Rebuilding again

VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Fe Perez - The Freeman

As the week was about to close I had the opportunity to visit one of the provinces of Central Visayas that was badly hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013, Bohol. It was a great leap of a challenge for me because the terrain is unfamiliar but I knew I needed to look for stories that encompass the ordinary.

At exactly 8:12 in the morning on the 15th of October, all the church bells in Bohol were simultaneously rung. Sirens from emergency vehicles also took part in the noise that remembered the tragedy taking lives of about 200 and more. It was a gloomy morning, so to speak. A solemn mass was offered for the eternal repose of the souls and stories were recalled. Others were still in pain while the majority of the Boholano people were already standing strong.

A little while off our little trip, many have tried to ask the purpose for our loitering in their province. I humbly answered that it was for the purpose of commemorating for the earthquake. They looked at us quite puzzled as if they have forgotten, I know others have tried to forget it and move on.

I met this one woman named Shirley who lost an arm due to the earthquake. For nine hours she was stuck in the rubble that badly damaged not only her arm but her whole life. She used to live in a very huge house which provided her everything. Now they live across the street where their home used to be and inside a makeshift house.

Her mother was still in tears as she recalls. Even Shirley's father became crippled after their home wall fell on them. What's worse that a fault line has been discovered underneath their old house making it impossible for them to rebuild again.

Shirley still gets teary eyed as she recalled that painful incident but it has also placed in her the strength to keep going.

Despite what happened, she continues to work in a drugstore even with one missing arm. It is true that there are no accidents with God because she was given the chance to meet Pope Francis personally with a meal. For her, that was the most amazing thing that happened in her life. Out of the many hundreds, she was lucky enough to have been chosen.

It was surreal she said, like an out of this world gift given to her. Most of all it gave her a sense of hope to keep on. She gave me a different smile that radiated throughout. She is now happy.

I know although the shaking of the ground on that fateful day will never be forgotten.

Bohol has already risen after the earthquake. Business is booming, investments are kicking in and tourism is on its toll. While other historical sites and churches could not be restored, the department of tourism in the province has made use of the ruins - by telling a story with the rubbles that has fallen to the ground. It is not a sad story anymore. Everybody has already understood that life goes on and everything happens for a reason.

There are so many stories that are left untold on the tale that shook many. Even us here Cebu, many stories can be told. That half a minute ultimate shake has changed the lives of many and it continues on until this day.

Kudos to the province of Bohol for a job well done. It would not take much longer for it to be a hundred percent restored after it being declared at eighty. Soon Bohol will be on a rise, taking back the glory it once had. It will be without a doubt that one day the islands of Central Visayas will shine all throughout.

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