Sunday, August 26, 2012

Miss Kagay-an 2012 #MissKagayan2012 #KagayanFestival2012

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Tonight, I watched the live telecast of Miss Kagay-an 2012 on channel 45. I would have watched it on location but I have tons of work tonight. So I stayed home. Thanks to one of the sponsors for airing it live. 

So far, here are the results for special awards..

Globe Texter's Choice: Candidate# #11 Greanne Trisha Mendoza
Best in Long Gown: Candidate# 2 Sidney Taboclaon
Miss Goldilocks: Candidate #11 Greanne Trisha Mendoza
Miss Natasha: Candidate #6 Juriel Valledor
Belo Beauty of the Evening: Candidate # 3 Miss Elaine Ghan
Miss Photogenic: Candidate #3 Miss Elaine Ghan
Best in Mags Casual Wear: Candidate# 2 Sidney Taboclaon
Miss Kapuso: Candidate #3 Miss Elaine Ghan
Samantha's Choice: Candidate # 2 Sidney Taboclaon
Miss Gardens of Malasag: Candidate #8 Emie Lou Yamba
Miss Friendship: Candidate # 3 Miss Elaine Ghan
Darling of the Press: Candidate #11 Greanne Trisha Mendoza
Miss Samsung: Candidate # 11 Greanne Trisha Mendoza
Best in Talent: Candidate #9 Roxinne Monterde
Best in Swimsuit: Candidate #4 Laurice Inosa
Miss Avon: Candidate #4 Laurice Inosa
Miss Primavera: Candidate #11 Greanne Trisha Mendoza
Miss Ever Bilena: Candidate #7 Leslie Ghan
Miss Le Rouge: Candidate #2 Sidney Taboclaon
Miss Pink Spa: Candidate #2 Sidney Taboclaon
Miss Nature Spring: Candidate #4 Laurice Inosa

.....and the winners are...

3rd Runner Up: Candidate # 3 Miss Elaine Ghan
2nd Runner Up: Candidate # 7 Leslie Ghan
1st Runner Up: Candidate #8 Emie Lou Yamba
Miss Tourism: Candidate #1 Lovely Jane Estampa
Miss Kagay-an 2012: Candidate # 11 Greanne Trisha Mendoza

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17, 2012 PCSO Lotto Results

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Super Lotto 6/49
Jackpot Prize: Php 20,337,350.40
1 Winner

Swertres 3 Digit
11:00 am: 0-3-0
4:00 pm: 0-3-7
9:00 pm: 2-4-2

Two Digit EZ2 Lotto
11am: 22-22
4pm: 16-21
9pm: 16-28

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mutya Hong Butuan 2012

Last month, Butuan City celebrated its City Fiesta, and with that, the annual Mutya Hong Butuan, as its annual highlight, was beautifully prepared. Mutya Hong Butuan 2012 , Ms. Tourism and Balangay Festival Princess were crowned last May 17, 2012.

The new Mutya Hong Butuan 2012, Patricia Cumba Ong. Mutya Hong Butuan Tourism, Carla Exclamador also bagged the best in swimsuit plus other awards from the sponsors. Lastly, Mutya Hong Butuan Festival Princess was Jeslie Mae Piquero. Congratulations, ladies..

Here are some videos related to the said pageant. I congratulate the organizers for a job well done.

The first video happened on May 6, 2012 at the Father Saturnino Urios GYM in Butuan City. This event was dubbed as Fashion Buffet, featuring designers Benjie Manuel, Edgar Buyan and Frederick Peralta. Event Organizer: Eventology 8600 Videographyr : Ryan Ugalino Video Production Photography: Terra Nostra Images 

This second video was the Swimsuit competition:

And this last one was the Coronation Night, May 17, 2012 still at the Father Saturnino Urius Gymnasium.


