The wake of a typhoon in the Philippines can leave many sleeping in places they never dreamt of. Oftentimes, the scenario that unveils is inconvenient to even see. Sometimes however, the scene becomes set for dreaming.
Perhaps it was the shattering duet of Nesat’s relentless rains and rebellious winds of up to 150 kilometers per hour that twisted my fate and left me homeless on such an unforgivable evening. Still, it has proven that in the darkest and loudest of storms, Someone hears the most silent of prayers and shines the brightest of lights.
It was the eve of September 27, the day that Typhoon Nesat started to pound Philippine ground. I braved going to Manila for an appointment the next morning that was as formidable as the storm.
I ideally intended to stay at a motel near our meeting place. But as it turned out, I didn’t have enough money to do so. I’m a fellow who is used to traveling with a meager amount of cash in hand, for thanks to technology, one electronic card usually performs the many tasks of money — in a world of permanence. In this world, the terrors of catastrophes can also rock the digital world, and everything connected to it.
Story short, I ended up technologically-handicapped to access the funds from my bank, with only enough money to get me back home the next day, and an umbrella as roof for my head. But it’s not that I had nowhere to go. It’s just that, I didn’t know if I should go there.
It just so happened that I was near the only free transient home in the country, if my knowledge serves me right. It’s the Kamanggagawa Transient Home near its media partner UNTV along EDSA. It was put up by Kuya Daniel Razon and Bro. Eli Soriano for indigents and victims of cruelty and abuse as temporary shelter where social workers can see their cases for further assistance.
I have blogged about it in the past and about the other exemplary humanitarian efforts by the ‘Didactic Duo of Philippine Philanthropy.’ But never did I think that the day (or night) would come that I would actually be there.
When I arrived, I was just in time for the nightly community prayer, hosted by the Members Church of God International or MCGI. I’m glad that they have that service there. Storm or no storm, they regularly establish a steady line of communication with God. And at that point in time, I was just really thankful for the opportunity to talk to my Creator.
I felt really comforted afterwards. However, as everybody’s eyes soon opened, I knew that they would be seeing something quite amiss — me — which is why I hesitated going there.
Of the many people around me, I was the only one with a cap and a jacket, and didn’t look like someone who really needed help. I wondered then if I looked like somebody who was just taking a greedy advantage of the transient home’s free services. I don’t know.
Nevertheless, I was humbled and honored with smiles by both the staff and my fellow transients. There were puzzled looks of course, but they were undoubtedly kind — just the kind of warmth any soul yearned for and needed on such a frigid night.
A few minutes passed and I was at the desk of a social worker who looked into my case. After telling her my tale of technological fail, she happily delivered me to one of the staff who gave me a clean bed sheet and kept my belongings.
I could see there people in slippers and shorts. Most were old people. Some were families with infants. Some were teens and children. All were refugees from the wet and windy world outside.
I finally got in bed, Bunk 13 to be exact. But I could’t really feel any luckier. I lay facing a window near me. I could hear the wind, see the rain, feel the darkness outside: a world made distant by the smiles, giggles, and timid laughter of the people inside. I actually had a few smiles myself after seeing gaped mouths, venting stress and weariness away, sleeping in pleasant care and comfort.
I woke up early, an hour or two before anyone else did. I woke up the baggage counter guy sleeping on a table to get my stuff. With a slight tap on his shoulder, he stood up and asked me where my things were — no grunts whatsoever.
After taking a shower, I finished preparing myself for travel by the baggage counter. I was almost through gearing up when a tiny old lady came to me and asked me what time Kuya’s Clinic — a clinic at UNTV that provides various dental and medical services and medicines for free — will open. I told her that it runs from 4 a.m. daily. She said that she was going to get a checkup and was waiting for her friend to take her there.
I finally put on my jacket and cap, and opened my umbrella. As I passed through the front door, I stopped to thank the only person I could give thanks to, the security guard on duty. It was really the least thing I could do — until now.
To all the staff and transients who helped me, thank you so much. To Bro. Eli and Kuya Daniel, thank you for putting and keeping up a home where anyone — regardless of race or religion — can make it through the rain and weather out any storm that life here may bring. I may not be able to sing this song, but this is for you.
I Made It Through the Rain
We dreamers have our ways
Of facing rainy days
And somehow we survive
We keep the feelings warm
Protect them from the storm
Until our time arrives
Then one day the sun appears
And we come shining through those lonely years
I made it through the rain
I kept my world protected
I made it through the rain
I kept my point of view
I made it through the rain
And found myself respected
By the others who
Got rained on too
And made it through
When friends are hard to find
And life seems so unkind
Sometimes you feel so afraid
Just aim beyond the clouds
And rise above the crowds
And start your own parade
‘Cause when I chased my fears away
That’s when I knew that I could finally say
I really like Kuya Daniel’s version of this song. More power and health!