When I was a little girl growing up in my grandfather’s house in Cotabato City, I was frequently alone. I was not allowed to go outside and dirty myself running around the dusty streets with other children. During these times, all I had for company were my stuffed toys and a large bookshelf. These “lonely” times were the tiny seed to my love of reading. Some of my favorite books were actually children’s science books with big letters and even bigger illustrations. I was fascinated by what they said about the big, big world (yes, larger than even those letters and illustrations) beyond my grandfather’s house.
One of them described the power of hurricanes. It even had color illustrations of a hurricanes’ strong winds ripping trees, and even houses, off the ground. Now, the illustration was that of a small straw hut. But, naive as I was, I believed that since the caption said “houses” it literally meant that a hurricane would uproot every single kind of house imaginable. In my mind’s eye, a hurricane meant piles and piles of splintered wood and a dim, rainy wasteland. It terrified me to think that me and my family would lose our comfortable, sturdy home. The book also mentioned people dying by the thousands. Now “thousands” to a little girl pretty much meant every single person on earth. I only knew about, perhaps, a hundred people after all. We would all be sitting ducks to this predator. To me, this big, bad, unfathomable thing called a “hurricane” meant the end of the world. I even prayed that no such thing as a hurricane (which is pretty much the same thing as a typhoon unless you get super technical) would ever, ever come close to home.
Fast forward nearly twenty years later and I am sitting comfortably in my bed with a bowl of instant noodles in the middle of what may be the biggest typhoon in my life. (I am fortunate enough to live on high ground where the worst that could happen is that a tree will fall down and hit me on the head.) After the tragedy that was Sendong, I know that this storm will likely damage properties. I can only pray that it will not damage lives. But I also do know that whatever is to come, it is not the end of the world. For now I know that the human spirit is stronger and far more resilient than any typhoon the Pacific cares to throw at us.