June 16, 2012 PCSO Lotto Results

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Grand Lotto 6/55
Jackpot Prize of Php 89,742,830.40
No Winner

Lotto 6/42 Draw
Jackpot Prize: Php 24,002,949.60
No Winner

6D Six Digit

Swertres 3 Digit
11:00 am: 8-4-1
4:00 pm: 4-8-1
9:00 pm: 8-1-7

Two Digit EZ2 Lotto
11am: 29-27
4pm: 28-24
9pm: 03-30

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15, 2012 PCSO Lotto Results

Mega Lotto 6/45


Jackpot Prize: Php 67,152,445.20

1 Winner

Four Digit 4D


Swertres 3 Digit

11:00 am: 6-2-1

4:00 pm: 5-4-1

9:00 pm: 0-5-8

Two Digit EZ2 Lotto

11am: 07-11

4pm: 06-24

9pm: 26-24

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Break from Online Work: Blogging 101 Workshop Muna

Two weekends ago, specifically, May 19, 2012,  I joined a Blogging 101 workshop organized by the Cagayan de Oro Bloggers Inc., at MBox Business Center, Cruz Taal St. Cagayan de Oro City, and  I was really glad to have joined it because I actually learned so many tips and techniques from the discussions and sharing of the resource speakers as well as some of the participants. 

We had two vibrant speakers, Grace Maghanoy of and Venus Mabale of, who gave us not only their knowledge, but encouragements as well. 

And the members and officers of CDO Bloggers Inc., were there, in full force, so that the participants have more than enough help especially during the hands-on. Although I have already learned a few things about blogging, it was truly helpful for me to know more and reacquaint myself with terminologies that I have forgotten. Seriously, I forget things, lol..

Anyway, here's us, minus some participants who went home earlier..

Oh and before I forget, I would like to say that paying P 200 for this Blogging 101 workshop is truly worth the amount. Every participant left with new knowledge, gained friends and took home the wonderful freebies/giveaways; USB hubs from SUN Cellular and stickers and key-chains from

Plus a chance to win 1 year free hosting, courtesy of, and 1 year free domain registration courtesy of, who are also sponsors for this activity through a blogging contest where the participants have to blog about the CDO Bloggers Blogging 101 Workshop. This post, by the way, is my entry, and I deserve to win because I can make use of the free domain and hosting to prove to everyone that there is indeed money in blogging. In that way, many more people will be encouraged to join future blogging 101 workshops. Of course content and presentation is sponsored by

Thank you very much for this fruitful afternoon. It was not just a break from my online work, but rather, an investment for a lifetime of blogging...  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Face of Sendong Tragedy

TS Sendong's Face. The photo that has been used in most TS Sendong Campaigns.. Well, now the man holding his daughter's remains has been identified as Modesto "Dodong" Diam who held the lifeless body of his three year daughter the morning after Sendong ravaged Cagayan de Oro City...


Who would have thought that TS Sendong will happen? No one knew.. We all did not expect TS Sendong to change our lives the way it did..

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Losing Labs... on That Fateful Day: Lovette's Sendong Story

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Have you seen this cute dogie? Fellow blogger who I met during the Mindanao Bloggers Summit 2011 in Iligan City, Lovette, owns him, and so far, he is their lone casualty. But of course, Lovette's family, like all others, have experienced quite a nightmare during Sendong's never ceasing banters midnight of December 16 and dawn of December 17, 2011... and of course, the rest is history upon seeing its aftermath... 

About the dog: If in case anyone has found a dog that looks like him, do let the owner know.. For more background about the dog, and to read Lovette's Sendong story, go to the links below:

That Fateful Day: My Sendong Story (Part 1 of 2)

I would very much like to summarize everything here but I feel it is best if you read her experience through her blog...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tina Balala Bagares: "Just want to share the journal of my eldest daughter how she survived Sendong typhoon"...

