“And we rise from the ashes”

Posted on Nov 18, 2013 in Charity

IT was about 2am. The streets were silent and the world was still. Cebu was in a deep slumber and why shouldn’t they? It was dawn. The cold air chilled the tropical island.

Amidst the silence of the streets, in Handuraw Cafe, an unlikely group of people were busy with something. Plastic wrappers fizzled as these people carried them from the second floor to the cars parked just below. It would be a surprise why anybody would be awake in this ungodly hour. But these people were determined to do something – and that is to give to the people who was struck by the devastating Typhoon Haiyan (Local: Yolanda) last November 8.

The destination? The northern most tip of the island of Cebu – Daan Bantayan.

Crammed inside different cars with the different relief goods, we slowly made our way towards the north. It was eerily quiet. We passed through different roads that took us to the north and it was more or less like a journey to silent hill. Two-hours into our journey and we passed through the areas where there had been no electricity yet. The road was dark. Pitch black.

The only source of light was our headlights and some buses passed heading towards the places we’ve been setting to go to. In a way, a hint of paranoia was with me throughout the journey. We were told that desperate people were said to have chosen in resorting to violent means in order to get something to eat and drink. It was said that they would make blockades to block people who were channeling these goods to the far-flung places of the north.

I took solace, perhaps, in the fact that I was with no ordinary people. After a few more hours, we arrived at Medellin. The sun was rising up – suddenly, the place was not that scary anymore.

The sun rose and we saw the hand prints of Haiyan. The roads were cleared; however, the surrounding areas were not as lucky. Posts fell and trees as well. I was even struck when I saw the sturdy bamboo plants being snapped into two! Even the strongest wood bowed down to the winds.

Debris littered the country side. Children stood by the roads bringing placards with the words “Help we need food and water”. Three words would summarize what I have seen there: Desperation, hunger and thirst.

As we moved and finally arrived to our destination, we find ourselves amidst people who were not able to eat properly for days. The team was greeted with sighs of praise and voices of thanksgiving: “Thank you for not forgetting about us!” remarked one elderly woman.

The volunteers quickly set-up ground rules for the distribution to ensure that everyone would be given a fair share of what was being given. The relief goods contained canned goods, two kilos of rice, some medicine, two one-liter bottles of purified water, candles, matches, and other essentials. To see faces filled with relief, filled with thankfulness and tears , these were the things that humbled us and shook us to the core.

We gave about 105 goods for this area in Daan Bantayan and we also donated for those in Kinatarkan Island, who, according to our sources, were not even given anything yet. They received 600 packs from the ABS-CBN foundation, but they needed more for the 1000+ families there. So we gave 50 to them together with the other donations.

As I end this mediation and short thought-sharing, let me share how I was struck with the entire experience personally. It was a spiritual pilgrimage to the faces of the living and suffering gods!

As we crossed half of the province of Cebu and traveled our weary bodies we saw an unfamiliar sight- a rainbow. Our faces radiated with an unexplainable aura – could it be that we were heard? Was it a sign from those above that our prayers have not gone unanswered? Whatever it was, it lifted our spirits – we affirm that we have never been forgotten, and from the ashes and the rubble, we will live once again.


PFI – Philippines Research Coordinatior