Thursday, July 17, 2014

Things we can learn from a Typhoon

Photo credit: Pasig City Councilor Olly Benito
The howling winds of Typhoon Glenda (international name Rammasun) brought fears to millions of people in affected areas as it tore roofs off houses, overturned cars and ripped down electricity lines in the megacity of Manila and different provinces in the Philippines.

Many of us are still trying to move on from the onslaught of Yolanda last year and again the Filipino spirit is being tested how resilient it is, or as what we used to say these days, how water-proof it is.    

After the Glenda has passed and the electricity are restored, we tuned in to the TV and radio as heartbreaking stories of the damage of the tragedy poured in--- at least 38 deaths with dozens of people still missing  But there were also tales that make us cheer in the midst of the tragedy from time to time.  Indeed, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Humbled again by the typhoon, it will be easier for us to stand if we put in mind the lessons we can gain from the experience.   Here are some of those learning that I want to share:

1.    If there’s a will, there’s a way.  With majority of the affected cities and provinces under power outage and weak internet connection, the only means of communication to reach out with family members and friends is through phone calls and text messages. But with the brownout extending up to 12 hours and more, the batteries of our mobile phones are starting to be drained. We have one neighbor who was kind enough to have his car as a charging station for free. Others open their laptops and transform it as a source of extra battery life for other gadgets. Some who are near business establishments like coffee shops (with generators) found an instant refuge while waiting for their turns to have their phones charged.

2.    Bayanihan still lives on. I am one of the of those who were not able to sleep comfortably when the wind and rain started to heighten its strength early morning of Wednesday. We are near a creek where water can overflow any moment. Memories of Ondoy and Habagat floods started to flow into my head. Barangay volunteers are on alert mode reminding everyone to be prepared. Thumbs up to these people who instead of being in their homes with their family, they were outside clearing the streets from dismantled roofs, branches of trees and other debris.  Then a sad news came that a volunteer perished while on duty when a portion of the barangay hall of Palatiw, Pasig City collapsed. One story of an everyday hero which may not hear again. Let us offer a prayer for his soul.  

3.    Even a click of a finger can save lives.  We have to admit that being a little tech savvy these days is important if not a must.  I know some people who only learned the extent the damage of the typhoon through their news feeds on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.  They might have been one of the many victims of the typhoon if they were not aware of flooded areas.  Members of the social network sites posted updates, notes and even videos online that made a lot of people aware of places or roads to avoid during the storm.  It’s one way of reaching out to people in the fastest way possible.

4.    There is life in the midst of a tragedy.  Just like a promise of a rainbow after the rain, there is hope in every misfortune.  Not even a typhoon could stop Arnel and Grace Borja of Olongapo City from proclaiming their marriage vows. And so as couple Kiyoshi and Magdalena Nakahara. These are two pairs who defied Glenda and tie the knot with gushing winds instead of wedding bells as their background hymn. I also have a friend who gave birth to her first child in spite of fear of possible insufficient supply of power. She could have opted to reschedule the procedure but she’s all set to face everything for her baby.  

5.    It’s not only the rain we should blame.  We can’t deny the fact that we could have also contributed to the enormous damage brought by the storm.  Garbage management has always been a problem in the past and we should be aware that even those little trashes that we just throw anywhere will return to us in bulks through floods and other calamities.  Be eco-friendly and maximize the use of every material at home or at the office.  We can get some inspiration from the people who created boats out of plastic containers, truck wheel’s rubber interiors, busted air bed and other things just to cope and survive the flood.

6.    There is a thing called prayer to hang on to during desperate times.  As typhoon Glenda started to impose its might in our place, I prayed so hard for the rain to stop. I was asking for us to be spared from flood, damaged to property and life and for my 5-year old son to be calmed down by stories and toys once he wakes up. True enough, our little Charles understand that we have to be brave in times of a storm although he can’t understand (or should I say, would not understand) why we can turn on the lights and watch TV during blackouts.  Reminds me of a mother being interviewed on TV in an evacuation area.  She said (in tagalong), “We almost gave up because we really thought that no one can save us and we will all drown to death.  Then my daughter told us to pray and papa Jesus will save us.” 

7.    When you’re down, there’s no way to go but up.  A few years ago, tragedy struck our family.  Within the last quarter of 2007, we lost my first child Monique and younger brother Jimmy in two separate unfortunate incidents.  There was no devastating flood nor heavy rains but it felt like I was drowning.  Through the help of our friends, in their own little way, my family is learning to move on.  My family can cope living in a drenched house. We have survived the floods brought by Ondoy and  Habagat.   No, we’re not down because we’ve just been there and together we will all stand up to continue this journey called life.     

We all have our own lesson from a typhoon to tell.  Whether it’s a near-death experience, an unforgettable moment or a sad story, we should always remember that it is not only misery that we get from a tragedy.  Every obstacle in the roads we take can make us a better and stronger person.  We just have to stand firm and be wise with all the things we learn during a typhoon.

1 comment:

Amanda Joson said...

I do believe that there's a reason for everything. In our case, it is to be prepared. Storms and typhoons our constant visitors, and to prevent or minimize its devastating effect, being prepared should be on top of our list. Aside from making our properties storm-proof. Getting a comprehensive insurance for your property can be of help.

Amanda @ MAPFRE Insular