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This was the first TS Sendong survivor story I have read, and this was shared at Facebook on the third week of December. It was the time that I wanted to write about my family's experience, but found that I couldn't. Not just yet.. But somehow, this story and the strength of this little girl, Keisha, after having written their experience, inspired me to write our own, and in fact, inspired me to collate all stories related with TS Sendong, thus this blog...
OUR BATTLE … It all started one night … December 16, all of us were joyful and extremely excited for what happened today and what will happen tomorrow. It was our last day of exams and on the next day it will be our Christmas party. Who would forget CHRISTMAS BREAK! They were wrapping gifts and as of me, I was busy planning my outfit. It wont be a party without an outfit right? Then on the middle of our joyous preparation, the lights went down. All were at fright but then in a while it came back and unseeingly mom was home. She prepared our so called ‘’Food-to-share’’. Then again the lights went off. Rain start pouring and we prayed it will come back. And yes it did. We were gathered in our sala and mom started telling us events that happened in her life and explaining to us the existence of heaven and hell. Well my little brother Ej didn’t understand the whole point of view so he fell asleep. And yes, they all did except for me. It was the end of a day for them and to me? It was not. I was busy texting with my friends then I was bored for quite some time. So I decided to watch the t.v. but there was no signal. It was all just BLANK. So I went to sleep. Got my bed, my pillow and who could forget my big yellow stuffed Pooh Bear. Then … I woke up by my mom’s voice. I checked my phone and it was 12:28 or something. I went down to the kitchen and GOSH my feet were wet! And I saw the water rising, raining was stomping and my mom waking up my siblings. Then I knew our life is at risk. My siblings woke up and still at shock. Then they started crying and panicking. I was there near the altar and a grab hold of St. Joseph and my phone. My dad went out, we all did. But we realized the water was too high and it’s rising fast. My mom was carrying Ej and they slipped! My tears start to fall because I realized we are in GREAT danger and the news we see on television? It was coming real to us and this isn’t a dream. My dad got Ej and John and he let them float in our couch. Obviously we can’t go out that way. We are freezing and yes the water was above our chest. HOW CAN WE SURVIVE?! Our life’s risk was at God. My mom went to the c.r and miraculously found a wood and bang! We heard the manhole open. We went there for it’s the only way to survive. And on our way, the big Mama Mary statue fell and we heard almost everything fell on water. We had nothing else to do but hope and pray. We were a family that night. We were nothing but soldiers fighting an enormous battle. Dad was our ladder to the manhole and my mom was the one who grabs us. What was the first thing in my mind? CAN WE EVEN MAKE IT?! Then first was Ej, John, Dessa and then I came next. I first hugged my dad and suddenly I was up on our dark, spooky attic. I was walking so that I could be close to my little brother holding St. Joseph. And in a second I was clinging to a wood on one hand and thinking if I can’t pull myself up I would drown. And I felt God, I remembered my Goal and so I did pull myself up and thank God I’m still alive. By that time on I was stronger. Then it was quiet. We were only hearing the sound of the water, the drops of the rain, and the sound of our breathing. My dad held us the statue of the Sacred Heart, its frame and some blankets to keep us warm. Then we prayed so hard that we only offer our life’s stake to His hands and will … Ate Mai, Ate Tin and I were texting our colleagues asking for help but no one replied. So we continued praying but then. The rain was pouring hard again and the water was rising. My mom asked dad to climb up but dad said he was too big to climb up. But mom insisted that she needs help in order for us to be on our rooftop. Then mom used the same wood to destroy our roof but it was too hard for a lady to do a job. And my dad realized how fatal the situation was. So he was up on his feet and quite some time we can climb on the roof. My siblings are crying then. But I didn’t because they needed me. So I led in praying again. My heart was beating and we were all freezing. Then it was time for us to go up the roof. Mom was first then Ej and Dessa. Honestly I was weak and I was scared that I don’t want to go up. But my dad pulled me and said that he’ll be there. So I went but then I slipped! I was weak but I can’t let myself fall to the water. So I crawled to mom and yes I was safe on the roof. We were up and john was up too. We were shivering because of the cold wind. I was about to lose my hope. Then I felt something in my pocket. It was my crystal Jesus and I gave it to mom and we started praying because I knew God is with me. My dad is saying sorry to my mom and as for me I was saying sorry too. It’s been quite some time that I wasn’t good. That moment was about faith, forgiveness, hope and pity. Pity