It has been a month since that morning when I woke up with the sun peeking from the clouds. It rained continuously the days before that. And the night before was no different. Rain poured and strong winds howled. I was asleep for I loved to curl up with rain battering on the rooftops. But that was a month passed, when rain has been a comfort for me and, maybe, to some people too —- things are different now.
Tropical storm Sendong (Washi) struck Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City. On the night of December 16, 2011, its strongest at around 11P.M. – 1 A.M. the following day, when everyone was asleep and innocent of such danger. Typhoons are never an occurrence in Iligan City as it is naturally barricaded with mountain ranges — or so what Iliganons thought. There’s always a first in everything.
TS Sendong was the first typhoon that hit Iligan City, and it took more than what anyone could have imagined — residences, establishments, public infrastructures, took away and rob people of the lives they used to have. By the morning of December 17, 2011, the sun shined on a blue sky at the devastated Iligan City.
It took me a month to actually blog about what happened in full confidence that I will be able to finish and publish it. It has been hard to write about the destruction of Iligan when Pinay Travelista was inspired by the roads and adventures of this city. I have more than a few drafts about the Sendong but it was too depressing to have it published. Gwapito did say that, “not all blog posts are happy posts”, and that it is okay even if it was and is depressing. But I could not find it in me to inject depression on people who already feels distress over the matter. All I could do was to continue on through the campaign ran by Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc that started at the very same day a month ago. One For Iligan started as out as a call for One Dollar for the Victims of Sendong in Iligan City. Social media and networking proved to be undauntingly supportive, after all this is their bread and butter — and it did not fail.
The outpouring of support and overwhelming donations came in — sharing it was task not to be toyed with. It was like having an army at your back eagerly helping you out. Volunteerism spread like wild fire. People who had the time offered their days to help distribute the donations and services to affected areas and evacuation centers. Local Government Units, Non-Government Organizations, groups, and families sacrificed their comforts to help and share what little to the generous resources that they could share for the victims of Sendong in their own respective ways. Care and concern for others well being is emanated through heroic, selfless, and backbreaking acts.
Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc. received a call for donations for affected areas that were still not accessible by land. In the hinterlands of Brgy. Rogongon, relief operations were flown and delivered to the area via the Philippine Air Force UH -1H (Super Huey) Military Transport Helicopter. The aerial view we had of the hinterlands showed why the massive uprooted trees and amount of soil was coursed through the Mandulog River that caused destruction on the highly residential low areas of Iligan City. It was as if a giant had unleashed his anger and scratched on the faces of the mountain sides – tearing trees, grasses, and soil off of it.
Checking parts of Mandulog River from an aerial view was scary. The widened river glistened from above, not from white waters but from gravel of the river bed now exposed and bared, without its’ topsoil. The contours would show how strong the current was and how massive the volume of water plus soil and debris was carried downstream during that fateful eve. Iligan City was and is scarred by TS Sendong and it will take a while to get back on normalcy.
With the threat of rain, we headed back to the camp. I was the only passenger seated on the floor with no seat belt on in the open chopper. The other male passenger asked if I had flown in such before, I answered “No, this trip is my first time to do so”. I guess he could tell that I was enjoying the ride — for I was the eager-to-fly passenger, shutterbugging (taking photos) to my hearts content. But I actually was scared and a bit heart broken — not for the flight but because of what I just saw during the experience. But the smiles you get from the people you extended help, encouraging nods from other volunteering groups and organizations and from the pats on the back from the people who supported you is worth it all.
I see hopeful faces who will remember this grey period of Iligan. They will know the extent of loss and pains everyone will and has gone through to move on and get back on their lives. It has only been a month and my hopes are up on the scales. It may never be the same in my hometown and in the lives of those who lost loved ones and the lives that they are now rebuilding. Iligan City, yes a bit bruised, and scarred by Sendong but will rise above it all.
Bangon Iligan! Sidlak Iligan!
“The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.