Making sense of sorrowful Yolanda memories

WHEN Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) turned Tacloban City as well as other places in Eastern Visayas and across the Visayas into a virtual wasteland three years ago on Tuesday, the wind speed recorded hovered around 200 to 250 kilometers per hour (kph).

That is roughly the equivalent of one kilometer per minute, or simply 100 meters per second.

In contrast, the Jamaican sprint runner, Usain Bolt, in 2009 set the world record in 100-meter dash at 9.58 seconds, thus what Bolt did in nearly ten seconds Yolanda finished in just a second. (Bolt’s speed in kph is rounded at 45 kph, only one-fifth of Yolanda’s).

With such a strong velocity, it was no wonder many coconut trees in a mountain slope in Dulag overlooking the sea and the highway were blown off, piling each other like disordered toothpicks.

But that was three years ago.

Today, the surviving, standing coconut trees still showed traces of the tragedy in their shattered, disfigured leaves, yet many are bearing fruits again.

Elsewhere, signs of life flourished in the everyday routine: the businesses, the schools, and the lively community - the people have survived and moved on much like the sturdy yet resilient standing coconuts.

“In Barangay Anibong five ships were washed ashore,” I overheard a fellow van passenger telling her seatmate in Waray dialect.

“In the astrodome... when it was flooded with rampaging seawaters... those who sought refuge there went outside, only to meet the same fate.”

That was the dark side.

The death toll figures, including the missing bodies, varied from 6,000 to 10,000, and still counting days, weeks and months after the calamity.

Pope Francis consoled with the victims and survivors in January last year, and even he could not offer answers to the struggle for understanding on why such suffering happen, ironically within a week after All Souls Day.

The brighter side was that the world responded, individually and by organizations, to help the people pick up the pieces, and be back on their feet sooner.

And on this third anniversary the theme centered more on faith, hope, and love - basic ingredients to cook a recipe of strength and courage and spiritual peace.

There are still unfinished tasks, but for now it is best and fitting to take a moment to remember the dead, and inspire the living to keep on the business of living. (PIA)