because our neighbors are screaming for help and my tears fall because I know I can’t do anything. Then I remembered the people I interviewed in cala-cala. A place where there was a 80% chance that some of them might be dead. I was crying. I was in shock. I can’t do anything to help them but to pray. I thought of the little ones, the pregnant women, the hardworking men and the aged. I was lucky I was breathing to some of them; it’s the end of their life’s journey. After our prayer, the rain stopped and the water was slowly going down. It was dawn and the sky was starting to light up. We were back at the attic again and I got a text from my tita ella saying that they were at the same situation. We had nothing else to do but wait. Wait for a sign. Then I start giggling for some reason. December 17, the sun rose and the water subsided. My mom, my dad, ate Mai and ate Tin went down and started cleaning the place. But we were left in the attic. We had cookies and milk for breakfast. And miraculously our ref didn’t stumble upside down so it only means that our stack of food is still there. I thank God again. But the sad part remains. I was thinking of the things my parents worked hard for. The clothes and the rooms. The memories. Could this mean that we are leaving the house? Is this another beginning? I was depressed knowing those kinds of stuff. Then I saw the neighborhood. All were muddy and faces were at shock. There was crying and panicking. Then I heard that there were three people on our backyard fences and they were dead. The Saddest part was their love ones could be searching for them and they are missing for hours. For a moment I reflected. Our house was just messy but others they lost it. Our things wrecked to others it’s gone. Our clothes muddy to others it was gone too. To us it’s a new beginning to some it’s the end. We are blessed I can say, for we didn’t lost anyone because some are suffering for their dead worst is some are missing. Then I heard my dad saying that maybe anytime we would be off to lumbia so that we could rest. So it gave us a grin. We are hoping and waiting but then I knew it was hard to cross the thick mud in the road. So we went down and I was the first. Tears came down to my cheeks. The house was a total damaged and it was messy as I can imagine. But I stopped crying and went outside to see the dead and I did. I can’t take it so I went to see my room. When I was there, my eyes had bags of tears. My bed upside down, my books wet, my clothes full of mud and the floor was unexplainable. I was there in my room looking back at the memories I had in my room. I started crying again. Then I remembered my pooh because maybe it would make me feel better. So I wipe the tears off and went to mom’s room. Suddenly I saw the dresser, the bed and the cr totally dented beyond my imagination. Then I looked for my pooh. Earlier I said maybe if I see it, it would make me feel better. But it made me feel worse. It was wet and dirty. i started crying. I knew I can’t have it the next day because its too hard for it to be clean again. So I gave a hug and it was a goodbye and thanking it for the 14 years it was with me. It was time to go so we got dad’s big shirts and went outside to wait for the car to arrive. Yet the feeling outside was unbearable. There was a mountain of dirt that covered chow-chow (our car) and the pick-up car. And dobber (our dog)? We know he is dead inside his cage. A tragedy right? Then we were given food and water and the car arrived. Lucky I saved my purple bag and a charger. We passed the streets, homes and people. It was agonizing to see what result the flood gave. Every life was turned upside down. On our way we saw mommy 2’s car with auntie jane and tita chie. We transferred there and went off to lumbia. Yet the worst wasn’t seen yet. We passed the rotonda and we saw houses out of place. And the people? They were on the streets weeping. We passed the bridge and it was a terrible feeling seeing the house near the river washed away. We were in relief to be alive. We were soldiers in the night fighting a horrible battle. We were fighting to live. We were fighting for life. It was a battle our family will never forget. A battle where in our faith was tested and so was our trust. A battle that were beaten just by a matter of prayer. But that on we knew our greatest weapon is GOD. We had our second life and now it’s time to renew our ways. We confess and we will be forgiven. We pray and we were never alone. Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will be opened for you.” At present we are leaving at our grandmother. We are safe. Yet our minds and hearts are still weeping. Not only to our lose but to others who had worst. In this battle, faith was our sword and prayer was our shield. Together we are alive and now we dominated our battle. God was our master and he owns us. We knew we had a mission that’s why we still live. To do our mission we need to do it His way. The night of our battle is over and we were victorious but the battle to life is yet to begin. As a family we stand together towards this chapter and with God in us every battle is not that hard to tear us apart. The battle has ended we go in peace to love and serve our Master. Yours truly, Keisha ♥ ...

