People are boggled with so many questions that could hardly find apt answers. The various incidents that hit our lives, our communities and our nation had brought more questions than answers that we had long been in search for. We find varied meanings in everything that happened as we reflect and ponder for the message that come to us. The different meanings could be due to our individual differences, the varied backgrounds that we have and the experiences that we have gone through that affect our views and perceptions of things.
We hear various tales and experiences in our encounter with Pope Francis who courageously fulfilled his mission to visit our region and dwell, albeit fleetingly, with us, the victims who survived super typhoon Yolanda. The tropical storm had been forecasted as coming to the region in time with the Papal visit. All preparations had factored in the occurrence of a heavy downpour, strong stormy winds and a cold breeze that could put pilgrims and all those who would go out to meet and witness Pope Francis in person, sick.
It was the weather forecast that alerted organizers and pilgrims to be prepared with raincoats as umbrellas are banned to rid obstructions that would cover the view of Pope Francis. There were hospitals and clinics at the Tacloban Airport where the Papal Mass was set to be held. The makeshift altar, choir riser and media bleacher were erected to serve the purposes for which such structures were built.
There too were steel structures to elevate huge speakers of the sound system that served entire activities in the area that culminated in the celebration of the Papal Mass. But more than the functionality, structural soundness and safety may have been overlooked in the preparations. For over a year since super typhoon Yolanda struck us to ground zero, it came into every survivor’s consciousness that structures must be built structurally strong to withstand typhoons. It is unfortunate that people may have not given ample consideration as to strength and safety in the structures at the Papal Mass area.
The lapses in the preparation caused problems that pilgrims patiently endured as part of the ordeal and sacrifice. Some areas outside of the concrete pavement on the airport apron, portions that were muddy and could not allow pilgrims to stand on, much more sit, squat or lie on, were unmindfully included as part of the quadrants, by whoever were tasked for that physical planning and preparation.
There too were people who suffered illnesses due to the cold downpour that soaked their bodies for hours, but could not be conducted out of the area due to strict policies that do not even allow ambulances from leaving the area even with enough time until the arrival of the aircraft where Pope Francis was.
And all ended in that tragic accident that crushed to death a young volunteer for the Papal Visit, a worker of the Catholic Relief Service, due to the collapse of a steel scaffolding that could not withstand the onslaught of strong winds as typhoon Amang hit the area. The bereaved father displayed his faith when he told Pope Francis that his only child Kristel died a meaningful death. True enough, the meaning of that death is in people as the dictionary would only give us its definition.
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