Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

Broken. A term that we can apply to a structure ravaged by time.

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(photo taken at Vigan, Ilocos Sur)

Or to a place ravaged by the forces of nature.

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(photo taken at Tacloban, after the typhoon Haiyan)

Or a societal state ravaged by a corrupt system, where the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer.

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Manila

Or it can even be applied to a perfect picture of opulence….

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….when we are oblivious to the sufferings of the poor just outside our deaf walls.

Broken.

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(*This post is a response to WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge on the theme, Broken.)

(**All photos taken with an iPhone.)

Gunita ni Yolanda

Isang taon na pala ang nakakaraan nang tumahak at rumagasa si Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) sa Pilipinas, lalo na sa lugar ng Tacloban. Ito ang pinakamalakas na bagyo na lumapag sa lupa sa kasaysayan ng mundo. Libo-libong mga tao ang napahamak at milyon-milyon iba pa ang naapektuhan.

Isang taon na ang nakalipas mula nang ating maging bukang bibig ang super typhoon at storm surge. Sangayon sa aking mga nakausap at nakasalamuhang mga survivors, kung naintindihan lang daw nila na ang storm surge ay parang tsunami, ay marami raw sanang tao ang lumikas sa tabi ng dagat bago humagupit ang bagyo, at marahil ay hindi ganoong karami ang mga namatay.

Isang taon na rin ang nagdaan mula nang tayo ay malagay sa spotlight sa harap ng buong mundo, matapos tayong sagasaan ng bagyong Yolanda. Lumipad sa Pilipinas si Anderson Cooper, isang kilalang CNN reporter, at doon niya inilantad ang kalunos-lunos at kaawa-awang kalagayan ng Tacloban, at kung paanong walang maagap na tulong na dumarating. Kanyang kinalampag ang mga kinaukulan at namumuno sa ating gobyerno, ngunit sa halip na tayo ay magtulungan, tayo pa ay nagbangayan. Bakit ba hindi natin maintindihan na ang bagyo ay hindi namimili ng antas ng buhay o kulay ng ating partido?

Isang taon na rin pala ang nakalipas mula nang ako’y tumungo at umapak sa Tacloban, kasama ng mga dayuhang manggagamot upang tumulong sa paglunas sa mga nasaktan at nasakuna. Isa lamang ako sa mga daan-daang mga volunteers, national at international, na tumugon sa tawag ng pangangailangan, na dumagsa at lumapag sa nasalantang siyudad ng Tacloban.

photo taken upon our arrival at Tacloban airport

photo taken upon our arrival at Tacloban airport

Makaraan ang isang taon, may pinagbago na ba sa katayuan ng mga nasalanta ni Yolanda? May kaginhawahaan na ba sila ngayon? O patuloy pa rin silang dumaranas ng paghihirap? May naging progreso ba sa mga buhay nila? O araw-araw pa rin nilang binabata ang epekto ni Yolanda hanggang sa ngayon? May mga ngiti o halakhak na kaya sila? O patuloy pa rin ang kanilang impit na hikbi at hinaing?

May saysay ba ang mga pinagpaguran ng mga taos-pusong tumulong, dayuhan man o lokal? O nauwi lang ito sa wala? May naging kabuluhan ba ang mga milyon-milyong perang donasyon na umagos mula sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo? O nauwi din lang ito sa kawalan?

Pagkalipas ng isang taon, may nagbago ba sa atin at sa ating mga pananaw? May mga leksiyon ba tayong natutunan mula kay Yolanda?

Sana naman ay mayroon.

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I woke up this morning feeling cold. I pulled up the comforter to warm me up a bit. As I opened my eyes I was greeted with snowflakes softly tapping on our windowpane. It is December after all, and in two weeks it would be Christmas.

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view from our window

Today, my wife decided to decorate our home for the season. Yes, we were a little late decorating this year. We even skipped having a Christmas tree this time. Putting up a freshly cut tree had become a tradition in our home since we moved here in Iowa.

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our fireplace

As we hung up our holiday ornaments, and with snow continuing to fall outside, it is really “beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” just like the popular song goes. That also means that I need to shovel and clear the snow in our the driveway later. Rats! Though my son was excited to go outside and build his snow fort. One man’s misery is another one’s fantasy!

However even with the “holiday cheers” in our home, for some reason I cannot get off my mind the images of a place where I was, a little more than a week ago. A place of devastation (see previous post), where Christmas is the farthest thing you think of. And another familiar song is ringing in my head – “do they know it’s Christmas time at all?”

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(image from Manila Bulletin)

As I ponder on this, I was comforted with the thought that real Christmas is not about decorations and Christmas trees. It’s not about shopping and completing our list (wives, are you listening?). It’s not even about receiving gifts or exchanging gifts (good luck telling that to your kids!).

Christmas is commemorating the coming of the Son of God to this wretched planet (wars, calamities and all), to redeem our dying world. With that thought, we all can celebrate Christmas.

Stronger than Haiyan

There are no words to fitly describe the utter devastation of what happened to some areas of the Philippines due to the super typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda).

My people are suffering, struggling to survive, and dying. And we appreciate all the foreign countries who have provided assistance in our time of need.

But we (both local and international Filipino netizens), can also help our country get back on its feet.

We are down, but not out. The Philippines is a resilient nation. Haiyan is strong, but the Filipino spirit is stronger. We are Philippine strong!
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(*flag over damaged Tacloban airport; original photo courtesy of Yahoo news)