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Lessons at Ground Zero
« on: November 13, 2019, 06:31:06 PM »
Lessons at Ground Zero
By Pops Gumana-Fruylan

I’ve been posting pessimistic messages lately about my earthquake experiences, expressing how traumatic it is to be working at the ground floor of a three-storey building where panic occupies my mind all the time and I become very sensitive to every earth’s movement no matter how weak it is. A lot of Generals would surely sympathize with me; after all experiencing an Intensity IV earthquake is not a joke.

When we visited Barangay Daig in Tulunan, North Cotabato for our Oplan Kaagapay Outreach Project I was disheartened with what I saw; debris were scattered everywhere, some houses were totally wrecked, steel walls bent, and concrete roofing kissed the ground. The remnants of the devastation were blatantly displayed and I could not imagine how the residents managed to survive the destruction brought by the series of Intensity 7 earthquakes.

During the outreach I saw Jollibee dancing, it was JCI Tacurong Kampilan’s idea to bring the famous mascot in the area to bring smiles to the children who experienced trauma when their place became the epicenter of the three strong quakes last month. Then I heard a middle-aged man commented “Kung wala pa mi nalinogan Ma’am wala gyud intawon mi nakakitang Jollibee” and they all laughed as if nothing tragic has happened.

Children were enjoying the food while watching the two clowns/magicians doing magic tricks. Mothers were dancing and laughing. Then another man approached me “Day siguro naa nay hurim-hurim, kanang black magic ba. Kay nganong nawala man sa iyahang kamot?”  They were really amazed while laughing. I smiled and explained that those were just tricks and that magicians have fast fingers and toys to aid them in doing magic tricks.

Under the tree, I sat beside Tatay Demetrio who was I think in his late 50s or early 60s. He narrated how the disrupted ground shaking pushed them up, down, forward, backward, and sideways.

“Wala na ning among lugar ma’am gikutaw na gyud nig pag-ayo sa dalom mao ng ibalhin na mi.”

I learned from the Barangay Chairman that all residents in Purok 1, where the barangay center is currently located, will be relocated to Purok 3 permanently.

My heart breaks. How does it feel to be living in a totally different community just because the place where you spent your childhood was actually the same place where the fault line is located? What a tragedy.

When we were about to depart the place, I bid goodbye to the Principal of Daig Elementary School who showed not just the devastation in her school but also in her home. She used to have a beautiful, concrete house with almost complete furnishings. When I went inside, I saw the collapsed ceilings, bent steel bars, and a broken floor. It seemed like the force of destruction started from the ground and ripped her house. I only stayed inside for few seconds, I was cautious because the debris might fall anytime.

I hugged her tight as my expression of sympathy; she hugged me back and said “Babangon kami ma’am.”

I was speechless. How could these people be so positive while I was so pessimist all these times? I was overwhelmed with negativity, with fear, while they choose to look at the brighter side of life and continue living normally. Then I told myself, it is mindset Pops, it is mindset. You can choose to be scared and quit or face everything and rise. It’s a choice. It’s always a choice, but never forget that in every trial never ever lose your trust in God, your faith in God.

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