“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”—Albert Camus
Peace, grace and love be with you during this most challenging Christmas season ever. Cultivating resilience in the face of life’s challenges is a proactive way of dealing with the unexpected events, the upsets, the pitfalls and successes in life, including how to cope with trauma, chronic pain, adversity and tragedy. In appreciating life’s blessings, we develop gratitude and thus become more resilient.
On Dec. 21 was our Girls Run For Breakfast Christmas breakfast party. We had not seen each other for months, and so the morning was very touching and full of love and laughter.
For our book exchange gift, I chose “The Seat of the Soul” by Gary Zukav. My learning is that to better understand internal motivations, we need to align life with the higher purpose of the soul-harmony, cooperation, sharing and reverence for life to create a paradigm shift. This causes a ripple effect throughout an individual’s life, ultimately throughout all of mankind.
That same day was the “rescue” flight of our daughter Jordan Valdes who has made her home in Siargao for the last six months. When I visited her there in October, it was very palpable how she had really taken to life on the island and how she had created her own loving community of surfers and artists, kindred to her. I was happy to see her settled and happy.
When Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) hit, there was zero digital service. We had no contact from Jordan and no word about her for the first 72 hours. We reached out to all possible sources of help, including an old friend in the Navy reserves. Since he is Manila-based, he also had to ask for help locally in Siargao but communication was difficult.
By sheer luck, there was a Navy team that had traveled by land from Butuan to Siargao and just before the cell signal was interrupted again, they received the message to please look for Jordan Valdes.
And by God’s grace, I received proof of life! I also got another message from her with the help of businessman Paul Hinlo. She sent word that she was going to stay on the island.
A daughter’s plans
Now, the next challenge was how to get her home somehow, but as it turns out my daughter had other plans. She turned down offers to be evacuated by the Navy and through Philippine Airlines’ commercial flight.
Still, her dad Dennis Valdes and brother Bryan Prieto flew in to convince her to come home. The provisions they brought were very welcome, but Jordan was still not coming home. No wind, no rain, no typhoon Odette nor a mother and a brother’s pleas could get her to leave. She was steadfast in her resolve to stay on the island to help rebuild, and that was that. There are so many virtues built into her resolve, I can’t decide which one I am proudest of: courage, resilience, loyalty, altruism, caring—oh, Jordan, when did you grow up!?
Flying to Siargao was a logistical nightmare. With the kindness of Alphaland Corp. chair Bobby Ongpin, who lent a Balesin plane, they brought a planeload of relief goods to Jordan for distribution. Alphaland Aviation Capt. Joey Bulaong and Andrew Castillo took the plane to Dumaguete for refueling and then to Siargao.
After their emotional reunion, they headed back another 3.5 hours later with a planeload of stranded peeps hoping to make it home for Christmas. We would like to thank Raymond Yap for loaning his satellite phone, JV Lim, Jolly Gomez and countless others who did so many things to make this all happen—all part of the village that tried to get Jordan back.
It was like that scene from “Saving Private Ryan” when Tom Hanks finally finds Matt Damon, and then being told that no, sorry, he doesn’t need saving. Indeed, a beautiful insight shared. May we all learn to give as selflessly as Jordan.
As she gives love to her beloved Siargao, we, her family, have been on the receiving end of love from our dearest Rufino family and friends who have stepped up to support us in more ways than I can count.
To Jordan, I continue to send all my love, pride and gratitude for who you are and continue to become. Merry Christmas, sweetie! I LOVE YOU, MOM!
Siargao was not the only area hit badly. The scope of the damage is catastrophic. SM Foundation, through its Operation Tulong Express program, the relief operations program that gives immediate assistance in the form of basic needs in times of disasters, provided tens of thousands of Kalinga (care and relief packs) consisting of rice, bottled water and other essentials to over 5,000 families in Butuan (Agusan del Norte), Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo.
SM Malls in Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan and Puerto Princesa provided temporary shelter to customers.
“Our malls always serve as temporary shelter during critical times to serve our communities’ needs. We are always ready to help those most vulnerable in the affected disaster areas and deploy our Operation Tulong Express outreach program immediately,” SM Supermalls president Steven T. Tan said.
Donations for the communities affected by Typhoon Odette will be accepted in 86 SM malls nationwide. All proceeds will go directly through the Philippine Red Cross, a partner of SM Cares and the SM Foundation.
In this season of love and generosity, I could not be prouder of my Assumption High School Batch ’81 for quickly responding to the call for help for the survivors of Typhoon Odette.
Despite the usual Christmas frenzy, Popsie Gamboa and Maripi Jalandoni immediately raised funds from our bighearted classmates, purchased truckloads of canned goods, sanitary napkins and tent sheeting, and delivered them to Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, of Tanging Yaman Foundation for speedy dispatch to the Visayas, particularly to the Dinagat Islands. It was an opportunity for our class to help. This holiday season, I rest knowing that the sisterhood of HS ’81 is alive and well.
Purpose and meaning
Learning from Zukav’s book, I believe everyone was put on this earth to heal their soul no matter their religious beliefs, thoughts or feelings. The answer to healing the soul and answering the “meaning of life” question, according to Zukav, is to infuse all of our activities with reverence, compassion, and trust so that our lives become joyful and fulfilled and have purpose and meaning. There are no endings, only new beginnings. Inhale love, exhale gratitude! INQFollow @seaprincess888 on Instagram.