A plea for help

by Florence Hibionada/ PNS

For us who were spared by the wrath and fury of Typhoon Frank, each new day means yet another chance and opportunity to go about with our usual schedules. Then at the end of that day, we and our loved ones go back to the confines of our homes, eat at the dinner table and sleep on a clean bed.

For the families of over 200 dead Ilonggos and thousands of survivors whose homes were totally damaged, lives shattered and future uncertain, each new day is now a grim reminder. With mud up to 3 feet deep inside the family home, the destruction continues to leave that stench of death, literally and figuratively- speaking.

So this plea for help on anything that you can spare. Old blanket. Old shirt. Old silverware. Old books. Help us help rebuild lives and help us help restore faith on the human spirit.

On a personal note, please hear the plea of Dominador Evangelista Sr. of Barangay Esperanza, Januiay, Iloilo.

I have spent a few minutes with the family and never in my 20 years of media work that I felt ‘dwarfed’ by the decency and love-for-family that they had for each other. Never in my 20 years of endless stories of government graft and corruption, crimes and criminalities, success and sob stories, men’s discoveries and failures, that I finally found one that I felt deserves more than just a story. It needs to be told and retold beyond the pages of my newspaper. It deserves a resolution, or an answer at least in the form of a ‘wish granted.’

Dominador Sr. is only 57 yet he looked at least 70 in physical appearance apparently wrinkled by the toils of poverty. His wife Nelly is 54 with whom he has eight children.

The family’s hut was among those forcefully swept by the Suage River in Januiay, Iloilo. Three of the Evangelista children survived hours floating in the deadly river. Each was reached to tell their harrowing story. I ended up writing more about their father.

I would never forget the pain in Dominador Sr.’s face when he heard the full account of his children’s ordeal. I wanted to cut the interview short. I felt I was already becoming a human being first then journalist second. No father, how poor, deserves to be pained by the experience of his children. A journalist, no matter how hardened, must know when to stop asking.

But the three went on, taking turns to describe how cold the water was. How much it hurt to be endlessly hit by floating debris. Irene said she wanted to live for her parents. Her exact words was that she prayed that God have mercy on her and bring her back to her parents.

Dindo, the eldest son did not want to let go of Irene’s hands reason why he was also swept to the raging river. In the end, his grip failed and he said he blamed himself for not doing more to save his siblings.

All these I did not have to write. It was embedded in my memory and I write this now as I recall it.

Dominador Sr. would later tell me in tears, “Maam, sakit gid buot ko sa inagyan sang kabataan ko. Naluoy gid ako sa ila Maam (I am deeply pained with what my children had to go through. I pity them so much).”

Yet he was also quick to console himself saying what is important is that his family is complete.

I could not resist to ask what material thing he most want to have again, that very one thing he needs to start rebuild their lives.

Dominador Sr. said he will start looking for carpentry tools adding proudly how three of his children are in college because of his carpentry skill. He never asked that I give it to him or that he’d ask government for it. He sounded determined to look for it himself.

At least I know where to start in the resolution that I wanted in my story.

What has this calamity taught me? That life is precious. And it is important to care. It is rewarding to act.

We have comprehensive coverage on our news site, www.thenewstoday.info. If there are no material things to spare, spare the most important one – prayer for the families devastated and changed by Typhoon Frank and all other calamities elsewhere in the country and the world.