ON THIS DAY A YEAR AGO…

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Photo: Credit to Mark Florence Igana

It all began on November 8. The killer typhoon’s landfall lambasted the Philippines without exemptions. Still quite unthinkable remembering the gravity of destruction which took many lives, that is. Who would have known this would be such catastrophe. Millions were affected. Thousands perished and died, shocked and traumatized, left homeless, thirst and starved. Indeed, many hopes and dreams were shattered and fall apart. Crush by that fated ramifications. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) claiming the lives of thousand many marked history as the strongest typhoon ever struck the Philippines. That, she left behind stories of great struggle of near-deaths, sorrows, pains and miseries that etched forever in our hearts and minds.

After a year of the tragedy, it is quite depressing to hear and see on the news that many victims are still in difficulties. Survivors are highly protesting of being unheard, claiming to have been unaided poorly of the assistance they needed. Still, crying out for help of wanting to end their agonies. Appealing to their calls seeking relief to end their sufferings of being felt neglected and left displaced after a long year of struggle living and surviving.

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Photo: Credit to Mark Florence Igana

The world felt the grieving of our country. All allied nations unconditionally extended their pledges and assistance in whatever forms. Both local and international volunteers came to aid helping the wounded. Continuously gave relief, support and assistance to those most in need. The aid was extremely overwhelming which gave hope to the weeping victims and despaired survivors. We were overloaded with kindness from every corners of the earth.

Irene, Brian, and PeeJay
Irene, Brian, and PeeJay

My good friends Irene, Brian, PeeJay and I were able to witness the typhoon’s aftermath while we volunteered on a medical mission in a local town, Albuera that was also struck by the mishap. It’s thanks to the efforts, donations and financial assistance of Marichel Igana and Bellou Oclarit-Erazo all the way from Belgium who took the initiative of ”helping their fellow Filipino ‘kababayans’.

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Marichel and Bellou

Our own government’s utterly claiming to have “admirably responded” the aftermath on the first “sixty days” of the calamity (Mar Roxas, DILG 2014). Question: What about the next “three-hundred-sixty-five- days?”

As much as I want to state the obvious, I give to them the “benefit of the doubt“. The officials and authorities, the one responsible on to its efforts, are (still) clouded with questions and doubts. Whatever controversies they are into until to this day, our faith and confidence remained so as long they respond to the calls of those supposed victims and survivors whom patiently waiting for help and longing to ease-a-little on their sufferings from the great misfortune brought by Haiyan (Yolanda). As for Albuera and its townspeople, our deep and fervent prayer continues to reclaim once more the glorious days in your town you hold once honorably.

Photo: Credit to Mark Florence Igana
Photo: Credit to Mark Florence Igana

We are always students in life. We exist once, however we live every day and aim to survive learning our existence and true purpose. There are storms in life that sometimes shake our midst. We face trials and challenges day to day, night and day. Somehow, sudden fate changes the course of our life that we never foreseen. Such it happened to our fellows and ‘that’ those known survivors have once known what prodigious defeat, sufferings and struggles are all about. Have known great loss and pain, and they have found a deeper hope dwelling to its way out of the depths and move forward. Who could ever forget “on this day a year ago.”

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Albuera Town Hall, Leyte
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OUR DAILY CENTS

“Every centavo counts” as economist would basically say. But rather I vividly remember these words coming from a very straightforward yet soft and gentle reverend who was once a parish priest of one humble church back then in my birth town. When it comes to the parish’s financial details, be it simple or complex, he’s one furiously I reckoned with on it. One centavo difference or unexplained deficit on your suppose thorough list of financial statement is a taboo. So just make reservations. Expect to be scolded. Believe me, when it comes to money expenditures, he’s too judicious. Most of the time, too inconsiderate and uncompromising but that is, if you fail to justify the missing single cent. He’s no economist or either an accountant. For two simple reasons:  First, “Honesty” is his ultimate policy and second “Transparency” is foremost obligatory. He isn’t acting stingy or cheeseparing either. That’s how he is… He’s learned it from his mother of how important single centavo indeed during his younger days. For money is earned with blood and sweet. Should one single drop of cent is much of its worth. That’s a great learning coming from a humble man.

