Posts Tagged ‘cagayan de oro’


Community Floods

January 6, 2009

Rain had been pelting in Iligan for several days before last Saturday night. I usually don’t care about the weather as long as I am safe inside the house and tucked in for the night. I just hide under my blanket and pillows if it’s too cold, or have my electric fan running all night if it’s too hot. That night, however, I sensed a strange nudging that reminded me about the families assigned to my care in the Tambacan community. I then made a quick prayer, “Lord, protect my families in the community. In Jesus’ name. Amen,” then quickly retreated to sleep.
I only learned later the next day that a tragedy had occurred while I slept. The light rains in Iligan had heavy counterparts in the mountains. Water from these mountains fed rivers and streams, which poured down the city. It was about 3am in the morning when they overflew; and flooded the towns of Bayug, Manuang, and Tambacan.
About 7,840 families were displaced totaling to some 38,674 persons in Northern Mindanao. Cagayan de Oro bore the brunt in terms of property damage and persons affected.
Yesterday, a classmate mentioned that most of the families left their houses during the flash flood. Some of them slept on the highways as the evacuation centers had not yet been opened. Some of these families were also expecting aid from the ones who regularly went to them for “survey”*. A visit to the Barangay Captain** made the situation bleaker, he mentioned that our community was the hardest hit. So it was no wonder that I was prepared for the worst when I stepped inside the community.
Mud paved the dirt road to my families. Children scampered as they played. Well meaning folks told us to go the other way as the usual short cuts were too mushy for stepping. People stared at us as some of us ventured wearing clean, all-white apparel in an environment that stands as a stain reservoir. In short; except for the increased mud volume, the community was just as it was when we left it for the Christmas break. It seemed that the houses were already looking their normal selves, despite the fact that many of them had water reaching their residents’ shoulders 3 days ago.
I went to my families, and was relieved to find that their housing complex still stood strong. Despite the fact that their houses were just beside the river, they were among the few in the area were no water even managed to reach their doors.
They mentioned that the water level in the river rose to the height of the dyke, and was a few inches to their doors. Fortunately, the river stopped rising, and their houses were saved from flood damage.
The same, however, cannot be said for those living below the dyke level. A break*** in the dyke caused water to flow to what should have been protected areas.
As I returned to my classmate’s car, I thanked God for protecting my families. I also prayed that He continue to watch over the community as it seeks to rise from their recent ordeal. I could see that they are hardy enough to withstand future calamities. If only they were given the necessary boosts from the city and from landowners…

*That would be us, medical students.
** The barangay is the basic unit of the Philippine government. It is headed by the barangay captain.
***Residents blame the break on someone with the family name Lluch won’t allow the city government to build a dyke on the land. Either the city government is not offering enough compensation, or the landowner is asking for too much. Yet it is the people who suffer in such battles.

1. Flashfloods hit Iligan City villages
2. Arroyo orders quick aid for flash flood victims in Mindanao
3. Heavy rains, flash floods mark start of New Year
4. Arroyo to visit flood victims in north Mindanao


Waiting for a Verdict

April 22, 2008

Curious about the proceedings of an actual court hearing, I stepped inside a room where a trial was taking place. I don’t think I would have been allowed inside had I not been somewhat connected to one of the lawyers. I had hitched a ride from the airport in Cagayan de Oro to Iligan in my high school classmate’s car. It turned out her father was a lawyer and that he was also scheduled to represent or was it to prosecute a defendant. I could no longer remember the details of that case except for the moment when the defendant gave his testimony.

The defendant sat relaxed as the court interrogated him.
He was well built bordering on obesity and the hint of a beer belly. He had dark brown skin that hinted of a life of toil under the sun. He wore a plain white shirt and jeans. There was nothing remarkable about him. He was at the center of attention simply because someone brought a complaint against him.
Then he spoke. I could not recall his words, but I remember he had a deep baritone voice. That voice had a certain quality that is sought after in documentaries. Yet it was not just the tone that brought my attention, it was the language. He was speaking in perfect, fluent Cebuano!
I speak Cebuano. I grew up in that language. I even spoke it to the point of impoliteness in Manila, where the dominant language is Tagalog. Yet I must admit that my Cebuano was like a maya* compared to the eagle** that was his Cebuano.
Western influence has transformed Cebuano, or at least the Cebuano that I grew up in. Spanish words have seamlessly integrated into it to the point that some of us get surprised that a certain word has Spanish origins. English has also done its share, and has even replaced the use of Spanish in some cases. An example would be in counting. Traditionally, we use Cebuano words for the number of things until the number 10. Beyond 10, we switch to Spanish i.e. onse, dose, trese, etc. Money talk, however, is traditionally done using Spanish***. Nowadays, it is now common to see members of the newer generations to count only in English be it for money or for the number of things.
Hearing the man talk in perfect Cebuano somehow opened my eyes to that language. I didn’t realize that Cebuano could actually become beautiful. My generation, or at least those who belong to the upper social classes, do not think much about the classical use of our language. We cannot write in it in the same degree we write in English. We cannot even understand it when we read it!
Truth be told, I haven’t even seen Cebuano literature aside from Cebuano Bibles. These, btw, are disposed of to “those who cannot understand English”. We don’t listen to sermons in Cebuano, because we wouldn’t be able to understand it! We prefer to listen to our ministers and priests in English. Yet we have not stopped ourselves from speaking it, but in relegating it to conversation we have somehow reduced it.
IMO, there is nothing colorful about contemporary Cebuano. Our words are direct. Our vocabulary is small. Our conversations lack idioms. When asked for synonyms of our common words, we give English words. When asked to explain topics, some of us even answer in straight English. What’s worse is that every other sentence that comes from our mouths have at least a word of English mixed with the Cebuano words. How we use our language is a far cry from how the man under trial used it.
Then an ironic thing happened at the trial. The stenographer interrupted the proceeding asking for a proper English translation of the man’s statement. The court agreed upon a grammatically incorrect, bad sounding, and simple translation. I wanted to tell them to keep the man’s statement, but I was only a spectator and had no right to interrupt a legal proceeding. Yet I couldn’t help but think that future generations would never know about the true words the man spoke. The records would show them a man who could not speak perfect English when in reality he was a man who spoke perfect Cebuano.
I did not stay long at the trial. I left with a nagging thought:

The Cebuano language is under trial. Its judge and jury are its speakers, and they will pronounce sentence upon its fate. Only time will tell whether they let it die a slow death, or let it rise again with new life.

*Formerly the national bird, the maya is a small bird with brown and black feathers.
**I am referring here to the Philippine Eagle. It took the title of “National Bird” from the maya on 1995. It stands at about 3.3 ft with a wingspan of about 6.7 ft.
***Many a Cebuano has gotten culture-shocked after asking for the price of something in Manila. Where they would get “diyes” or “singko” in their respective provinces, they would get a “sampu” or “lima” in Manila. They do expect that Tagalogs use the same words for money and the number of things.


Where’s the Cheese?

January 12, 2008

Image take from:

It’s now about two weeks from the end of the holiday season but there’s still no cheese around here.
I don’t know about the current status of other areas, but immediately after the holiday season there was no cheese from Davao to Iligan. Davao city did not have it. Cagayan de Oro did not have it. Iligan did not have it. Perhaps, even the towns did not have it. All this, however, is from the perspective of neighbors who had a vacation in Davao and returned after New Year’s Day.
What’s worse is that our cheese supply has just ran out. Now how am I supposed to cheesen up dips, bread, and other dishes!