‘Odette’: for every tear, a victory

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‘Odette’: for every tear, a victory

Topic |  

IT IS NOT BECAUSE JUNIOR Is the Philippine president that we use the title of Marcos Sr’s book “For Every Tear, a Victory” as an Editorial title.

It just assumed a special meaning after hot-tempered “Odette” devastated the province like no other storm ever had in living memory- bringing a welter of tears in most Boholano homes that had to endure the full impact of a December super-howler.

Truly, man knows not of any such fury than that of the woman scorned. That is precisely the reason why Philippine typhoons are named after the female species. “Odette” starting on December 15, 2021, is one of those storms we do not want to remember but cannot forget.

Bohol was placed by PAGASA under a horrifying Signal No.4- and instead of hope (Pag-asa), flashbacks of the viciousness of a previous typhoon Yolanda that devastated Leyte came into view. In an insane fashion, “Odette” chose to linger longer than most storms do and covered a wider swath of Bohol territory, particularly in the northeastern part of Ubay in the second district than usual.


All in all, 111 Boholanos died despite our disaster preparedness having gone up already to high levels from past typhoon experiences.

We do not intend to be sadomasochists in this regard by remembering the sordid details that “Odette” brought to bear upon us. But recall we must if we are to relive the depths of our despair in that valley of tears and thus if only to appreciate the glory of recovery that transformed tears into a fountain of smiles, thereafter.

Man lives by food, water, gasoline and power daily- all four were absent in a large way for many weeks after “Odette”. Because the affected area was vast and huge- damage to property scaled to P2.7-Billion and 61,997 people (the size of a big town) were evacuated.

Ninety-nine percent of the gas stations were wrecked. So, people literally queued for up to 24 hours to get their gas rationing and government generators could hardly light up the offices due to the scarcity of fuel. Singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Hello darkness, my old friend” (from the “Sound of Silence”) was not funny at all. Only those who felt the ravages of a world war can relate to what “total darkness” means on a star-less,moon-less night as Bohol plunged into the equivalent of a dark age as our interconnection to the geothermal powers of Leyte was in ruins.

Like New York’s twin towers of the 9-11 infamy, two towering eight-story-high power structures were fell by “Odette’s” grave fury. Imagine having darkness and being homeless at the same time. No, you may not. But, well, that was the fate of 50,000 Boholanos whose homes were swept away by the storm.

When power and transportation go kaput, the usual casualty is the scarcity of food for the table. Long lines of people out to get water could be seen in many nooks of the province. All water refilling stations were shut down in the absence of power.  Practically there was little potable water for many of the over one million Boholanos. Groceries were jammed as early as six in the morning with hungry people, each one hankering to get his share of basic rice, sugar, canned goods and even fish and vegetables.


Worse, Bohol was isolated from the rest of the world, well, almost. Globe and Smartphone subscribers could not give or receive information to and from the outside universe. Remember, all these occurred while we were in the midst of the worst modern-day pandemic caused by Covid-19 and many still cowered in fear. Only the presence of “zombies” would have completed the scene for a full-length terrifying horror science fiction movie here.


The storm put an end to the often well-attended “Simbang Gabi”  welcome-Christmas masses at dawn. But through it all, most Boholanos still clung to their steadfast faith in One Almighty Who provided them the most revered “The Lord’s Prayer” that gave the context and full meaning of the words” Give us this day our DAILY BREAD- ” for it was foolhardy to even think of provisions for the next days, much less weeks or months, ahead.

For once, the effort to wear masks during the pandemic became a secondary concern to one’s main objective to just survive the day and live for another. From “White” one truly experienced instead a truly “Blue” Christmas. The ordeal lasted for months.  Thanks to the NGCP who worked feverishly such that by February 15, power was slowly restored back painfully but surely. But while Leyte power was made available again, no power could yet reach the homes since the electric posts were pulled down.

But, yes, we saw the “Bayanihan” spirit of the electric cooperatives and power providers from all over the entry sending their teams to help restore the damaged power lines. Name it, from the giant MERALCO to the smallest electric cooperative- all shouldered their share in addressing the problem of the hour.


Burning along the sidelines was the smoldering election campaign period leading to the May polls. The disaster was a real test of the leadership of Gov. Art Yap. It’s everyone’s knowledge now that his efforts fell short of the demands of the times. His was a case of “absence of crisis management” skills manning the disaster operations Covid-19 and “Odette” overlapping.

Instead, on nationwide TV, the governor sort of blackmailed the president- begging for national assistance and crying that Bohol would go full riot if no assistance was given and that the provincial government coffers were empty. Putting Boholanos to shame for having the “propensity to steal” in the midst of want, this was pure “insult to injury” if we saw one.


For this and other shortcomings, Yap was awarded the biggest losing margin by an incumbent governor in the annals of Bohol’s political history of 130,000, losing in all but in very few towns (and with small margins). It was a political massacre that people will long remember.

That classic triumph was one of the victories amid the tears of the Boholano populace- the repudiation of what they perceive as an inept and corrupt administration and the promise of better governance with the new one hopefully under governor Aris Aumentado.

The others include the P100 Million promised by former president Rodrigo Duterte to the heavily-affected towns of  CPG, Loboc, Ubay and Talibon with P25 Million per town for totally damaged houses. The National Housing Authority has pledged P700 million for shelter assistance to at least 87,000 affected households and the national grid interconnection of Bohol-Cebu is for completion by November 2023- to backstop any further power outage due to disasters, hopefully.

“Odette” may have punished much- but it brought special lessons for us all: the value of being “a brother’s keeper” in times of need, the value of working as a community in good and bad times and an unshaken belief in the cycle of life- that like Christ’s birth (Christmas), Death and Resurrection, – man’s lot is ruled in a parallel manner.

And that in all things, one day, the sun will shine after the rain.

And for every tear, a victory.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

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