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But in an ordinary days, these coins seem appear treated so very least than much of its face value. More likely you see them lying on streets and corners yet being snubbed, if not totally ignored. Few are still shiny which as good as glitzy new, but numerous are defaced by repeated trampling. Mostly there are five and ten cents. There’s very few twenty-five centavo also but that, too, is often ignored and flouted for the same reason. Such pity that even street children and beggars along sidewalks just pass them by and wouldn’t even care to pick them up. I retrieve these poor coins whenever I see one or few lying along my way. Yes, even for the most traffic of people rushing along the sidewalk, I too am dignified to stoop down, pick them up and handed it over under my pocket. Really, no one is picking these lowly centavos, except me (I guess). And, I put those found-coins on a small canister whenever I’m home. Such habit I came to develop for quite some time. My canister, at this point, is almost full with coins ranging from 1, 5 and 10 cents. Some are 25’s. Several are still shiny but mostly are battered and rusty. By estimation, I think it’s more than a hundred pieces already. That’s by just picking them up from lowly streets. I wonder what people are thinking about these kinds of deprived coins. To think, it is still considered money no matter how small the value is…

Here’s for real: One time, I ask my younger sibling to buy a pack of ice worth a peso. Then she went in the nearby store to buy one by bringing up these cents with her. When she came back, she brought nothing and told her that they won’t accept the money (which I gave) because it’s all centavos. It was a bit absurd. I asked the reason why but she had no idea nonetheless…

Curious, I went by in the same store to do the same except trying to buy other stuff out of it. Of course, I used those pitiable coins. True! I asked them why but a simple “not acceptable” was the only answer they could reason out of.

To mention, even small vendors in streets and in parks won’t accept it. Centavo coins are no longer valuable anywhere in the community’s. It’s totally “useless”, completely unusable. As I remembered, coins on their marred conditions lying on the street seem treated like a piece of trash. Thrown away in the garbage bin because of “no-value”, that is. How pity. You can’t even buy a piece of sweet tooth lollipop out of it and or sugary menthol candy for you to enjoy with. I wonder if our little nephews, nieces, and godchildren toddlers would be happily accept these monies as gifts. I wonder if young carolers during Christmas seasons would be delighted if some of these coins are given to them. I wonder if people in the church, the ones collecting the alms and offerings, would be pleased to account it. I wonder what could be the reaction of your co-church goer seatmates if they saw you giving some of these lowly centavos on coin baskets during mass offering services. I wonder if our long fervent wishes will come true if you offer and throw these centavo coins on a “wishing-well”.

For some reason, I keep on retrieving these unheeded coins on streets. Somewhere in my heart is telling me to pick it up. It’s not only more than that of a hobby and or more of that on mere fascination. It’s beyond giving respect to the coin itself. I still recognized its worth because the face value remains the same. Even in blighted conditions, a coin is a coin used for intended purposes. They need to be used to be useful.

Accordingly, these can be of used of in payment for groceries in big stores. My mother used these for payments on water and electric bills. To think, the Government and the Central Bank continually produced centavo coins. In fact, they spend millions of money buying specific metals from other countries just for reproduction and public used for its economic activities and functions. Yet, most people don’t seem to care. They just threw it away anywhere like a piece of dirt.

Whenever I see a centavo coin being snubbed, am reminded of the good reverend I once knew. But beyond from that learning, I have thoughts of a mere possibility that, at any moment of our lives comes, we may be like such of these wretched coins lying on the lost dirty corners and filthy streets treated the same as worthless and rubbish. That people whom we thought we care too much about might strode, ignore and reject us all the way. Because, that in our image, we might seen less of a value yet more of a burden to their account. At some point in our life, we may feel unworthy and undeserving. We may feel very small. But it does not mean we are less important. Like our daily cents, we may barely recognize and soon be out-of-circulation, but know the value isn’t utterly lost. We are always part of something big and much greater. Hence, what we need to put on is to give a chance to be useful and worthy once more. Would you care and dignified enough to pick them up?