Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Day I Traveled for Other

I remember when I started traveling, it was for self fulfillment more than anything else. But after many adventures and wanderings, I realized that it made me more human. And I learn that it is now easier to travel from place to place, not only to seek for a lost soul but also to share one’s soul to other people. My travel is now not only about my own happiness but of others as well…

I was in our house, thinking about an adventure to Dumaguete and Siquijor that has never happened. My flight was cancelled, all because of the imminent arrival of a typhoon. I was actually expecting then that the now infamous storm would already dissipate before the day of my flight but lo! It even arrived on time.

And came the news. Tacloban was badly hit. Samar was also severely affected as well as parts of Cebu, Aklan, Iloilo, Capiz, Antique and Palawan. Every night was a night of horror, not only for those who were directly affected, but also to those who were watching the television and closely monitoring all media: radio, newspapers, and the internet too.

My tears fell without me noticing it while watching the nightly news programs. I have seen many typhoons in my whole adult life but nothing ever came near to the horror I have felt upon seeing what Yolanda has done. On the 3rd night after the typhoon, I decided I have to do something, anything just to be of help. My mother always had so much apprehension whenever I tell her I would be on a trip but that night when I told her I would embark on another trip, she readily consented. I know she is worried but she lets me go anyway. She too understands.

My supposed trip to Dumaguete and Siquijor was then diverted to PanayIsland, a trip that I would surely never forget.

I reached Panay Island through Kalibo with two family members of my high school best friend Raquel Padilla, an OFW from Dumalag, Capiz and is now based in Canada. We arrived late and spent a very dark night in Kalibo for there was still no electricity. Early morning the next day, we continued traveling to Dumalag. Along the highway, we have seen damaged houses, schools, stores and other buildings. The roads were littered with fallen electric posts and trees while the crops in roadside farms were rendered useless.

Dumalag Church's Belltower. Standing strong as strong as Capiznon's spirit.
Upon arriving at Dumalag, I saw the same situation. We immediately started the relief operations courtesy of OFW’s who responded to Raquel’s call to help her kababayans (townmates) in Dumalag. After that, I had a tour of the town center and took note of its beauty amidst debris of torn roofs and uprooted trees. There was a mass in the town’s century age church and it was full with people: a testament to the people’s trust in God even after the dreaded typhoon. It can also be viewed as the people’s way of trying to move on with their lives.

The next day, I traveled to Roxas City for another relief operation, now courtesy of friends and colleagues who lent their helping hands. An FB friend helped me by linking me with Mr. Francis Varon, a local of Roxas, who then helped me in purchasing relief goods and distributing the same. Fortunately, cell phone signal was already up even though there was still no electricity, so I was able to contact Kuya Nenito, the tricycle driver who toured me around Roxas the first time I visited the beautiful city.

Damages caused by Yolanda. Somewhere in Sapian, Capiz.
From him, I learned that his neighborhood near the bay was destroyed. Even the sturdiest house where they sought shelter was not spared by the wrath of Yolanda. Many lost their home and possessions but the best thing was no one lost their lives. We decided to distribute the goods to their neighborhood.

And then I was able to see firsthand a form of bayanihan (a Filipino concept of cooperation and sense of community), one of the best things I saw during a trip.

Everyone in the vicinity when I arrived was eager to help in packing the goods. No, it is not only because they can benefit from it but one can really see that they also want to help their neighbors even in the smallest thing possible. A lady started listing names while some started calling their neighbors so that they can also help in packing, and receive their own packs as well. I have not seen anyone who wants to have more than the other. Even Kuya Nenito shared his goods, though he also needs them, to someone who arrived late. I was moved. I thought then, their houses and properties maybe destroyed, but their good spirit definitely isn’t.

Bayanihan sa Capiz. The same house's second floor was literally "floored" by Yolanda.
After that, I continued with my travel to Buruanga, Aklan to visit the parents of another worried friend and found them safe and sound. Then I also visited Libertad and Pandan towns, Antique and also saw there damages. Though they proved to be self-sufficient, they also need some form of help nonetheless. While touring these beautiful places, I thought of Capiz and the people I met there. Their sincere thanks is definitely heartwarming but more than me being appreciated, I appreciated them more. 

It was because of them that my travel to Capiz became a very humbling and fulfilling experience.

What I actually saw there are damaged properties and means of livelihood. But more than that, I saw people who are trying to fix their damaged houses; mothers and elder sisters who are cooking for their fathers, husbands and siblings; and men who are clearing the road and the mess brought about by the typhoon. I saw the kindred spirit of the people, their determination to continue on with their lives, and their capacity to help others even though they need help themselves.

I was so glad I come to see all those, most of all, their smiles.
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About the Author

I am ROMEL RAFOR JAIME, the man behind San Josenyong Gala. My travel blogger name came about because I am a proud resident of the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. In real life, I am a licensed librarian who works in a college in Gapan, Nueva Ecija as a librarian and teaches general education subjects from time to time. My goal is to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines before visiting other countries. As of 2017, I have already visited 73... :)


  1. oh boy! the most tragic things that happened to our fellow Filipino and to see how strong they are to live life again without holding grudge to nature nor to God, i'm glad you have the experience to see the whole place and glad that you were also safe.

  2. how heart breaking....glad to know that you're able to visit the place.

  3. what a very meaningful travel, which am sure is very enriching and also fulfilling, God bless.

  4. Those kind of travels are the most meaningful and memorable ones.