Typhoon Sendong Aftermath and How To Help

An Aerial View of Cagayan River and Nearby Residential Areas Before and After Typhoon Sendong

This image made me feel nothing but sad. The before photo was actually taken on my birthday a year ago.

Cagayan de Oro has been one of the happiest places I’ve known and been to this year. It has been my birthday travel of sorts and it made me for than happy by exceeding my adventure expectations and unfolding culture right before my eyes.

It is utterly devastating to read and watch about the typhoon Sendong’s aftermath – continually arising death toll, homeless people, destroyed public transportation. I have been avoiding the late night news because it only shatters my heart into pieces. However, I can’t just leave it at that. I need to move my ass and start helping people the way my friends and I did during the typhoon Ondoy. I am looking forward to my week-long Christmas vacation as I can spend several days volunteering for the operations. Through these little yet significant ways, I can send help and a bit of comfort to the victims and bring back the defaced Cagayan de Oro back to Google Earth.

My friend Ian sent me this link for those who are interested in doing Volunteer work for Typhoon Sendong Relief Operations.

This is for a profound and meaningful Christmas. Let’s go!

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There’s No 22 From The Former 22

It has been a personal tradition to write down every end of November the changes that occurred to me or to the things around me at least, during the entire year. I wanted not to write about it anymore for this entry has almost done the job for me. However, the bullet list makes it shallow, so I thought of making a separate post still.

***

I felt most like a grown-up this year. I have been too critical of the things I do at work. I have come to point out what I like and despise in my to-do list. Further exposure in the Arts made me think of what more I wanted to do. However, conversations with friends expanded possibilities outside the paradigm of Arts. This then made me a little confused of what I really want in my life. I can say I am pretty young and I have a lifetime to spend, but I am not in any way planning to waste it. I may be in a pretty challenging phase regarding my career, but I’m taking baby steps to get wherever I long to be.

This has been the most and farthest places I’ve been so far. I used to have fear of unknown places but I thought of discarding such and enjoy the idea of being lost instead. There are always things and people that may serve as refuge. I learned that language is not just a mean of communication, but actually more of connection. I might have lacked the understanding of a language, but I didn’t fail to decipher man’s expression of joy and happiness.

I had rekindled heartaches and found new love. I moved from being a mean-time girl to one’s queen. I learned that forgiveness and moving on can only take place once truth and sincerity comes to surface. Also, that love comes in the weirdest of forms and in the least expected moments – when poetry was irrelevant, or when there could be, but was rather awkward. Or maybe I learned that I need not always romanticize such idea. And yes, surprisingly, there’s an alternate route to my heart.

I was a Calendar Girl, the reason why I find the Stars song a lot relevant in my life. This year however, I lost track of most days, forgot counting verticals, and chosen not to make countdowns (except for work-related matters). My heart has just been taught lessons of patience I guess, and maybe a way of catching polaroids of memories.

Dear 12-Year Old Ted,

Some ten years (and so-so months) ago, I used to be a bratty yet boyish, sheltered and secretive girl. It’s a pretty weird thing how I came up to be this big me. And since I am this big girl writing, maybe I could give the young pre-teen me a mean set of pointers.

  • Do not be pressured of getting into a Science high school or an Art school. Enrolling will neither make you an astronaut nor a National Artist. You’ll learn the basics of Science in a normal high school anyway, and art? You’d better go for that in college.
  • Do not let go of writing. Your grade school folio is only an annual publication. Do not rest your pen after the deadlines. Write at the margins of your notebook and at the clean sheet of Math scratch paper. Ask your aunties for journals as presents.
  • Appreciate your baon. Your mother will rarely do that for you in college and you’ll surely miss that.
  • Remember boys from the Honor Section. Two from which will sweep you off your feet. Thus, start drafting their records.
  • Hoard more books from the library. Read more classics so that they won’t have to interfere with your studies in the future. Don’t mind the extra charge of a new Borrower’s card, it’s just worth two days’ snack.
  • Do not be afraid of dogs. They’re one of the cutest and most adorable creatures on earth.
  • Do not fear your teachers, even the “terror” ones. They’re supposed to teach, not to traumatize. You can always tell your father about them, and he’ll show them who’s more of an RSA.
  • Take real good care of your hair. It will be the hardest to maintain when you get older.
  • Cherish every moment you spend with your father. One day, his presence will be rare. Or maybe, his voice will be just as good as his presence.
  • Earn patience now. You’ll have to use tons of it later in life.

I’d be Lying if I Tell you I Didn’t Want This to Coincide With Your Birthday

There might be an ocean of uncertainties right ahead of you, but it definitely makes beautiful sunsets and successful sails.

Today marks an event you’d never imagine would involve your life immensely. But changes do not happen overnight. That’s a fact. Reason why when I got home at the eve of your birthday hours ago, you were the same old kid (little sister) to me the past years.

***

I’d like you to peep through my microscope. This is not as technical as the usual thing, for this shows you the depths of my heart and allows unimaginable magnification of how it is to be Twenty. This is the first time, and may even be the last, I’d allow you to look through it. You may have never seen it this way but maybe one day you will.

You did not actually care what I was doing when I was twenty. All you knew was that we were sharing the same closet we had for years, we were having special dinners every weekend (because you stayed miles away from us for school), and that I occupied (and fixed) your room whenever I visit or stay in my soul’s sanctuary. All of these seemed normal to you; except for the last one which you never really mentioned to me, but I knew seemed extremely stupid to you.

You knew the reasons why I opted to do so. You witnessed the whole course. From travels, to reunions and finally that moment where all came to an end. You lacked the words able to comfort me. Instead, you pulled a string from your heart and tied the pearls and stones that were my tears. Maybe, that made you really think how stupid I was.

You knew another reason. I could call this place paradise and even replace Burnham’s bust with mine. You knew how I fell in love with the people, their way of life, the culture and it’s every little detail that I wanted unharmed (untouched even) and considered my own. I knew you understood me for this that I got you to come with me to unknown yet beautiful places.

There’s one more reason I am just uncertain of whether you have deliberated true or untrue. I was twenty when I became the epitome of “escapism”. I always tuck away the city’s noises via a five-hour trip to the mountains. That was when I read too many books (other than my school readings), written fragmented prose and poetry, and cried only for myself.

You haven’t seen it that way. You haven’t read me between the sighs and laughs we had together. But I see you, dear little sister, a lot like the person I was two years before. Although you were more of a daredevil than I was – a lot stronger, a lot experienced (you’ve got far more credits under your belt) but yes, still a lot careless. Be wary kid, take these few pointers from me, but life will teach you more. You’ve only been twenty for a few hours and there’s certainly a lot for you out there. There might be an ocean of uncertainties right ahead of you, but it definitely makes beautiful sunsets and successful sails.

I am not usually this nostalgic nor this preachy. I normally talk to you in some weird language only the two of us can understand. It sounds funny, but we are somehow already serious that way.

That, and a HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY, my little Pau.