A True Story of Buoyancy and BlissLiving | Karla Mercado | October 5, 2009 at 8:00 am
I was born and raised in the Philippines and as I watched the news last week I desperately wanted to book the next flight to Manila:
On September 26th, Typhoon Ketsana, locally known as Ondoy, hit the Philippines with one month’s worth of rain condensed into six hours. 80% of Metro Manila, the country’s capital and major urban residential district, was underwater.
I couldn’t reach my family at all–they had no electricity, no Internet and no cellphone connections. For information I relied on the TV and online news and from what I saw, it wasn’t looking good. Homes were completely submerged, leaving families stranded on their roofs. People I knew were displaced or missing, and recorded deaths were increasing every hour.
Two days later I finally got word from home. My family was safe though their home was in shambles. Some of them lost virtually everything: furniture, electronics, books, photo albums.
Strangely, these phone calls and emails of news exuded a positive vibe. I was expecting my sister to choke up or break down through the receiver but she seemed hopeful and eager to face the aftermath. So did everyone else I talked to. They seemed so eager that they would cut our conversations short to help out a neighbor sweep the mud off the porch, or dash off to volunteer at the nearby church.
My cousin wrote, “Relatives came over to help. We laughed a lot, despite the stench and grime left by the flood.”
I’m sure that there are so many others who have it much worse than my family- some of my friends couldn’t even go back to their homes anymore and have to look for a new place to stay. This left them homeless for a few days. Lives have been lost. But believe me when I say that not a single moment goes by without seeing at least two people smile–covered in mud, from head to toe, their white teeth gleaming. I’ve learned a lot about happiness and the power of positivity in a span of two days and during a time of great calamity.
This picture was taken in my alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila University, where relief operations were facilitated for those who lived within the area. Can you read it? It says:
September 26, 2009. ONDOY was here. And so were hundreds of people who unselfishly gave their time and effort helping the thousands misplaced. Our nation is doing FINE. =)
The Philippines was ranked the 14th happiest country in the world by the New Economics Foundation in July 2009, based on average life expectancy, quality of life, and environmental track record.
I think the power of positive thinking and hope in the midst of despair can do so much, not just in terms of attitude, but also in physical well being. I feel so proud to be from the Philippines and so inspired to find happiness even when things seem hopeless.
Those rubber rescue rafts may have kept bodies safe during the flooding, but it was my fellow Filipinos’ joy and positivity that kept them afloat. Which means that under the worst conditions imaginable, you can choose to be buoyant. You can find your bliss.