A story was told about a land where the sun sparkles in the morning breeze, rising beneath the sprawling mounds of Earth as the gentle curl of the roaring seas carry men riding boards in delight.
A year ago, a different story was told.
The wind was there, only it was black. The seas roared and the men were swept to death. And then silence.
It was a story that is still being told over and over like no year has passed. It is a story with many names, depending on who you ask. It is a story of Yolanda.
"Kawawa 'yung mag-iina ko."
A year after, these were still the words of Randy, 32 years old, who lost his wife and three children to the storm. He stood behind a makeshift home with walls made of plywoods and tarpaulins. Half of his roof is the open skies, around him are unfamiliar stuff picked from the rubble of his former world.
He tells the same story of any person you'll meet in Tacloban now about how the seas came to them one day. As the water rose and people were caught hiding in their homes, they fled. He kicked and kicked, shouted for the name of his wife and his kids, trying to breathe his way up from the heavy surge of waves. He grabbed anything he could - twigs, grass, a head of another person. In the chaos of the raging storm, he lost his wife's hand, his children shouted no more, and everything went dark. The next day, as the sun rises again, the world Randy knew had ended.
He found his children. They were dead lying in the dirt. Daniel, Carol, and Dindo. All dead. Their clothes ripped, their body blue. He looked for his wife, Cilia. He searched in every pile of dead bodies, fought his way through feasting flies, walked miles and miles around pictures of devastation, but the face of the woman he fell in love with was nowhere in sight.
"Tinatanong ko pa rin kung bakit hindi ko sila nailigtas. Para kang mababaliw. Gusto ko nga ako na lang ang mamatay. Bakit sila pa."
It was the same regret for the other men of Tacloban who survived the storm. So that every night, even after a year ago, when the wind is calm and the moon is up, they imagine ghosts and apparitions appearing in the darkness, making sense of the tragedy that claimed their family, their dreams, their world. All gone in a swift of a violent wind.
Now Randy is at a stand-still, like all the clocks in Tacloban stopped exactly at 7:42, the time the typhoon struck back on November 8, 2013, unsure whether to wind them up again. He knew that doing so will confirm the death of his wife and three children. That they're really gone, gone in his life.
"Minsan iniisip ko na babalik pa rin sila. Na uuwi pa rin sila. Kaya dito lang ako. Hindi ako umaalis."
For Randy, Cilia, Daniel, Carol, and Dindo. To those who perished in that storm. And above all, to those who survived.
This is my entry for November's Round Table Challenge