“Mala-impyerno” is how my 74 year old grandfather describes the cataclysmic happening in Leyte, which as of the moment has taken atleast 3000 lives, injured 20, 000, and has affected not just millions of Filipinos, but the whole Nation itself. Super typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan as known internationally, has tested once again the resiliency and faith of a Nation that has been through thick and thin. It did not pick anyone to inflict damage on –be it the rich or the poor, the young or the aged, man or woman, the beggar or the City’s Mayor. One thing’s certain –that Yolanda has surely took the lives of many, destroyed buildings, uprooted trees and yet failed to do one thing: take away the Filipino spirit.
It must have been heartbreaking –my Lolo leaving Tanauan, Leyte and temporarily residing here in Manila, yet he does not have an idea of what has happened to the closest friends of his. Are they alive? Are they not? Probably one of the hardest questions to answer at the moment. Whenever he tells me the story, or atleast one of my relatives do, all they would say is “Andaming patay”. And it must have taken them a huge amount of strength to be able to tell the story, as though the trauma is over. My parents went to Leyte, notwithstanding the dangers they may face from the survivors fighting for food, just to get our relatives out of the typhoon-stricken place.
And the relief, the looting? What has one to say about it? The Government, or as we may refer to it as ‘The State’, has named the relief operations as one of the biggest logistical challenge there ever is –trying to reach out the relief goods to the victims of the calamity. And each day that the delivery of relief is delayed, we are slowly making this tragedy as man-made disaster. Why so? It’s because thousands have died due to the storm, the storm surge or whatsoever. But by the Grace of God, millions have survived, but because relief delivery is taking so long, people might just die out of starvation, of thirst, of them trying to fight for food, trying to preserve their life. In which we hope not. Yolanda has left. Relief has been distributed; bodies have been cleared out of the streets, and signal’s back in certain places. The Philippines is surely one step ahead of the thousands it has to take to rise up from this disaster.
I don’t talk to my Lolo that much (I’m every awkward), except upon occasions wherein I’d sit down next to him or we’d eat together. Sometimes, I want to ask him of what keeps him going, despite of the tragedy in Leyte, whom he loved, he loves, and he’ll always love. But then I figured out he’ll answer me with:
“It’s faith, apo. Faith in God.”