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Waking Up When Others Go To Sleep August 13, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Seriously now….

This is an old, old blog entry that I wrote exactly on Feb. 17, 2006, five minutes after I saw the newsflash about the Guinsaugon tragedy. I write this in comradeship to a fellow probinsyano and law practitioner who was born and raised in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte and who wrote a similar article about the incident.


Waking Up When Others Go To Sleep

“…and I saw my reflection on a snow-covered hill… the landslide brought it down… ah-hmmmm…”

‘Landslide’, Smashing Pumpkins

I was about to write about how morose I was feeling these past few days, pining away for an unrequited love, when a sudden news flash informed our household that a whole barangay in St. Bernard, Leyte was submerged entirely by an unexpected mudslide.

All thoughts about my own sorrow melted away as the TV flashed image upon image of survivors and corpses alike, their broken bodies slick with mud, their mouths spewing clods of dirt. The camera slowly panned around the area showing what once was a populated community full of buildings and structures, now hidden underneath a common grave of lopsided earth. Earlier that day, these people went about their lives not knowing about the impending disaster that lay claim to an estimated 3,000 lives.

This barangay had an elementary school full of children who are now buried underneath the soil, never knowing what it will be like to grow up, fall in love, have their hearts broken, and moon over lost relationships. This barangay had a woman’s league that was holding a party celebrating women’s rights, but instead of celebration, the day quickly turned into one for mourning.

Underneath all the mud lay countless homes and farms with families submerged under the same loam where they grew rice, fruits, and vegetables, the mudslide interrupting them while they were eating breakfast.

Tragedy strikes us unaware and those of us who peer from the haven of supposed safety can do nothing but cringe horror-struck at the sight of life lost so instantaneously. Some of us are morbidly grateful that, for now, they are not among those who have lost their lives, their homes, or the existence of those dear to them.

….and as quick as that mudslide, I am grateful for this hole in my heart that was once a gaping maw of emptiness, which minutes after the news flash, became the pain reminding me that I was alive to suffer a minute amount of humanity’s many tragedies.

I fear it took the loss of over three thousand lives to make me realize that my own pathetic one was still preciously worth living.

But such is the dark joke of irony. Today, a barangay and its many inhabitants lost their lives to a sudden disaster. A barangay located in a municipality named after St. Bernard, the patron saint of emergencies.

“…the landslide brought it down… ah-hmmm…”


1. Fred - August 14, 2007

In memory of my kababayans….

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