Sunday, 15 December 2013

Reflections on Recovery

December 15, 2013.

It has been almost two months since a powerful earthquake struck fear in the hearts of many Bol-anons. It was a non-working holiday then, children were at their home with their families when the deafening sound rose up to coincide with the violent movement of the earth below. For 30 to 45 seconds, the earth shook violently in an upward to downward movement.  Then it stopped.

Cries and shouts for help could be heard across communities. In the town where my husband's relatives live, the strength of the upheaval was such that one of his nephews woke up to cement blocks lying in one corner of his bed. A niece tried to push herself in a small space inside her table just to protect herself and the baby in her womb. My in-laws have to be fetched by the barangay workers from their home.  Many houses, both old and new, from the poor, the middle class and the rich were not spared. Many decided to move and sleep outside of their homes as aftershocks continue even days after the earthquake. The San Isidro Labrador Church and many other old churches built during the Spanish colonial times were destroyed and some pulverized to the ground.

Three Kings tableu lying beneath the ruins of San Isidro Labrador Church
(Photo by Amy Muga)

Two months after the disaster,  there are still lots of things that need to be done to rebuild the homes and schools destroyed and the livelihood affected by the disaster. There are still many living in tents set outside damaged houses. While electricity has returned to poblacions and other communities, rotational brownouts still continue. A large percentage of Bohol's power supply comes from Leyte which was itself devastated after the Category 5 typhoon which struck the early morning of November 7, 2013

The fear brought about by the earthquake remains, the questions as to when the next earthquake will happen persist, as people tried to know on how to  better prepare themselves in the event an earthquake happens again in their communities. School teachers, social workers, community health workers were encouraged to participate in stress management programs. The children have returned to their schools even if these are only temporary structures.

I once heard Dr. Honey Carandang said that in the aftermath of a disaster, children heal when they play.  I see this with my nieces and nephews.  I also know that people heal when they find hope in their hearts like the Bol-anon people I was fortunate to talk to in the past few days.

I am humbled by my days in Bohol during the past days.  I felt their sense of community and their faith which is carrying them through the difficult times of rebuilding from the devastation.  I am thankful for my husband's family for sharing their homes and their selves during the past few days.

Together with kind-hearted people of San Isidro Labrador Church

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