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Monday, December 19, 2011

When We Least Expect It - Even On Christmas

"When they call on me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them." - Psalms 91:15

We thought Ondoy was a big blunder and the last of such scale. Then we saw all fingers directed toward government inefficiency. Those affected thought they had not been properly warned. The president in his rage sacked the Pag-asa chief for incompetence. Ondoy had claimed many lives though it poured out its wrath in daylight. But who can escape such a fury unleashed in the middle of the night the way Sendong did?

People of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities did get warned. They knew they were at the storm's path. As to the extent of the damage it had to leave, they could only predict, it was to be another storm meant to be forgotten, as oblivious as history should put it to be. Older folks had no recollection of a storm that ravaged their cities in the past, and the young were told so, as history validates, then people flirted with complacency. After Sendong had left, the lives of those lucky to make it will never be the same again.

The figures are staggering: over a thousand dead bodies piled up with debris strewn across the city, hundreds more are missing. Funeral parlors have no capacity for such a deluge of cadavers streaming their gates, not even a chance to identify the victims. The pictures are horribly graphic. Jessica Soho of GMA likened the onslaught to be that of a 'thief in the night', albeit the culprit took no accountability.

Take note of this: survivors frantically looking for their missing loved ones were advised to go to the city's dumpsite to search for their mothers, fathers, sisters,  brothers, babies and relatives. You don't believe this is happening. The sheer number of bodies recovered rendered the city incapable to bury them that they are left with no choice but  to dig a mass grave to contain the stench and a likely epidemic.

What's even incomprehensible is how human hands had actually played a role in the fate of those who had perished. Whether people still remain clueless and  have the temerity to point a finger at nature when thousands of logs and tree trunks swamped the city, is totally beyond me. Now people realize that they are paying dearly for the endless rape of our forests due to unabated illegal logging. Now, no one wants to take responsibility. How many times entire communities get wiped out and thousands of lives taken as a result of illegal logging? Even if someone gets crucified for the wrongs of many, I bet lessons will serve no purpose, as long as human greed comes in abundance.

Life always remains a mystery. When we think all is well, suddenly destruction hits. At times when we think we have security and things are going alright in our lives, tragedy comes our way. Then most of us don't know what to do when we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. We don't know where and who to turn to and how we are going to get by. But if we were offered a way to live without ever having to worry about anything ever again and it won't cost us a cent, would we jump on it? Judging by the world trend, things are  not going to get easier, they are going to get worse, especially that materialism and greed by some come before the good of many.

In facing repercussions, there will always be more at the losing end. In life, there are countless possibilities that we may face but only one thing is certain - death is forthcoming - in whatever manner, we are left clueless. It will come still, yes, even at a time when we least expect it. But no matter how much people weep for those they've lost, their lives will never be the same again, because indeed very few find the real reason for living. He is in fact the reason for Christmas.

I still wish my kababayans in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities a happy Christmas! We from Saudi Arabia may not be able to hand you a bottled water or a noodle, yet our prayers at your time of distress abound for you. Life is short but as long as we are blessed with air to breathe, there is hope, and that hope is just within your reach. In fact, He is the reason why we celebrate this season. His name is Jesus. Have a blessed Christmas!

Please click HERE if you wish to make a difference in the lives of those who survived.


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Silay City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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