In between writing jobs that pay and one for self-expression lies the search for inspiration. The collection on books about writing is slowly piling up on my desk. Thanks to a supportive relative who brings them in boxes every time he comes home for holiday. Undeniably, it’s the season of sharing. Not even the recent episode with Storm Haiyan (typhoon Yolanda) could douse the enthusiasm of kids and folks with the advent of Christmas. I wanted to keep-up with blogging. Prior to Haiyan’s havoc, I had prepared a writing plan that says produce at least 10 blogs per month and one e-book by the end of 2013. The two weeks without power supply affected my momentum in writing. Picking up the pace required much effort and inspiration. What a way to restart but mull on the tragedy that swept the region where I grew up. Now it’s time to move on and look forward to 2014.
About the blogs, they are slowly coming. Most of my working days had been shared between teaching in a local college and SEO writing. I have also started working on an e-book which is now saved in the cloud. The choice of a topic is a reflection of my attempt to reconnect with my roots. As most writers do, one needs to do thorough research on the subject before a chapter is even started. After three days, I made it to chapter 3 but still largely unfinished. The whole idea is there, the plots are clearly outlined. Predictable – this is how I would like my first attempt at creative writing would be. No frills. Just pure human interest set in a context that is Filipino culture. As the story of “The Promise” unfolded and words slowly came out, I looked at my own daughter getting giddy on the number of followers she gets from the fiction she was crafting and posting at Wattpad. I celebrate her joy at accomplishing such a feat at so young an age. If there’s something a parent can pass on to their kids, am glad mine chose the books and love for writing.I hope to finish the entire e-book by January even if it takes much of my time within the first days of 2014. Once the draft is done, the crucial part of editing will follow. I may require the service of a good editor to give my book a chance for printing.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the e-book I’m working on.
One fateful day, a man named Pablo woke up to a different dawn, unlike the many he normally gets up to each day to prepare his boat for a day of fishing. It rained the whole night, and neighbors were saying a storm, not an ordinary one is coming to the island. He looked at his sleeping wife’s form beside him and thought of rousing her to go to the village chapel where some of his neighbors said they will converge. He kissed her on the forehead and waited for her eyes to open. Little did he know that it will be the last time he will do this morning ritual. In the morning of November 7, 2013, super storm Haiyan hit the eastern coast of the Pacific. It ravaged several areas in the Pacific including the central part of the Philippines, Vietnam and other parts of Asia, leaving no mercy on whatever was in its path. In the Philippines alone, a month after the disaster, official report showed more than 6000 people died on that fateful day.
Always every after storm, people clean up the clutter and debris, mourn for their loss and get back to the new normal. This is what Super typhoon Haiyan did to my region. Although my own city was spared from the worst, we had our share of surreal moments. I’m sure that anyone who had lived through the same tragedies can imagine how it is to see people suffer. No amount of words can appease those mixed emotions of anguish and anger, subsiding into acceptance, which now had started to turn into hope and action.
For more than two weeks, we had no access to power. Bits of news and access to the internet came in spurts through shared mini- wireless devices at home. For the most part, we retire at night earlier than usual. The days’ routine had been shortened including the kids’ school hours. Since TV was off in those days, the girls turned to reading their favorite e-books and novels. Now it had become a habit. Since my online writing job was stopped, I found time to read books again. Then, there was the semester starting in November and I had to prepare for two subjects to teach in a local private College at home.
By the second week after Yolanda (how Haiyan is locally named), I volunteered to join the four-day relief and medical mission organized by the Franciscan community that run the College where I teach. The team tried to reach out to the neglected villages, where less external assistance came, but it was impossible to cover them all given the limitations of our supplies and the time allocated for that trip. We managed to distribute relief goods to communities by the main roads and those blocked by the fallen debris. We learned that some of these areas were inaccessible for almost 3 to 4 days. People shared their stories of how they survived by helping one another. By the time we reached the communities the team selected for relief distribution and medical services, people have started picking up the pieces and rebuilding their make-shift homes. Children and young people were still in the mode of roaming around their villages, often coming in throng when relief services arrive. We heard stories of grief, of courage and determination to live. We felt the tears unshed by fathers and husbands who lost wives, a parent or kids of their own. Women in their sense of dismay and desperation still managed to rally around aid workers and help in the distribution of what good people from other parts of the country had shared. The old people were saying that Haiyan was unlike the other strong storms that they had witnessed in the last 7 to 8 decades. The sheer force of wind and water turned to horror what otherwise were rustic and pristine beaches dotting the coastal areas of Samar Island. There is no one to blame. Surely, not Mother Nature. For She is but going through her normal cycle of birth, decay and rebirth. Although climate change is a huge but unrecognized factor in the way weather patterns have turned abnormal (unusual) in the last five years in our archipelago (and similar parts of the globe), people are still unaware of what is it. Climate justice campaigners had been crying out all these years. This time the voice of desperation has become louder. Still, nothing seems to move. The effects of global warming may be irreversible, but people can still adapt and survive, like we used to all our lives. The real tragedy is – we remain ignorant of how the excesses of others can affect our lives drastically.