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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Super Typhoon Yolanda and Super Heroes

by Sheila F. Orcullo

Published on:
APRIL 2014 VOL. 4 NO. 1 16 PAGES

The name Yolanda will never be forgotten. It will forever be etched in my mind and soul. Yes, the super typhoon bearing the name wreaked havoc in my life and those of my fellow Bogohanons but I cannot also deny that heroes surfaced because of it.

While I was trying to be a rock to my family in the face of the storm, there were a few who left their own households to tend to the pressing needs of the people. Yes, they did it because of call of duty but still it took an enormous courage to leave their family behind just so they could attend first to the swelling panic among those constituents – panic that they themselves felt and swallowed in fear.

Take the case of the CSWD (/DSWD) personnel. Yes, it was their primary duty to provide relief assistance in the aftermath of a disaster but it was never written in their job functions and responsibilities to be caught in it with hundreds of people in a sports complex. In the attempt to feed the hungry mob, they became victims themselves. As was recounted to me, the force of the howling wind vibrated along the walls of the sports complex leaving trembling weary bodies in its wake. No matter how one tried to cover her ears to mute the thundering sound, it still penetrates and frightens. The rising fear and cries among the children and old alike prodded Amabelle Mayor, the City Social Welfare and Development Officer, to bring herself up and gather her wits together for the sake of those quaking minors and evacuees. She and her staff then distributed the food which could not sustain the hunger pangs felt which was made worse by stress and fear. They make do with whatever was available at that time given the hazard of going out of the complex to purchase food.

The distressed call of wounded evacuees can barely be heard in the noise of the thrashing roofs which left a gaping hole on the complex’ top when blown away. What was thought of as a safe haven, became a dangerous dwelling. Flying debris and fragments of broken glass caused people to run from one side of the court to another in attempt to evade the shrapnel. To unfortunate ones, the medical personnel came to the rescue. Dr. Minerva Millor, the City Health Officer, and along with her First Aid Team though shivering in cold had to administer first aid to the wounded.

As this chaos ensued and vibrated throughout the complex, City Mayor Junie Martinez tried to prop up the courage of everyone and tried to lend his presence for comfort and security. After the running frenzy around the court, he ended up inside the Comfort Room of the sports complex. This he would proudly announce to the relief good donors in the following weeks when the super typhoon finally left the country. He saw the hilarity of such a momentary weakness – a human frailty in the face of a powerful wrath of nature. By his side, Christian Kay Yurango branded the megaphone to keep order among the evacuees. His constant presence in the sports complex, which then became the disaster operation command center, giving order to the dispatching of relief goods to affected barangays under the supervision of Amabelle Mayor came at a precise moment. No one else aside from the DSWD personnel can muster enough strength and commitment to keeping an eye on the command center in behalf of the City Mayor.

As days went on and an avalanche of donations from many generous and kindhearted people from all walks of life both locally and abroad, the employees of the Bogo City government hand in hand tried to make a difference in the affected lives of fellow Bogohanons. Many went out of their own homes despite needing shelter assistance themselves just so they could help out in the repacking of tons of rice and thousands of boxes of canned goods for even distribution to the barangays.

Each one sweated out and flexed their muscles from the repacking until they were tied up neat and ready for dispatch. The men were seen to be staggering in the heavy weights of sacks of goods upon their shoulders but no word of complaint came out of their mouths. Every burden day in and day out was treated as a means of an escape from their own misery and trying to overpower its bitter taste with the goodness that these efforts bring to the desolate lives of their own people. Each day of toil and sweat in the succeeding weeks at the command center showed their will for self-sacrifice for the greater good of Bogohanons.

“Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed”, this according to Bob Riley. Particularly in trying times like this. Thank God for heroes, the big kind or the small kind, say the survivors. Somehow it feels like a bit like heroes live and walk amongst us each day, especially in trying times. My salute to them all!


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