POST SENDONG: A psychosocial debriefing By: Franklin M. Quijano

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This has been shared at Facebook for quite some time and I just wanna share it here too. This is how the previous mayor of Iligan City shares his experience about Sendong.

For the past month, I failed to open my emails and the social network sites. Sendong took all my appetite to communicate to acquaintances, friends and loved ones in all the corners of the world.
I hope you understand such predicament. Mine is just one of the of the more than 100,000 stories but I decided to write my Sendong experience, all hoping that this will cast out all the trauma, phobia and those sad experiences. Call it psychosocial debriefing or anything but, like you, I also wish to live and claim the normal life, a life that I used to have before Sendong. I want to move on or become even better.
December 16, 2011 – Friday: Lunchtime – I, together with my wife – Titatit, went to Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, at the behest of Father Bernard Bigornia, to honor the invitation of friends to join their official start of the Christmas celebration. As we joined the Christmas activities at the Municipal Gym, it was typhoon signal number 1 but, at the time, there was no rain at all.
We started to experience rains at 4 pm. The lighting ceremony of the Christmas trees, there were scores of Christmas trees and lanterns from the different associations, barangays and groups, were delayed until past seven pm, when the rain stopped.
We joined the dinner at the residence of my classmate – Mayor Rommel and Sonia Arnado. The discussion with Mayor Rommel, Sonia, Father Dante, Col. Gubat and his wife, together with the other visitors were so spirited that we forgot about the time. It was at 11:00 pm when Titatit reminded me that it was time to go home.
After saying our goodbyes, we, I and Titatit, together with Richel Umel, who lives in Linamon, left. I drove in a bit of haste. Rain and gust as well as several fallen trees in the road, delayed our trip. We reached home at 11:40 pm.
The house where we live is 4 meters from the river bank and I usually park the car facing the river. I saw that water was high – about two feet from the brim of the river bank. I then repositioned my car by the fence of the house as I was uneasy of the flow of the river.
When we got inside the house, we checked on the kids. Surprisingly, they were in one room. Xerxes, Yuri and Xyra were still engaged in their conversation and were wide awake, while Ziggy and Yaeli were lying down, already asleep.
After changing clothes, we went into the usual routine – we sat in the sala and checked our mails. I checked the E-mails on yahoo, then the facebook. I failed to open all the messages in the facebook as Bong – my brother-in-law – honked the horn of his car repeatedly, conveying an emergency.
The word came from the mouth of Titatit, EMERGENCY. We hurriedly went to the room of the children and ordered them to change clothes, telling them of the current situation that was threatening our home, our lives. Floodwaters may rise higher.
I was only in my shorts, the only thing that caught my sight were my cellphones, wallet and the camera (the training in construction management and law – document things, NO, not picture-picture). I saw Yuri place the laptops at second the deck of the bunk of the kids at our room. The kids brought along their pillows and blankets, thinking that we were only finding a safer place to sleep in.
The kids were ready in no time at all, but we checked on all the household members. Uncle Lito was at his sleeping area. We had to wake him up. He was startled. He almost did not understand what we were talking about. We had to tell him of the sense of urgency.
We had to move, we had no time to argue. We simply followed our instinct.
Titatit took the car, Ziggy was with her. I took the FX – Xerxes, Yuri, Xyra and Yaeli were with me. As we withdrew from the house, I saw the water already at level of the tires of the car driven by Titatit. I saw her make several short forward and backward motions as she maneuvered. She was cautious of the water coming from the river bank.
We moved to the house of my father-in-law (which was about 500 meters upstream) but upon reaching the place, we saw that it was very dark and a tree fell on the wires. We decided to go the office at the highway. We saw my brother-in-law, Jing, and told him that they, as well as Daddy and Mommy, have to move to the office at the highway.
