Five years ago, Supertyphoon “Yolanda” drowned my hometown. The Tacloban City I grew up in was gone.
I remember the news on the night of Nov. 8, 2013: Tacloban was flattened to the ground by the storm surge.
I remember asking, “What in the world is a storm surge?”
I remember the gut-wrenching fear and the numbing panic when I got the answer.
I remember the list of survivors and casualties; the names of our family members. Houses were damaged, cars gone.
But what pained us the most was the loss of four loved ones — Lola Catalina “Lily” Buagas Colinares, Tita Aurea Nicolas Tan, Tita Novelita Reglo, and my cousin Mayo Colinares.
Five years have gone by, but the pain of losing loved ones so suddenly still haunts us, most especially since two of our family members remain missing.
During that time of suffering, I remember wishing for a manual, a “Moving on for Dummies” book in yellow and black to outline the steps in getting over a typhoon devastation, with subparagraphs on “Losing Properties” and “Losing Loved Ones.”
I wanted it to be easy, because that time, everything was hard. It was difficult seeing my parents struggle with their own grief.
Daddy Bong lost his mother, while Mommy An lost her closest sister; they both also lost properties they had worked hard for to make our lives comfortable.
When something so overwhelming happens to a person, one would ask, “Why, God?” How do we move on from the damage and destruction caused by Yolanda? How do we heal that gash in our souls, pried open by that supertyphoon?
Little did I know that the last time the family was with Lola Lily, on Nov. 2, 2013, she already gave us the Bible verse to cling to during those trying times.
Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
At the risk of sounding preachy, I just want to share this. We may not know why this calamity happened to us, we may not know why everything was taken away from some, why good people have to die, why our land was ravished by the water — and with this ignorance and this darkness we tend to act out, regress and go downhill.
But, really, we must not. It is easier to succumb to the darkness rather than climb toward the light, but fighting toward the light will surely bring forth freedom from the pain and suffering, and give us strength and, ultimately, hope.
In remembering Yolanda, I remember the lessons learned from that experience: to fight to overcome the sadness with gladness and thanksgiving to Him for all that was left, all who survived, and all that was given afterward. And if the going gets tough and we fall, let us fall forward toward the light, and not away from it.
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Ma. Lourdes “Mari” N. Colinares, 28, is a lawyer at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
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