Great tragedy

TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - January 17, 2020 - 12:00am

Tragedies are always painful, the pain almost always due to their unexpectedness. Almost always, tragedies strike when everything is just about normal and perfect. Then bam, and everything just about disintegrates. Some tragedies are so painful that even picking up the pieces can hurt just as much as when first they hit.

But there are tragedies that are just harder than others. One that I would like to painfully share with my readers is the sudden unexpected death of two De La Salle Lipa students. I do not know Rio John Abel and Maximino Alcantara III, nor ever heard of them until I read in Philstar the story of their deaths. The accompanying photos of them suggest they were just ordinary kids.

Even their deaths were not extraordinary. The car they rode on the way home got hit by a large truck. These are accidents so commonplace people almost never pay attention to them anymore. But Abel and Alcantara just did something extraordinary just before they died. They had just come from distributing relief goods to victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.

It was an extraordinary act by the two young men, considering that Taal has not yet stopped erupting. In fact, state volcanologists are nowhere near downgrading the high alert levels they raised, suggesting things might pick up again or worse, a bigger bang could yet happen. But Abel and Alcantara braved the angry elements to exhibit their own humanitarian bent.

The tragedy that befell the communities around Taal is great. There can be no immediate relief or comfort that will assuage the pain and misery the tragedy caused. But if there is any consolation, any consolation at all, it is that the tragedy is due to natural causes. No human hand was involved in the eruption. What finger there is to point stops at the door of God.

And that, in a way, will eventually make all victims recover faster. With no human being to blame, people can concentrate on picking up the pieces and moving on. But things are different with Abel and Alcantara. Without meaning to be insensitive, the thought cannot be avoided that they did not have to go on a relief mission. There is never a dearth of relief efforts in times like this.

But Abel and Alcantara were probably made of a different stuff, probably cast of a different mold. With a heart for those who suffer, they went to where their hearts longed. In an unofficial capacity, they were akin to first responders. They knew what they had to do and did it. The human spirit and the fervor of volunteerism seized their beings, provided them their moment.

And then fate tragically dropped the curtain on them. Therein lies the great unquenchable pain. It hurts because it is regrettable. It hurts because it could not have happened. The deluge of "what ifs" become daggers of torment that pierce the consciences of even those who do not know them. But then life offers no exception to consolations. To their parents, let me in my prayers say --what a great way for your sons to go to heaven.


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