December 16, 2009 – I woke up with flood outside the surroundings of our house and for the first time, water entered our comfort room and June Ann’s room. That was the highest flood that happened in Ozamiz since my birth!
December 16, 2011 – I woke up with a heavy flood outside the surroundings of our house and for the first time, water entered our entire house! That was the extremely high flood that happened in Ozamiz, surpassing the highest flood exactly two years ago.
Coincidence? History repeats itself? Or signs of times? No matter what that was, my initial reaction was – furious! Blame it to the authorities! Blame it to the drainage system! I complained, I grumbled! It’s not easy to have belongings soaked in water and it is not easy to clean-up! For two whole days, me and my whole family were very busy bringing everything back to normal because I had a house party to host by Monday.
Meanwhile, I heard from the news and from the people’s discussions that Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City were greatly affected by the typhoon (I didn’t even know that a typhoon came that caused the flood in our city). I also heard that people died because of the flood but I cared less (I also didn’t know that there were plenty). Because all I wanted was to finish all the tasks for the party.
Monday morning came and our phone kept on ringing. I didn’t answer it because I was so busy in the kitchen. Timely, Papa came home when the phone rang again. It was MM who was calling. She talked to me about sending some help to the flash flood victims in Iligan for some of our fellow Jaycee members were also affected. I told her that I was busy because I had guests coming and I decided to myself that I didn’t want to be disturbed yet.
After that whole busy day, I had the time to sit down and watch the evening news on TV. That was when I saw the massive destructions the typhoon Sendong brought. It claimed hundreds of lives and millions of properties. I didn’t expect the devastation would be that immense. Then I got so guilty because the flood inside our house was just ankle-length while other people died due to it. It was so heart-breaking seeing the news and I realized that I was so selfish. So selfish because I complained, I grumbled, and I blamed. I was so bad!
Anyway, that was also the “later” time when I texted my friends in Iligan and asked them how they were doing. Luckily, nobody of them was harmed. But Cathy requested me to help through my organization, the JCI-Ozamiz Red Rose. Then I realized that I had to do something. Having lived in Iligan for almost six years, I had to give back to the city for I won’t be who I am today without it. I had to act as soon as possible so I started texting my Red Rose family. I was glad that they were already waiting for the call to help.
Moreover that night, I couldn’t sleep. I kept on thinking of the victims especially those who had lost their loved ones. Properties can be replaced but lives could never be replaced. I was so troubled and something inside of me said to have an extensive call for help. So the following early morning, I texted all people in my phonebook, posted in my Facebook status, and tweeted in Twitter the call for help. Surprisingly, help came to the store one by one that made Donations Day 1 a success!
Then our friends and relatives also extended their help! More and more help came in-cash and in-kind. I didn’t expect that in Donations Day 2, we didn’t have enough room for the relief goods already!
The support of all Ozamiznons was so overwhelming that in Donations Day 3, the store was about to burst!
Then on Day 4 of our call, we had to deliver everything to Iligan! We left Ozamiz early crammed in the van with everything that we had collected. We arrived in Iligan by 9 AM and we went straight to the JCI – Iligan Jaycees, Inc. clubhouse.
After having our breakfast, we waited for a while for the military to come. We had to ride in military vehicles and be escorted by them to Brgy. Mandulog. It is the barangay upstream the Hinaplanon River that overflows. All houses in the river banks were washed out and trees were uprooted. There were white flaglets all around and one volunteer told us that those were markers of the places wherein dead bodies were recovered. I was so saddened with the information.
When we arrived at the farthest evacuation center, I could see in the eyes of the victims their loss and pain. Then we started distributing. While doing so, I realized that what we were giving them were only small things for us but for them, they were treasures. After the distribution, one Muslim woman approached us and thanked us for what we had done. It was so heart-melting upon seeing the smile that painted her face. Then everyone of them thanked us as we bade goodbye to them.
JCI-Iligan Jaycees Inc., JCI-Dayang Dayang, and JCI-Kulintang in Action
And as we left, I realized that we, Ozamiznons were fortunate enough that only ankle-length or knee-length flooding happened to us. That we owe to Mt. Malindang which protected us and we have to take care of. AND WE ALSO OWE BIG TIME TO ALL PEOPLE WHO HAD EXTENDED THEIR HELP. I MAY NOT MENTION ALL OF YOU BUT YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Truly, the Filipino Bayanihan Spirit had lived on! Let us continually pray for Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Prayers can move mountains and it is much better to push forward through actions. For actions speak louder than words!