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
“May rainbow din po ba sa heaven?”
I woke up with a terrible headache, having barely slept that night. It had rained hard all night and dark clouds loomed the horizon that Saturday morning, dispelling all my excitement. The day hasn’t even started, but I felt it was going to be bleak. At 6 am, I groggily set out for my early morning class excursion.
I stood beside a puddle of rain water at the side of the road. I looked down at my muddy red sneakers and noticed the rainbow-like effect created from the thin film of oil on the puddle, which probably leaked from the trucks that came and went through that narrow road leading to the dump site at Pier 18. I dipped the tip of my shoes in the puddle and watched the ripple spread, my mind dreaming of hot chocolate and pancakes.
“May rainbow din po ba sa heaven?” Her tiny voice jolted me from my daydream. I lifted my gaze upward and saw her looking at the iridescent oil slick. She wore a shabby shirt and shorts, a frail body underneath. Her slippers needed replacement, her feet were covered with mud and dirt. Her eyes were wide with amazement at the rainbow. She looked at me with tired, sad eyes and smiled. I smiled back and nodded my answer. Then, she ran off before I even got a chance to ask her name.
On our way back to the university, I thought of that little girl again. Her sad smile haunted me. Young as she was, I felt that she was already exhausted and tired of life. I prayed that she would find hope in that seemingly hopeless place, even in simple things such as that rainbow in the puddle.
The vicious cycle of poverty traps many poor families and pulls them deeper and deeper into a world of helplessness. If people in dire conditions lose all hope that they may one day be able to break out of poverty, the next generations are the ones who will truly suffer. Seeds of hope, such as what rainbows after a rain create, can be seeds of dreams and seeds of a better life. Let’s all try to plant seeds of hope and dreams. Let’s not get tired to do so, even when we feel nothing is getting better. Let’s not forget to hope and hopefully, one day, our world will truly be filled with joy and life.
February 20, 2011 ~ 10:30PM ~ Paraclete Renewal Center, Tacloban City, Leyte
Oh, what a great day this has been! I consider myself blessed to be in the midst of amazing and wonderful people. It is just so heartwarming to witness and hear stories of learnings, gratefulness, and transformation… of simple, often unnoticed people taking baby steps to confidence… of life lived well and good… of lost dreams and new ones. I love the delicious food and lovely chit-chats with new acquaintances and most of all the beautiful full moon and night sky full of stars! I truly deeply love this life!
Today, I also learned many things about life from someone who’s living it to the full. I certainly look forward not just to a happy and contented life, but a life of learning from mistakes and wrong turns, of forgotten dreams and new adventures. Best of all, I want to live my life giving glory to the One who created me.
Life is beautiful, if you see it that way. 🙂
I saw this from one of the many notebooks I sometimes use to write my thoughts on. This was written last November 26, 2011 while sitting in one of the benches in Trinoma as I waited for my cousin.
I am bothered… knowing that I have no idea what’s in store for me in the year ahead. I feel I am back at the crossroad again. This time, though, there are signs in all directions so I just have to choose one road. Once I choose a road, I fear there’s no turning back. I fear that when I finally decide which road to take, I might regret it one day. And then for sure I’ll find myself in another crossroad again. It is pretty tiring going back to that same spot.
One choice. One road. That moment when you decide to let go and let God. That second when you free your mind from all the worries and confusions and just plunge into the universe ahead. I look forward to be in that moment… when all of the universe opens up and ushers you into the world where you belong.
On the other hand, it excites me to know that life will never be same again once I decide. My whole being tingles with joy believing that something good is going to come out of this soon. Yet still, I am afraid that I might not choose to right road. Fingers crossed, I rest my choice with God. He knows best.
Here’s what i wrote:
Tears fell from my eyes like the raindrops that fell from the dark cumulus clouds in the sky above me. I felt alone. I felt afraid. I stood under the rain.. I stood firmly. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see the darkness looming ahead. I stood my ground, knowing and believing that someone would come and put an umbrella above my head. I sincerely hoped that when I opened my eyes, everything would be just the way it was before.
The rain continued to wash the tears from my face. It was as if the heavens were weeping with me, offering me the comfort that I longed at that moment. But it was just me and the rain. I was alone. I was hopeless.
All of a sudden, a thunder roared in the midday sky. I was jolted from my daydreams. I didn’t realize that a storm was coming. I was so consumed with the hurt and pain I was feeling so I just ran and ran without knowing where I was going. And I ended up in the middle of the forest. If only I could undo things, but I couldn’t. If only I could take back the things I said and did, but I couldn’t. So now I suffer…
Eyes still closed, I began to realize that the rain felt good. It actually made me feel better. It comforted me. This time, I let it wash away every bit of sadness and pain in my body and soul. I opened my arms to welcome it. I offered my face to its soothing calmness. I began to hear its beautiful music bringing my heart back to life. I felt alive. More than alive… I felt rejuvenated. I knew it was time to move on.
Sometimes, we need to be alone to realize the beauty of life. Sometimes, we need to feel sad to appreciate the beauty of happiness. Sometimes, we need to feel hopeless and afraid to understand hope. In this life, storms are inevitable. If we let fear and hopelessness eat away our life, we will never see the greatness of God’s creations and plans. If we let clouds darken our view of the bright blue sky, we will never see that the sun will still and will always be there behind it. If we let the rain dampen our spirits, then we will never see the radiant colors of the rainbow when the pour is over. All we need to do is stand strong, stand firmly and believe that everything that happens in our life has a purpose.
Life is beautiful. Live it. Love it.