7.2, A Year Ago

1:05 PM

I was up really early that day.  It was the scheduled evaluation of The WORD for the first semester.  I was running late already.  We were supposed to be at the venue, Arabelle Suites, by 8:30am but I was still at the waiting shed, hoping to get a ride as soon as possible.  That was around eight in the morning already.  I was with an old woman and her granddaughter.  Young boys were also playing basketball at the basketball court behind the shed.  Only a barbed wire fence separating us from the kids.

Then all of a sudden there was shaking.  I thought it was the kids hitting the fence with a ball until the old woman beside me shouted "Linog!" ("Earthquake!").  People went hysterical. I saw houses moving, a Southern Star bus about to block the road, people going out of their houses.  I was there sitting under the waiting shed after I checked if it was safe --- no electric cords above or anything that might fall under me --- and stayed calm.  I was trying to stay cool.  The entire Bohol was not.

My neighbors during the quake.  It was sundown and we have decided to spend the night uphill.

I thought it was just that, an earthquake. Nothing serious happened.  After all, I was, together with my family and the rest of the neighborhood in a more elevated area in the barangay.  There was a tsunami scare and everyone, instantaneously went uphill when it was said that the sea receded.  We stayed there until the next sunrise.  I hoped that all things were fine.  Until I saw on television everything that happened.

Taken during a stopover in Clarin during the relief operations organized by my Society of College Seniors friends.
This is what the St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church looked like after the earthquake.
The facade is the only thing left standing.

Two or three days after the earthquake (I'm not even sure myself), I participated in some relief efforts.  In one of my adventures, I saw the damages.  We were heading towards one barangay in Sagbayan and along the way, the sights made my heart broken.  In the face of people was despair.  Relief efforts felt like The Hunger Games.  They need to survive.  

The town proper in Sagbayan was filled with evacuees taking shelter and as well looking for food and water.
Inside the church in Catigbian (if I'm correct).

But the best thing about the entire tragedy is how we Boholanos were able to showcase our strength and resilience.  We were one small island province united in order to help one another.  We chipped in what we can offer --- manpower, finance, creativity, transportation.  We helped one another to rise from the crumbles left by the earthquake.  

Many teens were quick in responding to the call of help by Boholanos after the quake.
These are the young volunteers during the relief operations at the St. Joseph Cathedral.

My good friend Loche helping pack some relief goods at the St. Joseph Cathedral.

Every help we received was always returned by a thank you, from simple words of gratitude, to the sweet smile of relief and hope, to forming all relief goods to spell a thank you to thank those who are dropping the food packs from a helicopter. 

And when Tacloban was ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda, we, despite being in a midst of a tragedy as well, took part in helping our neighbors.  We donated clothes, food, and money, even if we also need them. 

While we were in travelling to Sagbayan, we saw these kinds who are asking for help.  We stopped the Elf Truck
we were riding and gave them some relief goods.

The world saw Bohol's structures fall down, especially our churches that have withstood time.  But despite these, the Boholano spirit was never dampen.  It shined brighter than any star in the universe.  The world saw that Bohol was not just a place filled with beautiful landscapes but also a place inhabited by many beautiful, strong, resilient people whose faith, generosity, and warmth will never be shaken.

I often joke some friends as to how the earthquake turned our Chocolate Hills into White Chocolate Hills.

Today we commemorate the year that it has been.  We commemorate our loss.  We remember the lives that were taken by the quake and all the properties it destroyed, including the churches that we have taken pride for its important role in our history and heritage.  But today, at least for me, is not just a mere commemoration.  It is a celebration.  I wish to celebrate the beauty of my fellow Boholano people and our triumph in conquering the difficulties left by the earthquake.  We celebrate the kindness extended to us by different people and institutions. We celebrate life, itself.

Taken during an outreach activity organized by the Student Catholic Action Alumni Association of
Holy Name University in Canmaya Sentro, Sagbayan.  The kids in the left were holding paper that spelled
CHRISTMAS.  The day was filled with smiles and laughter and I was filled with delight that in one way,
I became an instrument of bringing hope.

The rain is pouring heavily today.  And I know, despite the rain, the Oktubre Kinse activities will push through. 

No amount of rainfall can dampen our spirits!


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DEEJAY WRITES is a proudly Boholano lifestyle and travel blog by LifestyleBohol in-house writer Deejay Arro. Launched in June 2014, DEEJAY WRITES ranks among the Top 200 Entertainment and Lifestyle blogs in the country and has been consistently receiving positive feedback from readers..