mayrong pagsubok man
Ang liwanag ay ‘di magtatagal at muling mamasdan
Ikot ng mundo ay hindi laging pighati’t kasawian
Ang pangarap mo ay makakamtan basta’t maghintay ka lamang”
It was a fine Saturday morning, a week after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered the Visayas, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of people homeless and hungry.
“Magandang umaga po,” I greeted the group of people ahead. A mother was washing clothes in the nearby well and men were trying to repair their damaged houses. My Filipino greeting must’ve caught Nicole’s attention that she stopped singing, looked out their window and smiled warmly at me. She had been singing her baby sister to sleep. An uprooted coconut tree lay beside their small hut. I stopped beside it and scanned the neighborhood.
I heard someone call out to me. It was my colleague. I remembered I was there for an important purpose. I took pictures and asked questions. In that small coastal community, many houses were also either washed out, roofless or heavily damaged. The community wasn’t as heavily devastated as Tacloban, Capiz or Northern Cebu but they were just as affected. Families now lived with relatives and neighbors or in makeshift houses made from what remained of their old houses. Sources of living were destroyed. Food was scarce. Classes were suspended because of damaged classrooms. Children had school supplies no more.
A mother sorted through soiled clothes and household items while her two sons tried to salvage wet books and notebooks. A single father gazed at his 3 children after their day’s work in the farm. His little girl told me she wants to be a teacher someday. A boy clung to her mother’s side beside the empty space where their home had once stood.
These images spoke of unspoken struggles and uncertainties. Amid silence were brief blank stares. These images made my heart heavy. But their smiles, though awkward at times, brought a glimmer of hope in me… that despite the grim circumstances, they were slowly coming to realize all hope was not lost. This hope I found in a Christmas star which hung among whatever was left of a home. On the bus going back to the city, I closed my eyes and remembered Nicole’s cheerful and hopeful voice singing a song of hope.
Courage is found in unlikely places – J.R.R. Tolkien
I can’t remember exactly when I learned how to ride a single bike. I must have been 6 or 7 years old then because I recall having a hard time reaching for the pedals.
I can still clearly remember how it happened. It was summertime and I really wanted to learn so badly. I already knew how to ride the bike with a sidecar, and I wanted to level up. All day, I nagged my father to teach me until he said yes. That afternoon, my dad detached my grandfather’s bike from its sidecar and he started to teach me. The road in front of our family house was dusty but I didn’t mind. All I wanted was to learn to ride the single bike so I can join my friends and neighbors in their biking adventures. For the next few hours, he patiently held the bike while I pedaled and tried to balance. After a few meters, he would let go of the bike but he would still be running after me just in case I fell. We did it again and again, but I always lost balance after a few meters.
Come dusk, Dad told me it was time to end the day’s bike training. I didn’t want to stop. I just couldn’t give up. So I told him to go home ahead. When he was gone, I told myself that I could do it even if I have to learn on my own. I mounted the bike, put my right foot on the right pedal, pushed forward and tried to balance as I pedaled my way down the dusty road. But because it was getting really dark, I didn’t notice the big stone along the road. I lost my balance, crashed and got a scraped knee. It was painful, but it didn’t stop me from getting up and mounting the bike again. This time, I told myself to try one last time.
I summoned all the strength and courage in me, took a deep breath, and started pedaling. You know what happened next. I did it. I finally learned to ride a single bicycle. Hurray!
See, it takes courage and perseverance to realize a dream, coupled with guidance from other people and from God. But it must all start with your decision to pursue what it is you want to do. Sometimes it’s hard to start, sometimes it’s even painful, but you won’t go any far unless you take that first step.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer of children’s storybooks. This is one of my first attempts at it. I’ll try to translate it to English soon.
Title: Kaya Ko Kaya?
Akyat. Baba. Akyat. Baba.
Kunot noong pinagmamasdan ni Tatay Angelino ang kanyang sampung taong gulang na anak na si Nina habang akyat-baba ito sa kanilang hagdan. “Anak, ano bang nangyayari sa iyo at parang hindi ka mapakali?” nag-aalalang sabi niya.
“Papa, hindi ko talaga kaya! Gusto ko pero natatakot ako,” hindi matiyak ni Nina kung sasabihin ba niya sa ama ang kanyang problema.
“Naku, may problema pala ang aking anak! Bakit hindi mo sabihin kay Papa at baka matulungan ka niya,” may lambing ang boses ni Tatay Angelino.
“Sasabihin ko ba sa kanya?” tanong ni Nina sa sarili. “Errr…eh kasi Papa inannounce ni Teacher Norma sa klase na may Poster-Making contest na naman sa school namin. Gusto ko sanang sumali kaya lang hindi ko yata kaya,” paliwanag ni Nina.
Napangiti si Tatay Angelino. “Anak, bakit hindi mo subukan. Naniniwala ako sa iyong kakayahan. Kayang kaya mo yun!”
“Papa, natatakot nga ako! Baka hindi nila magustuhan ang drawing ko. Baka pagtawanan lang nila ako. Nakakahiya! Saka alam ko namang may mas magaling pa sakin magdrawing sa klase,” sabi ni Nina.
Niyakap ng mahigpit ni Tatay Angelino si Nina. “Anak, hindi mahalaga kung ano ang sasabihin ng iba. Ang importante, sundin mo ang sinasabi ng iyong puso at kung saan ka masaya. Kung gusto mong lumikha ng mga magagandang larawan, gawin mo ito. Dahil ipinagkaloob ito ng Diyos sa iyo at kailangan mong ibahagi sa iba.”
Mahigpit na yumakap si Nina sa kanyang ama. Bukas na bukas din, alam na niya ang kanyang gagawin.