Let’s see. Law school has been everything but ordinary. To call my experience challenging would be right but quite underrated. To call it extremely difficult would come close to most parts of it but that would be focusing too much on the downside. To call it blessed would be very apt, although to add “very” to the blessed would make it more correct.

Whenever a new school year begins, I’m always ready with promises and goals like higher grades, a healthier body, and other things, which already seem menial today. The failures of the past are stripped off from my shoulders as I decide to do better.

Senior year came and these resolutions proved to be idealistic. Skipping the details on the laborious adventure called “thesis writing”—or rather, “thesis-finishing”—that ate up most of the first half of the year, and pushing aside the suddenly heavier pressure of graduation and the greater realization of the bar (God willing), the greatest challenge brought upon me and my family came as a fortuitous event, a natural calamity, and, as they say, the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history.

So, how do we exactly move on from the damage and destruction brought by Typhoon Yolanda? One would wish for a manual or a “Moving On for Dummies” book in yellow and black to guide us, but even that wouldn’t suffice. For sure, our lives will never be the same. The Tacloban we grew up in is gone, physically. The pain of losing so much loved ones so suddenly still haunts us, most especially since two of our family members, my Lola Lily and my cousin, remain missing. The stories and images will never be forgotten.

When something so overwhelming happens to a person, one would ask, “Why, God?” And I have been asking this question for quite some time now. Little did I know that the last time I was with Lola on November 2, 2013, she already gave us the verse to cling to during these trying times—

(Jeremiah 29:11) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

With the risk of sounding preachy, I just wanted to share this. We may not know why this happened to us. We may not know why everything was taken away, why good people had to die, and why our land was ravished by the water. With this ignorance and this darkness, we tend to act out, regress, go downhill, let ourselves go, and become reckless, but really, we must not.

I have been reminded over and over again that what we should trust in the Lord, with all our heart, with all our mind, and all our soul. Admittedly, it is easier to succumb into the darkness rather than climb towards the light, but fighting towards the light will surely bring forth freedom from the pain and suffering, and give us strength and ultimately, hope.

Hope. I still saw hope in the smile of a child despite her telling me last Christmas morning that she lost both her parents and brother. I still saw hope in our neighbors who helped each other cut the tarpaulin provided by UNHCR to protect them from the heavy rains.

Of course there is an overwhelming feeling of desperation, frustration, and resignation, most especially to those who literally lost everything. But there is undoubtedly more than a glimmer of hope in the people of Tacloban. Even I can’t wait for the new Tacloban to rise. God willing, it would be far better than what it used to be.

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