Goodness in the worst of times

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The worst of times brings out what is good, if not the best, in us.

This idea is an old one – inspired by English novelist Charles Dickens when he wrote that classic, “Tale of Two Cities” more than 160 years ago.

We don’t have to look far and wide to realize the logic or the rhyme and reason of the contention.

The COVID-19 health catastrophe is a contemporary example of how civic-hearted people have extended collective or individual assistance to those in dire need.

The community pantries, the acts of volunteerism to offer errands for the elderly living alone and the selfless services of health and other frontliners have been among the sacrificial deeds we have witnessed since the pandemic crippled our global and national lives for almost two years now.

And another misfortune came on Dec. 17 – Typhoon Odette – which put to a halt the grind of life of millions of Filipinos, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao, including Negros Occidental as well as its southern towns and cities.

The devastation has been immense as manifested in destroyed infrastructure, flattened homes, flooded streets, toppled power and communication lines and age-old trees.

Worst, dozens of human lives were lost in the province.

The toll was just as depressing among the livestock and poultry population.

Many shorelines, plains and upland areas of southern Negros, along with crop lands, became a picture of gloom and despair.

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In Cauayan, my hometown, about 2,500 families from the mountains down to the coastlines – the longest among town in the province spanning more than 50 kms. from the northernmost barangay to the south – lost their homes.

Once more, the ill effects of the calamity drew government agencies, organizations and individuals together to manifest their concern and compassion for the victims of Odette’s fury.

Mayor John Rey Tabujara and other town officials have expressed their thanks to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office for immediate relief and related assistance.

Non-government organizations extended their help, too.

Among those offering assistance was Nestle Philippines, which handed food packs to the CHICKS local government units in a ceremony held in Cauayan on Jan. 7. The mayors of Cauayan, Hinoba-an, Ilog, Kabankalan and Sipalay attended the program to receive the donation for the LGUs, each getting about P1.2 million worth of products – including energy drink, milk, coffee, noodles and canned goods.

The goods for Candoni were distributed in a separate turnover.

Mayor Tabujara, in behalf of the beneficiaries, expressed gratefulness to Nestle represented in the ceremony by Corporate Affairs Head, Arlene Tan-Bantoto.

The total Nestle donation amounted to more than P7 million.

The LGU later augmented the food packs, which were distributed to worst hit areas in 12 barangays with rice and additional canned products.

A little earlier, the Chinese Filipino Business Club also distributed relief assistance to the typhoon victims.

A number of groups have, likewise, extended help, like the NOHS alumni and the Christ Community Fellowship network of Miss Universe 2010 runner-up Venus Raj, who personally came to deliver the assistance.

The Cauayan officials reiterated their thanks to those who have shown their concern to townsfolk, adding that they welcome more help to their relief and rehabilitation efforts.

A fine example, indeed, of goodness emerging from the worst of times.

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The road to recovery is long and arduous.

Take the case of power line restoration.

As of early this week, only about 50 percent of the power lines along the 50-km. highway network, the largest among municipalities in the region, are back in operation, one month after the calamity occurred.

The Cauayan LGU boom truck has been sole responsible for the restoration of fallen poles as the local electric cooperative has its hands apparently full with line trouble in other towns and cities in its service area.

Power lines off the main roads remain unconnected, just like PLDT services, town residents said.

Officials have expressed optimism that despite the setbacks, the people in the southern communities will be able to put their pieces back together with the hope that they can once more see a brighter light in a new day in their lives.

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Jesus said: I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. (John 8: 12) – NWI