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Feature: Reality check

by Tam Jewel Tibaldo

Baguio City (15 October) -- It was the 26th of September, a Saturday night and I was out with friends. We went to a benefit concert for the late Sir Emmett Asuncion. I knew there was a typhoon and that it had already been flagged Signal No. 2. The winds were blowing strong but hardly any rains at all, only mist covering the night sky. I came home at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, slept and got out of bed at around 11.

When I opened the television, it was like déjà vu – I felt same feeling as when I turned on the television the morning of Michael Jackson and Pres. Aquino's passing away. Only this time, it wasn't the death personalities on the news but the lives (and homes) of so many of our Filipino brothers and sisters being torn apart. I felt rather guilty. I had woken up not knowing what was going on with the world around me, my own country even.

We've seen and heard on the news how the entire nation was just devastated. We have witnessed how every Filipino mourned during these trying times. Filipinos cried out for help so loudly their fellowmen reached out in a heartbeat. I'd like to think, most importantly was how we were all united by this event. Heartbreaking as it was to have may eyes open to those homes being shattered, towns being flooded and lives being washed away, I had to see. I had to see as to be aware. I had to be aware because I needed to understand. And I needed to understand so that I could [we all could] appreciate.

It's beyond doubt that everywhere we look these days, there seem to be hurdles and troubles. Our world has turned into one big roller coaster in so many ways. Prices are up, everybody's down, temperature's rising and rains keep falling. And although we feel hopeful, there are days when our spirits sink.

We feel our lives are turning out to be one hell of a ride. I believe we should turn our focus away from that wild ride, from that unforgettable nightmare and on to the small things in our life that add up to lots of joy and happiness. There are many ways to find that joy, happiness, peace and comfort in your life – absolutely free, no charge. The truth is, there are billions of treasures out there that cost nothing, and they enrich our lives in countless ways possible.

Only when we notice and embrace the simple and small things in front of us are we able to feel like a million bucks. Lives were lost, but have we seen that it is also life that was given? Sometimes, we fail to see what we should be seeing. God did not send the storm to punish us. God wants us to unite. Perhaps what God had in mind was to bind us all together. Perhaps He wants us to see eye-to-eye just this once and chose the worst of times as the best time to make us realize. He released the heaviest rains and sent the most furious winds for us to listen, not to the torment outside our physical bodies but to that lovely voice inside our hearts that's been screaming goodness all along.

Having witnessed the wrath of Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng, I've been more thankful and appreciative. I hope we all have. I am thankful that people still believe in the power of prayer. I went to church October 11th and the Baguio Cathedral grounds were filled with men and women, young and old. I only wish it doesn't start and end that Sunday afternoon, I hope it stays that way all Sunday afternoons.

I am thankful for the noble rescuers, mediamen and concerned citizens who helped make the difference in these tragic event. They literally crossed borders to extend their assistance to those in need. I went to Little Kibungan, and right before my teary eyes, I was astounded by dismay and great courage at the same time. I have become more appreciative of all the things my eyes are able to gaze at – this upland filled with rich fauna, this haven full of wonderful people.

I don't know why but I've also become more appreciative of the efforts of those that others fail to recognize. I appreciate the DPWH workers who work double time to remove the boulders in the nation's main roads. Others may complain, but most don't even know how hard the job is they're doing especially with the deadlines they are being given. Least we could do is let them know someone appreciates their efforts.

Oprah Winfrey said of her show, "this is my effort to do the best I can to help you…" and then I thought, "What is my effort? What is your effort? What are our efforts? Are we even doing something to make that difference, even the simplest difference in another's life?"

Our efforts need not be grandiose; it only needs to come from the heart. God is knocking at our doors. People! We need to check our lives. The recent typhoon strike was the best time for that much – needed reality check. We need to love this nation as much as we love ourselves. The rise and fall of this nation lies in our hands. We have to appreciate every God-given day. We have to appreciate every ounce of breath we have.

Every day, every now, every tomorrow, every breath is life – life that means we are still given the chance to make something out of ourselves. We have to appreciate our families, our friends, our neighbors. We have to appreciate every other person apart from our self. They say, ‘you must first love yourself before you can love somebody else.' Well, I think we've loved ourselves too much already that now is the most excellent time to open our hearts to other people. We need to reach out and make every beat worth every pump of our hearts. There's still time. We have to appreciate the world we have.

This world we call earth, it's our home and it's the only one. We couldn't wait for the time scientists conclude man could live in Mars or the time engineers are able to make rockets that could send an entire population there. By that time we'd all be dead, those scientists and engineers would also be dead. Research and study take years, perhaps even decades. The only time we have is now. Nothing has to be complicated. They keys to a better world are simple. Plant trees. Conserve water. Don't litter. Love your neighbor. THINK WISELY. It's that easy! (PIA) [top]

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