It was around 3PM. The water had receded. The howling winds had calmed down. Wet and cold, we had to go back to our house in hopes that there were still things left to scavenge.
I was with my cousin, Jerome, and my aunt, Socita, along with almost a hundred people, inside a funeral parlor seeking refuge.
Super Typhoon Haiyan stripped bare my city, Tacloban City. The mountains looked like piles of earth with trees entrenched in the soil (dead) like candles on cemeteries.
I had lived in Pericohon, a barangay along Real Street facing the Tacloban cemetery my entire life. I got used to people passing by for the usual send-off of their dead. The sight after the storm was so eerie. I realized that my whole city was at that moment, a cemetery.
I had to be careful not to step on the nails that protruded from the debris or cut myself on any sharp object that was all over the place.
We got home, and I remember how I was so happy when I heard Jumong (my dog) barking and wagging his tail. In front of us were the spoils of this climatic war. On the floor lay bare all the mementos of my clan, the work of their hands and the memories that were with them, mixed with the stench of fish, coconut husks, mud, dead snakes, dead people and various sorts of debris. Everything passed away. Lifeless and memory-less.
During that moment, I was still in survival mode and my only concern was to get through the day alive with food and water in our stomachs. Comfort was vanity. Family was the only treasure and time was the real currency.
2 months after, we got back to the same home soon after we evacuated to Cebu and then Manila. It was a big risk. I didn’t know what was still left or how to start again.
I was cleaning, together with my cousins, heaps of mud and debris, when I noticed a document folder stuck underneath everything. It was my file folder that had my birth certificate, my school records, my diploma, and everything. I also found in one corner all of the wet and faded family photos. It was very sad; they can’t be recovered anymore. And lastly, I found two sheets of paper, soiled and barely readable – My 169-item dream list.
I sat down a bit and felt so happy that even if the storm washed away everything, my dream list still survived. Even though it was already torn to bits, it was still there.
Later on, I decided to throw away everything that was considered garbage and that included my dream list. It was hard. After all, I was the one who always insisted that I would make those dreams come true but at that moment, I really had to throw it away. It was just like any piece of paper – it pinches my heart to say this.
However, in my heart I knew that if those dreams, enumerated in two sheets of paper, were serious about choosing me as their seeker, then they should somehow support me of course! So, just like that, I threw that dream list and said to myself that my dreams should be understanding of me. After all, I just survived a traumatic experience.
8 months later, I arrived at Changi Airport, welcomed by my best friend before I took my plane for Europe to do a one-year experience in Italy. She told me one very disturbing thing that really defined what is now this crazy itch. She said that I would be a globetrotter.
And I bought that idea.