Thursday, June 11, 2009


Whenever we’d sing praises of Dumaguete, we almost never fail to mention how fortunate we are to have mountains shielding us against the worst of weathers. February 7 made us realize that we are not that fortunate. We didn’t even have the worst of weathers that day. News reports informed us that a low-pressure area over Eastern Mindanao had brought about the rains.

And yet last Saturday, Dumaguete and its neighboring towns were driven to their knees, its people incredulous at the sight of floodwater as it started to gather at their doorsteps. We all know by now that those waters did not merely stop there. They continued to rise as the rivers swelled. As a consequence, precious lives were lost, homes, belongings and valued livestock carried away, and the collective fallacy of Negros being a haven against nature’s fury shattered into pieces.

Although many of us were fortunate enough not to get flooded, somehow, we still felt the brunt of Banica’s ferocity. For instance, we lost our water supply for more than one day here in Batinguel. We were informed that rampaging waters busted the main supply pipe in Candau-ay. Yes, there was no escaping Saturday’s calamitous event. In some way or another, we all felt, and continue to feel, Mother Nature’s unequivocal message: we have always been and will always be at her mercy.

And yet, it is during times like these that our humanity shines at its brightest. Many a time we read about people rising above their own selves to lend help in times of disaster. Many a time we silently rejoice as we listen to stories of ordinary men doing extraordinary deeds. For who wouldn’t rejoice at shining moments that give boost to our sagging faith on the basic goodness of man?

It is no different this time. People banded together to help neighbors. Lifelines were provided and countless men, women and children made it to safety. A life was given to save a loved one. Who hasn’t heard of the heartbreaking story of the father who let go of the rope that would have dragged him to safety? He did so to save his child, losing his life in the process. We could all identity with this father. We’d do the same for our children.

A poignant image struck me in MetroPost’s issue last Sunday: that of the boy and his dog. In times of disaster, we worry about saving our loved ones and ourselves first, and only of the other family members next. It warmed my heart to see that this boy had not forgotten his pet. I worried for our 11 dogs and 6, 7, or 8 cats too. I had mental pictures of all these dears running amok in our bedroom in the second floor as I thought of the possibility of the floodwaters reaching our area.

But just at humanity had shone in this dark day, my family had a brush with man at one of his darkest. It was really an insignificant encounter, forgettable even, but thinking of that incident, I realized how that little event mirrored a sickness that ails the hearts of so many: selfishness.

As I had mentioned, we lost our water supply. Although we managed to store some, it eventually came to a point where we had no water left even for cooking rice. My husband, Nonoy, then decided to get water from a barangay artesian well located near his brother Joel’s house. After securing the necessary permission from the man in-charged of the well through my sister-in-law, Trining, he proceeded to draw water with the help of our houseboy, oftentimes stopping to give way to the residents who also came for water. They weren’t able to finish though. A woman accosted them, questioning their right to draw water in Taclobo after learning that they were from Batinguel.

Indeed, it was a small event. But against the backdrop of the disaster that had just hit our City and the need for water that became extremely urgent for some of us, this lady had effectively declared: what is ours is ours alone.

Sharing that water with anybody in this time of need would not have cost her a thing. In fact, it would have been an opportunity to lend a helping hand to anyone who had been affected by the recent flooding. And it would not have even created a dent in the underground reservoir.

Pray answer this then: isn’t that an illustration of man in one of his darkest?

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