We rushed and reached the office, which is about 600 meters away from the river bank and about 900 meters from the Hinaplanon bridge. I had to go back after realizing that Jing was tasked to go fetch Mommy and Daddy and his kids have to be fetched.
Soon as I reached Jing’s house, water was already knee deep. I had to tell Aileen to that it was time to go with me and bring the kids. Aileen retorted by asking me to bring the kids as she was still gathering some of her things. I took Ryan and Jane to the FX but returned to their sala and, in a commanding tone, told Aileen that she had to come with us. I saw the container of rice and placed it in the FX. I was glad that Aileen conceded and as she went out the house, realized that water was rising and was already knee deep.
We all reached the office; we had so much sense of safety that we exchanged banters and teased Uncle Lito and apologized for the very demanding behavior of Titatit. I called my brother Bob, asking him to come and bring some dry clothes as we were all wet. He hesitated, verbalizing that his car may be low on fuel but stating that he would try. Bob also informed me that Cabaro, Upper Hinaplanon, Iligan City was all washed out by the floods. I asked if it was the whole Cabaro, he said that from the information he gathered, it was from the road up to the river bank.
I thought of the need to relay and/or respond to the upcoming condition through the social networks and all communication media – I called Dr. Charles Marquez. Dr. Marquez answered my call but apologized that he was in Manticao. At that point, I started feeling helpless.
The electricity was shut down not too long after. We got ready as the emergency lights went on. Seconds later water crept into the office, the place where we thought was safe. I saw lots of cellphones at the office tables so I placed all of them in my pocket. Almost at the same time neighbors: men, women children came rushing into the building, almost in a stampede, begging to be allowed in. One woman was begging to be allowed in for the sake of the children.
We had no time to argue. I told Titatit to move up to the roof deck of the office and take the children. I told her to see to it that everyone went to the end of the building so that the spiral stairway will be clear and unhampered so the flow and movement would be easier.
Daddy and I tried to manage the crowd asking the people to allow women and children first. Telling them to be patient and take their time, and told the crowd that men may move up soon as water was thigh deep.
It didn’t take long for the water to reach our thighs, I saw the contest of men, women, us included, moving up the spiral staircase.
The next scenes were even more disturbing, terrifying, distressing, horrifying, and traumatic. I have not seen such terror in my whole life. As we reached the roof deck, we saw cars, people, objects, houses carried away by water. The highway practically looked like a 30 meter wide river. Cars were not running but floating, all carried by the surge of water. A house hit our building but in seconds it was dismantled. The office of Nestor Ong was destroyed and carried by the flood waters in three creaking counts. The building we stood on seemed like an island as the water rose to more than 3 meters high.
As focused our flashlights to other structures, we saw men and women taking turns to destroy their roof so they would be able to move to the rooftop and escape the floodwaters.
We saw people, who, unfortunately, failing to reach the building that we sought refuge from, cling to coconut trees, electric posts and basically anything that was standing strong enough not to be carried by the current of the flood. We heard men, women, children, screaming on top of their lungs, seeking help and succor – “Tabang”!!!
If you were there, you would’ve heard lots of gory, horrifying and terrifying things. Several times we heard the howl of a dog followed by a shout for help. “Tabang!!!!!” they would shout in desperation. The sound of the rushing flood water was very distressing and ominous.
