The Worst of Lawin

We all had it coming.

The weather was forecasted signal number five and dubbed Lawin as the strongest typhoon in Cagayan history.
We are not strangers to strong storms & floods, since we were born in this valley we have experienced the amazing constance of Mother Nature's devastating power over us mere mortals.
I remember as a child, a typhoon that flooded the towns in between the city & my hometown.
Buses cannot pass through the high waters reaching up high to the house roofs, people were stranded on the street with their lifelong belongings and when the water subsided, they picked ourselves up & got on with their lives as normally as they can.
We put their living room in order, clean up their kitchens of the grime & mud from the flood water, and put themselves to sleep in the same bed as though nothing has happened.
That's how resilient we are with storms.
When typhoon Lawin came, we weren't just flooded. We weren't victimized by the same criminal for the past decades, this was something else.
We were warned. And yet still we were rendered helpless by the outrageous might of the storm.
Regardless, we were ready.
How glad we should feel that there were almost zero casualties in the entire valley, the death count never rose up to more than four, and may I give my condolences to those whose loved ones perished in the storm but let me also state that we should be glad.
Yes, we should be fucking glad that we were so ready for the devastation, we didn't have to mourn hundreds of lives because we were so ready that only properties were destroyed.
Who knew that being ready was a fucking blockage to the help that was supposed to come to us?
Who knew that the announced intensity of the storm, the estimated amount of damage it has caused, the one-digit number of fatality, in effect, rendered us even more helpless & alone?
It was said that Lawin was so much stronger than Yolanda, she just happened to have caused a storm surge right in the seaside town of Tacloban that killed thousands of people.
Their casualties are monstrous, our casualties is but a dwarf.
That, however, does not merit that we receive less than we deserve.
Our lives changed the night of the typhoon's landfall, its winds blew away the roofs of our houses, uprooted large trees from the soil they lived on for years, not a single leaf was left untouched, everything looked as if The Avengers & the Justice League had a battle all over the place, and during those hours we were all in the same eye of the storm, in the same atmosphere, in the same situation. That moment we were all equal.
But the ransacking of Mother Nature was not the worst of what Lawin could bring.
It was the aftermath that uprooted the nature of man's prejudiced perception of what a place should look like, should be like in order to receive help.
When France was bombed, many of us changed our profile photos with that in sympathy of the country. We posted #PrayforParis all over social media & wrote long sympathizing messages to show how affected we are with the incident.
Just how affected are you in this one?
Billions' worth of property destroyed, livelihoods practically annihalated, normalcy was nowhere out of sight.
Normal was a house with no roof, a house literally broken apart.
Normal was a street blocked with collapsed electricity posts.
Normal was no water, no power, no food, clothes wet & torn.
Normal was cold.
Normal was sharing a shelter with other hundreds of people.
Normal was a bridge snapped in half with no other way but to cross the raging river just to get to the other side. Normal was disaster.
And yet it wasn't enough.
They saw the number of survivors & applauded us for having prevented a bigger tragedy.
But they also saw that the lack of tragedy meant that we don't need more help than we should get, that we don't have evacuees who lost their homes & livelihood & no longer have anywhere to run to, that we did not lose so much in comparison to other tragedies where lives were lost.
We don't need your applause, we need your hands to reach out and help us.
Once, I overheard someone say that they wish more people had died in the typhoon so the country & its social influences would pay more attention to us with the hashtag KAYA NATIN 'TO CAGAYAN spread all over the place.
That there is the real tragedy.

This poem is about: 
My community
My country
Our world


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