Yolanda and the Heroes it Built
‘A QUESTION OF HEROES’, stated the headline news of Philippine Daily Inquirer last December 2016…
Last November 8, 2016 I was in Palo, Leyte when NASSA/Caritas Philippines celebrated the 3rd Haiyan/Yolanda Commemoration. It was a memorable and special occasion and was held exactly three years after one of the biggest typhoons and disasters hit the Philippines.
The message from the commemoration was that heroism is alive and creatively shared today. It is in our very presence and sometimes we see it in the people closest to us. Evidently it is courageously seen to those who are struggling but take it into themselves to care for others, and ‘giving without counting the cost’.
I reflected on the day I was able to watch documentaries of eight exemplary Yolanda heroes. These films showed the extraordinary courage and unique character of an ordinary Filipino. It made me strongly believe in the saying about the Philippines, “Where I’m from Everyone’s Hero”.
In preparation for the commemoration, Nassa/Caritas Philippines created a documentary contest for all the diocesans affected by typhoon Yolanda. The people who made these short films were all amateurs in video-making and trained by videographer Ruel Asuncion. After watching them, I felt that every Filipino should have the opportunity to view these amazing and inspirational stories. Read more about the celebration here at: NASSA/Caritas Philippines Celebration of Yolanda.
I felt so privileged to watch these short films that told the story of the Yolanda heroes. The first time, I viewed it as a judge for the documentary contest. The second time I viewed it was because I became a fan, watching it in a completely full theatre in Robinsons Tacloban.
I rounded up my top four favorites from all eight heroes:
Archbishop Rolly Tirona with one of the eight heroes from the Yolanda documentaries, Kuya Allan (Photo Source: Anchored Philippines)
1. Kuya Allan
After the typhoon, Kuya Allan, a Yolanda survivor from Basey,Samar, immediately donated his coconut trees to his local community for them to build temporary shelters. Despite his disability as a polio patient, he is an active member of his community and is much loved. He also has the responsibility of being the book keeper of their association’s accounts and records. When asked why he’s always present in community activities he says “it is only my body that has a problem, not my brain.”
2. Kuya Montano of Kalibo
The story of Kuya Montano reminds us that we always have a chance to help others. He opened his house to ten families whose houses were destroyed during typhoon Haiyan, and provided food for them. Now, he continues to help his fellow Haiyan survivors by teaching them how to grow dragon fruit in their own backyards. When asked why he is doing it, he said, “I am happy that I have the capacity to help others”. (source:Nassa/Caritas Philippines)
3. Kuya Clodualdo of Cebu
The story of Kuya Clodualdo is a living example of a hero in our midst. He is living life by affirming the principle of “do small things with Great Love”
Clodualdo is one of the Typhoon Yolanda shelter beneficiaries of Caritas Village, Marikaban, Sta. Fe, Cebu. He earns his daily income from shoe and umbrella repair services, carpentry and tombstone engraving. Some days he does not have a single customer, leaving him partly dependent on his wife’s’ income acquired from doing personal laundry service. His love for his family extends to the wider local community, children not of his own family and his relatives. He dedicates his Sundays to gathering most of the children in the village to a small learning activity focusing on the children’s self-development with academic tutorials and help related to each child’s learned lessons from school and values formation. He feels that what he is doing is important and integral to the long-term development of the community (Source:Nassa/Caritas Philippines).
4. Nanay Laica
All the judges were very impressed by Nanay Laica and her film from Antique, because of its very simple message that “ Nothing beats the heart of a mother.”
Each of the heroes from the Yolanda documentaries received trophies from Nassa/ Caritas. Here is Nanay Laica from Antique with Archbishop John Du of Diocesan Social Action Center (DSAC) of Palo and Archbishop Rolly Tirona, National Director of NASSA/ Caritas Philippines, Mc Junes Vitudio, the videographer and story writer, and the video trainer for all the videographers Ruel Asuncio (Photo Source: Anchored Philippines)
Nanay Laica will always find a way to make her children continue with their schooling. She is involved with so many livelihood projects, from selling freshly picked vegetables from her garden to bringing softdrinks and snacks to the local farmers. She always plays an active role in her community and is the treasurer of the water system organization, barangay nutrition scholar and the vice-chairman of the Barangay Pastoral Council for her community. For her daughter, Nanay Laica will always be her hero because in whatever challenges they face in life, her mother is always there for her.
“Yolanda taught us so many lessons about faith, hope and charity. There are still many untold stories of heroism and the resilience of Yolanda survivors. So many people from different and far-flung communities that were devastated by Yolanda are the unsung heroes, who have helped their communities to recover and build back a better life for the survivors,” – Nassa/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary, Edwin Gariguez.
Yolanda may have been the biggest storm surge that has hit the Philippines but the stories of countless heroes built by this tragedy continue to live on. The resilience of the Filipino people is based on working together and helping each other. May we recognize through these countless heroes that our lives are meant to be lived for the benefit of others, no matter how difficult or challenging the situation in front of us may be. May we be inspired by them because truly, where we’re from, everyone’s a hero!
Anchored Philippines is putting up a fund to share to these Yolanda Heroes so that they continue the good that they do. If you would like to #sharetheloveandlight with us, hit us a message here: Anchored Philippines