Things I take for granted

Doreen G. Yu - The Philippine Star

I look out my window at the moon the last full moon of the year and see Venus in the western sky. I don’t see many stars because of the bright city lights, at this time even brighter because buildings are lit up for the holidays.

I think of those who look at the moon and the stars, not through a window, but straight up because they have no roof over them, their house destroyed by the gale-force winds of Typhoon Odette. They see a myriad of stars because there are no bright lights around them; there is no power in their city or town, with electric posts toppled, wires hanging limply.

I drink the mandated eight glasses of water a day and brew my tea, but drinking water is such a precious commodity for thousands who have to wait in line to get an allocation of bottled water, which is probably not even enough for the day. I take a shower at the end of a day of running errands and work at the office, and wash my hands repeatedly throughout the day, following health protocols. Then I remember many who get their water in buckets or drums, transported and rationed out since water mains may be busted and pumps don’t work because there is no electricity.

When my family gathers for the Christmas meal, I remember those whose Noche Buena was perhaps rice and canned goods or maybe instant noodles, cooked over a makeshift stove. And there are those who can’t even have as simple a meal as this, because relief goods have not reached them so they forage what they can from the debris-strewn fields around their remote area.

Nearly two years living under the pandemic, I have learned to value even more the very basic things – water to drink, food to eat, a bed to lay down my weary head, a roof overhead to keep me dry when it rains and shaded when the sun beats down.

I can text or call family and friends, whether in Makati or Manhattan, turn on the computer to do my work and the TV to watch murder mysteries and cooking shows, flip a switch to light up a darkened room… All these things – so simple, so basic – take on new significance when I realize that there are many who have to do without what have become life essentials because a typhoon – so much stronger than before – levelled their homes to the ground.

I really do not need much; this the pandemic has reminded me. And what I do not need but have, I can share.



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