It's been more than a year since my last post, since Yolanda. And oh my, what a year it has been.
Our city's been through a lot — we were hit by the world's strongest typhoon, people and houses were washed out by the storm surge, looters ransacked what was left of those houses and groceries. Everybody felt despair, I'm sure of it. For I felt it, too.
We were among the lucky ones who were able to leave for Manila earlier, where we stayed for three weeks. During those weeks, I felt nothing but helplessness, hopelessness, and homesickness. It felt like nothing will ever be right again.
My Dad and I came home to Tacloban during the last week of November, and my Mom followed a couple of weeks later. But even the thought of being home didn't erase the hopelessness that was coursing through me.
But God never forsakes His people. During those dark days, my faith was the only thing I could cling to. So when it was announced that the Pope is sending his Papal Nuncio to spend Christmas with the Taclobanons, I felt something stir inside me.
I woke up early on Christmas Day, and braved the throngs of people at Sto. Niño Church. My Mom and I found a seat at the center aisle, about four rows from the front. The bench was wet, and the roof was gone so rainwater was dripping on us and our butts were wet and freezing from the rainwater that pooled on the bench but we didn't care. We had a great view of the podium, and we were excited and privileged to be hearing mass from a representative of the Vatican.
When the Papal Nuncio came down the aisle, everybody looked in his direction. It was purely by chance, but as I was openly staring at him, he looked at me and smiled. It was in that moment when, more than a month after Yolanda, I finally felt peace. And hope. That better days and better things are coming.
So I focused on my family, on friends, and on work. Days turned to months, months turned to a year.. And Yolanda became nothing more than a part of our history.
During the past year, I finally found the courage to quit my job. My friend and I opened up a nail spa, and while it took everything we had to build a business together, we are very much determined to make it work. It's only been two months, so we shall have to see how far we can go.
Life's funny that way. Sometimes it throws us challenges and hurdles (and Yolanda was definitely a really big hurdle that took lives and destroyed houses and businesses, but just a hurdle nonetheless), but it doesn't throw us something we cannot handle.
Yes, it was a big tragedy. But we Filipinos rose from the destruction and proved once again to the world that we are a strong resilient breed. That we are able to smile and laugh even in the midst of tragedy, and that we are strong enough to build back the lives that we once had.
And that.. That makes me real proud to be Filipino.