Thursday, October 15, 2015

Two Years Since 7.2

Today in 2013, while I was enjoying what was supposed to be a 2-hour extension to my usual 8-hour slumber, silently thanking the Muslims for affording the rest of us Filipinos another day of relaxation as they celebrated the Feast of the Sacrifice, I was awakened by a violent tremor. For nearly half a minute, right after discovering that walking or standing up was not possible, I held on to my bed post as images of the ground swallowing the house and ending my 23-year Earthly existence flashed through my mind. Thankfully, my whole family lived through the disaster and our home in the city was left intact. Others were not as fortunate. During its 34-second stint, the quake claimed homes, bridges, churches and 222 human lives, leaving some of us survivors to literally eat dust before we could begin to pick ourselves up. It has been two years since then and Bohol has largely recovered but some things may never return to the way they were. Bridges and homes have had to be demolished and rebuilt from scratch. And goodness knows you can't put coral rocks back together if they've been pulverised. A billion sacks of rice and the whites of two million chicken eggs will do us no good this time. We have all had to live with changes--some more difficult to accept than others--but at least our spirits are strong. That has been proven true. The earthquake and the subsequent Super Typhoon Haiyan, which happened less than a month later, were stark reminders of the sheer impermanence of Earthly existence and the utter futility of the identities and labels we carry around and destroy each other over. In the end, we are all just people. Yesterday, we were born; now, we live; tomorrow, we die. Whether you believe in anything beyond death, why should we say we are more important than another person when our skulls are just as easily pierced by a spade as any other man or woman walking this Earth? Why raise our sense of value over our fellow human beings'? We are all of the same substance, anyway.