Of clouds and silver linings

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What good can come out of bad? Ask that question about the disaster that was Sendong and it would likely draw a blank. Two weeks after typhoon Sendong caused flashfloods in northern Mindanao, the number of casualties continues to rise. Thousands are still missing and the amount of damage to crops and properties is expected to reach billions of pesos. Affected families are facing an uncertain future even as they struggle with the painful present.

But yes, Virginia, there’s a flip side even to the direst situation. At the height of the flashfloods, ordinary beings rose to the scary challenge and managed to save lives. One of those heroes was not even human. In Cagayan de Oro, an unnamed mongrel showed seven-year-old Jennylou Yecyec why a dog deserves to be called man’s best friend. The canine was never seen again, but Jennylou survived to tell her story.

Similar tales of courage have been documented in Iligan and other badly hit areas. One news clip showed how a former convict, once shunned by neighbors because of his past, became an instant hero after he saved a number of people from drowning until daring the rampaging waters proved too risky for his own safety.

Even the toughest inmates in the New Bilibid Prisons revealed their soft side by pulling together what they could in cash and in kind to help out. They also skipped meals, the cash equivalent of which was donated to the affected families in Mindanao. Their counterparts in Zamboanga del Sur Reformatory Center in Pagadian City, meanwhile, used their carpentry skills to make coffins, which were in short supply, as their way of contributing to those who lost their loved ones in the flood.

Matthew Lance Carandang is a fitting proof that compassion knows no age. Moved by what he has seen in the news, the six-year-old wasted no time and visited a radio station to give his share for the young flood victims. Please click here to view the news clip.

Nature’s worst indeed brings out the best in people, making heroes out of a few. In light of Sendong’s painful lessons, I’d like to see an unlikely set of heroes emerge from the ranks of illegal loggers, miners, and other apathetic individuals who are believed to have contributed to the grim aftermath in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. I say unlikely, but still potential do-gooders, because it will take tons of courage, fortitude, and self-sacrifice to stop what they are doing now and redirect their energies into more positive ventures. To put public welfare above personal gains. To build rather than destroy. To save future lives, not cause untimely deaths. It is almost too late, but there’s still NOW. May they see the light and do right by their kababayans who did not live long enough to witness another new year.

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