Written By Neyzielle Ronnicque Cadiz, Writer, Operation Blessing Philippines

She said she will never forget that dreadful morning when she nearly faced death last year. But then again, who would? Even the world didn’t.

Maybe stories about surviving typhoon Yolanda are cliché now that one year has passed. It may also even be too mainstream to be writing stories about people’s resilience amidst the storm’s devastation.

But no one in the world could know better about hiding fear and anxieties behind a smile than the survivors of the typhoon’s rage. No one could erase the memories of tremors of having been able to save no one but their own lives. We hear testimonies of how hard they tried with all their might, but were left with nothing but their eyes wide open seeing their fellowmen drowning and crying for help.

Marites Codillio, 38, struggled to save her life and six children whom she thought were her own. Four of the children she saved lost their mothers. She said that she was wailing as she shouted the names of her own children; thankfully, they were all okay. She lost her house where everything she owns was stored. Still in the process of bringing their normal life back, then came the news about typhoon Ruby.

Marites (4)

Marites, like most of the people in the Visayas, feels all the more helpless when even just a drizzle can bring back memories of loss and grief. The moment they learned about a typhoon tracking the same path as typhoon Yolanda entering Visayas, people started panic buying goods they could store during the storm, and everyone was one step ahead, finding their safe ground even before typhoon Ruby entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

The people of Barangay Pagnamitan, Guiuan, Eastern Samar (where one of Operation Blessing’s Communities of Hope is located) found themselves climbing the mountain and seeking shelter in the nearest cave for fear of the forecasted storm surge.

“I didn’t want to go to the cave because I have a lot of faith that this house is my safe ground,” said Marites. But she didn’t have a choice but to go because of the strict enforcement of preventive evacuation.

“Thank God nothing happened. Our house stood stronger than typhoon Ruby. I feel safe here. I felt like I am always the one who is saving people but this house showed me that I can also be saved, emotionally and physically. Here, I found my security,” she said with a sincere smile plastered on her face.

Her house, together with 89 other more are all standing strong to date. The faith and endurance of the people in Pagnamitan are as strong as the houses built with endurance and strength. Indeed, not even a strong typhoon can shake the houses’ foundation, because they were all built with the Lord’s saving grace.

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