Monday, November 5, 2007

Two Pinoys' Reactions
"What we learned from this disaster"

By Yong B. Chavez,

A family close to Beth Tagle - Leo and Juliet Pastor of Rancho Bernardo in San Diego - lost their beloved house to the fires. The Pastors are one of the original residents of Azucar Way, a once pristine hillside community where a ravenous fire leaped over a hill and consumed half a dozen houses in its wake.

"We were not able to visit them because [officials] won't let anyone in the area for security reasons. The smell of gas, smoke, and electric cables are still in the air and on the ground. They are still in shock and are not yet ready to face anyone. They are too hurt and devastated," Tagle wrote a few days after the Pastors' house burned down.

"They didn't have a chance to save anything except for some legal documents, everything else turned into ashes. It was 4 a.m. when a neighbor called them and woke them up to tell them they had to evacuate because a neighbor's house was already burning. They were in their pajamas so they panicked and just got some legal papers and drove their two cars out of there.

They were not able to save their wedding pictures nor the baby pictures of their two grownup children. Not her favorite dress nor favorite nightgown. All the memories of their almost 40 years of marriage are gone.

They are going to start all over again just like the first day they set foot in America more than 40 years ago."

From the Pastors' experience, Tagle, who's from Chino Hills, Calif., learned a valuable lesson:

"In just a moment, people's lives can change forever... Make everyday special, do not save anything that you like in your closet: Use it, wear it, or give it away. Let someone else be helped by it. Be always prepared by preparing ourselves spiritually so that we will always be ready to face God. We don't know when our time will come, who's next and what's next."


Jon dela Cruz resides in Northern California, far, far away from experiencing first-hand the treachery of the Santa Ana winds whose fury fanned and transported embers, resulting in one of Southern California's most fiery days, but he felt immediate kinship and sympathy for everyone whose lives were turned upside down by the blaze.

"What a difference a week makes. One previous Saturday most people from Southern California, especially San Diego area, did what they usually do on a lazy weekend: kicked-back, relaxed, ate breakfast with their families, walked the dog, jogged by the seaside, washed their cars, watched a movie.

The next weekend, many of them woke-up and saw what was once their sanctuary: charred ruins of their homes underneath smoldering pile of ashes.

To most, the only thing they could keep were the memories. On TV, as I watched the news, the only structure you can see standing on some of the burned-down homes were the fireplaces: a special part of the home to warm themselves on a chilly winter and bond with friends and families through - what else (as Pinoys) - karaoke sessions.

This is a grim reminder that material possessions can be taken from us in a flash.

Others may contend that these earthly possessions are theirs to keep for good. Not! These are just a loaners from up above.

To the ones whose homes were spared: We pray that the Lord continue to blanket them to safety.

To the families whose homes were burned to the ground: We pray to the Lord that they will be showered with comfort and relieve them with their pains, anxiety and sufferings. We pray that they will be given the strength as they start rebuilding their lives again."

[photo: LA]

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