After being home for 3 weeks from Penang, one of my former Malaysian students sent me a private message on facebook, and asked of our condition in the Philippines. He mentioned, they learned from CNN that our country was ravaged by the recent typhoon. Another Malaysian student expressed her concern about me and our family regarding the same matter. I felt blessed and thankful.
A week after Typhoon Haiyan (locally known in The Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda) struck our country and left most Filipinos in devastated state, I felt the urge to bring my feet back to the heart of Manila. I found myself with knees bent, inside the Catholic church dedicated to the patron saint of the hopeless and despaired.
Novena was uttered by the faithfuls; gospel was read and a brief homily was delivered by the priest. It almost moved me to tears, as I am grateful that my family and I, despite having difficulties, are still alive, safe, and healthy. I fervently asked for forgiveness, blessings and mercy, neither for my own sake, nor for my family alone, but more so, for those Filipinos who have been suffering from losses, physical and emotional traumas caused by the terrifying storm.
I lit 3 candles, said my prayers again and strolled my way out of the Malacanang vicinity. Barely an hour with surprisingly less traffic, I reached Malate Church via 2 jeepney rides. I went inside and talked to my Creator once more. Imagine a prodigal sinner coming home to His father. Seriously, like a battery-with-full-bars, I felt extremely recharged! So with my spirit up and hopes high, I went out of the church. And everything became lighter.
While I am one with the many who so appreciate the incredible financial contributions and generous humanitarian assistance being rendered by other nations to the Filipino people, I’m also grateful for the efforts exerted and donations given by our own countrymen.
Positive things must not end. There must be no room for negative words at this time and beyond, as it would not offer any solution but add further insult to the injuries.
Life’s challenges taught me so well to be more faithful rather than lose hope. Better to put two palms together in prayer rather than to point fingers and blame others.
“The Lord is a refuge of the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” – Psalm 9:9