Currently our land abounds with stories to be told. Yolanda has singly produced millions of story tellers in less than ten hours of buffeting islands in the Visayas region of the Philippines. In proportion to that I have a very meager collection of stories gathered from my friends and neighbors here in Manila to share with you. The most incredible stories have been casually told. Here have a read:
Samar: his brother received tips
Not just tips of any kind. A week after Yolanda I remembered that one of our classmates is from Samar. So the first time I saw him I asked how was his family. He said they were fine. How about food? I asked in Filipino. “Ayun nag-loot yung kuya ko,” he said smiling. So looting was rampant? “Oo basta may nagbibigay sa kanila ng tip kung saan pwede mag-loot,” he replied. That was their means of survival for the first few days before relief goods came in.
A priest who begged to be on a cargo ship bound for Manila
He lost everything during the storm. A few days before Yolanda pummeled Leyte our good priest (who got many friends in Sampaloc) was invited to give a recollection – I think to a group of young professionals. His flight was set on the day Yolanda was expected to land. In short it was cancelled. He recounted to a friend his experiences during the storm until he was out of words. But what was most indescribable of all was when morning came and people started to walk out of their houses and into the streets. It was a vision the priest could not describe. People were just walking and walking and walking. They were walking back and forth and they were looking for something they did not know what, and they were walking towards places they did not know where. All of a sudden people had nowhere to go and no one to ask directions from. Everyone was just lost. Stripped of all his possessions and no one to ask help from, the priest went to the harbor and begged to be on the first ship (any kind of ship) going to Manila.
Bohol does “not” figure out in the news concerning Yolanda. But there are islands belonging to the said province that have been whipped by the storm. As a result, residents could not cross over the main island because their boats have been washed up. One of the collectoras in our church whose parents and siblings live on one of the islands in Bohol said that for a couple of days the first and only news she got after the storm was that they lost their home; and she was left guessing afterwards. With no electricity there was no way to charge cellphones back in her province. Some days ago I asked news from her. She said that she is now able to contact her relatives from time to time. However, food is still scarce and communication remains difficult in her hometown. With that we keep in mind those places we haven’t heard of – they are in dire need of help.
Hi-jacking relief goods and raiding towns
Before the the soldiers came, armed men took charge of a certain town in Leyte. People said they were from the mountains. They were one of the first recipients of relief goods traveling by land and also the most able looters: they hi-jacked a truck carrying relief goods and raided the town. The relatives of our neighbor living in the said town said that they were forced to leave their homes in fear for their safety more than in search of food and shelter. Upon hearing this, it dawned on me how important it is to send soldiers to areas of calamities where laws are suspended. For there indeed are people who take advantage of the misfortunes of others. Now, that is evil.
An old man tied to a post
In order not to be carried by the rampaging water an old man put a colorful cord around his waist and tied himself to a post in their house. After the surge he was gone. His relatives looked for him hoping to at least find his body. When at last they found him with the cord still around his waist, they laughed.
Without doubt stories of heroic magnitude abound too; we must continue to share them that everyone may know that adversity serves only to bring about the nobility of our people.
Stories abound. We continue to pray for the victims. We continue to know their conditions. We continue to help them.
Feast, Christ the King