By Janelle Reserva
Tirus, Ella, Leo, Maureen, Marian… these are the few names we left in Brgy. Trinidad, Tubabaw Guiuan Eastern Samar in the 48-hour medical mission trip. We boarded a C130, an odd-looking astonishing military plane with blaring metal doors, the first plane we all boarded without seat belts. We were seated in between the boxes of relief goods as the plane took us to a place we’ve only heard on television.
We arrived there on a perfect sunset of orange and yellow. It was romantic yet strong and brave all at the same time; it warmed and put to view the outlines of the utter misery of the city.
All the trees as far as we saw were either uprooted or striped on one side at its foliage as it tilted south (as it tilts to a side). If there were roofs on top of the houses, these were either taken off or were made up of sheets of tarpaulins. Children wore torn clothes. Cement and scrap housing materials littered the roads.
We hauled all that we carried from the plane. We had 25 boxes of goods and about 20 hand-carry bags of medicines, tents, and food. This was probably the 9th time the team did this. Even as I write now, I can still feel the backpack straps on my back.
It was exhausting even before we arrived. At night, we had a full rest with the stars peeping from the roof.
The morning greeted us with rainwater splatters bouncing from the floor. I’ve heard from one of the volunteers that there are people in a baranggay in the area that cry whenever it rains.
The medical team conducted check-ups for blood pressure and the treatment of minor and major wounds.
Cuts treated without anesthetics could have turned a smiling patient into a mad man. Other than medical treatment, the team gave out packs of food and offered prayers for all the victims.
If there was something constant in the mission, it was hope. It was hope that came from the people since we arrived . They showered us with smiles and “ hellos ” and helpful hands. It was incomprehensible coming from a city that only received relief goods three days after the strongest storm that hit the country.
I can’t even imagine what they ate knowing almost all the boats were shattered. Nevertheless, they showed strength.
Their stories of helping each other fix what’s left of their homes, of sharing food, of fixing boats, of being very grateful for all the help they received, of choosing to live, of standing together and of carrying the burdens of one another transformed the definition of hope and transformed everyone’s lives for the better.
It also affected the volunteers who went to Guiuan. It transformed us to live generously as life goes on, as bills continue to come, as responsibilities continue to grow and even if life doesn’t always sail smoothly. It transformed us to believe in the government with all its imperfections, to think first before we go against its efforts to improve its systems, to start fighting for what it values and by it, also to not waiting for someone else to act.
It taught us that we might not be able to control a lot of things and control how people respond to them, but we can control our decisions and thoughts. We can rule it to always demonstrate love even in the harshest situations.