Barangay Andap: A Hope-full Commemoration of the First-Year Anniversary of Typhoon Pablo
By: Jaymee Q. Leonen
A privilege indeed it was for The MLAC Team to be part of the one year Commemoration Activity of Typhoon Pablo as it hit Andap and the rest of Compostela Valley. Last December 4, 2013, Dr. Carandang , Aileen Sison , and I, traveled to Barangay Andap, Compostela Valley, to take part of this event. The MLAC Team had been visiting the community as part of a long-term psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery project. The first visit had been conducted in January 2013, one month after the typhoon had hit. From then on, MLAC made a commitment to journey with the survivors of Compostela Valley, specifically those from the town of New Bataan. This is what makes the MLAC Team unique from all other groups who have extended help to the survivors. We stayed to journey with them.
The MLAC team made several more visits after that, providing follow up sessions for expressive arts therapy to the children of the survivors. The community members were also empowered, specifically the teachers, who were first provided their own session for group therapy to address their personal needs, and then provided training to equip them with skills on how to help the children in their recovery process and also to spot those who may need further intervention from professionals. Barangay Andap had undergone much devastation, being the community that had the highest proportion of lives lost despite the small land area. Naturally, much pain was felt from the survivors, for the loss of property and loved ones. Many lost their parents, siblings, relatives, best friends.
Today, all these fallen heroes were remembered. The commemoration began with a solemn mass celebrated in the church in Barangay Andap. This was graced by the presence of many community leaders and members, both of the church and the government, symbolizing the unity, respect , and love that the people of the community have for those who have passed away because of Pablo. But while the feeling of pain and love was in the air, what dominated the community was the feeling of hope. I was telling my fellow MLAC team members that I was humbled by the people, and I was extremely thankful to them, because in their company, I felt total contentment. I awed at the hope that emanated from the community despite all that it had gone through, and the spirit of the people who continued to hope for a better tomorrow , with the love for those lost still burning in their hearts.
The people of New Bataan town gather together in the Church of Barangay Andap to celebrate the Holy Mass together.
After the community mass, the Tower of Hope was inaugurated. This Tower of Hope was designed and constructed by the local artist Kublai Milan. This was the symbol of all those who were lost and the hope they left with and continue to give to the survivors.
The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of the Tower of Hope
A short program followed, but the team had to proceed to fulfilling our mission and purpose for coming to the community that day. In the church, we gathered the teachers whom we met last May. Dr. Carandang told them “bumalik kami dito para ipadama sa inyo na hindi namin kayo nakalimutan (we came back to express to you that we have not forgotten you)” . The shift in the expression of their faces were evident as their eyes sparkled and their faces softened, and they clapped in their happiness because amidst the new series of disasters from earthquakes to Yolanda, we still continued to journey with them.
The camera captures the smiles of the teachers of Barangay Andap when Dr. Carandang tells them “hindi naming kayo nakalimutan”.
The talk was followed by a brief kamustahan to check on how the teachers have been doing in the past months since the team’s last visit. They were then serenaded by a personal composition of Family Recovery Center Representative Mike Shimamoto about his experience with a child survivor from Andap. A tribute was also given to them by Maan Chua, a local independent artist/ singer who wrote a song entitled “Guro” describing the heroism of teachers in their profession. Tita Aileen Sison from the MLAC Team, together with Dr. Carandang ,talked about future plans for the project, including a follow up visit for the teachers and children. The program was then closed with the singing of a community song.
The community was thankful for our visit, but little do they know how much more thankful we are, for the hope and inspiration they have left us in our hearts.
The Barangay Andap teachers with Dr. Carandang, Aileen Sison, Jaymee Leonen, Michael Shimamoto, and Chris Delmonte.