The faces of the 196 men, women and children in the roof deck could be painted in many mixed reactions. Relief, anxiety, disturbance, terror, trauma, shock, speechlessness, all mixed together. Some immediately prayed and sung songs from the heart for succor and for God to save and protect us. Others became forced viewers, like in a horror movie or, least, behaving like tourists. I mustered my strength to approach the clusters of people at the roof deck and begged to join in prayers. For more than four longest hours, everyone was praying. All of us: of different faiths and beliefs.
Meanwhile, I called my sister Gina in Cebu to call Mama and Papa, and my sister Amy in Bara-as to let them move to higher grounds maybe Carbide Village. I called my brother Dodong to do the same but he said he was sleepy and that everything is normal and undisturbed in Laville. Bob called me several times. First was when he told me that he tried to come to bring me dry clothes but he saw the head of floodwaters carry the vehicles as it was coming towards his direction. So he made an immediate U-turn. There was a race between the floodwaters and his vehicle. (The floodwaters reached the home of Bob 30 minutes after that race but it was just thigh deep.)
I recall receiving a text message from my household head - Brod Monching Jayson begging me for help as his son, Dodong, and daughter were at the rooftop of their house. I could not respond to Brod Monching who was confined at the hospital. It will only make him more dismayed and intensify his anxiety. I felt even more helpless and powerless. I did not have any tool to save the family of Brod Monching at their residence in Dau. Did not have a boat, a banca, even the cars were all drowned by floodwaters. I regret it, I did not even have a rope nor any safety equipment with me. I chose not respond to Brod Monching instead of giving him a hurting answer.
We thought it was the end of us.
I checked my family, checked the numbers, and found out: My son Xerxes and brother in law Jing was not with us. Tried to call them and found out that the phone of Xerxes was among those phones which I took from the office table and which I placed in my pocket before moving up the roof deck. Jing’s number could not be reached. I started asking everyone who last saw Xerxes (he was with us when we sought refuge in the building).
I just lost my 17 day old Aaron on October 25, 2011. I was sobbing. I could not afford to lose another member of the family. Everyone in the family was asking everyone where Xerxes was – we discovered that Xerxes went back to the residential compound and was sent for several errands, including knocking the doors and gates of neighbors to wake them up to flee the floodwaters. Bong, who was the last one to leave the residential compound, told us that Xerxes was left behind together with Jing. The information of Bong established a benchmark for us, but it was not at all that reassuring. Floodwaters were still rising. We had lots of unanswered questions.
The last conversation I had with Xerxes while the lights were still on; He was worried about Ma’am Buot whose house was downstream (in Bayug). Xerxes is a swimmer, what if he went to Bayug? What if he was not able to cling to anything or climb a tree?
Aileen started to ask Titatit if she was sure that Jing was in the compound, I started to ask Titatit repeatedly if she was sure that Xerxes was in the compound. I got her answer, according to Bong they are in the compound. It was not enough answer - I was so sad and disturbed.
Water was still up at the level at more than 3 meters flood mark, at the highway, the compound was lower, or so I thought. It was indescribable fear, terror and anxiety. I didn’t want to lose my son nor any member of the family.
Water was rising when, unexpectedly, Titatit asks my father-in-law what we would do if water rises some more that it will reach the roof deck. After several repetitions, my father-in-law was constrained to answer: there was nothing we could do! I did not know if it was an attempt to be funny or was seriously said, but he added, we connect all members of the family using the belt which will bring and bind everyone together. That was the spirit, no one was willing to give up anyone.
And the prayer went on. Some articulately prayed. Others were praying but were doing it while being stunned, startled and speechless. There was so much silence and less conversation – a lot of prayers were said and a lot of singing of songs of praise and lament to God.
At 3:45 am, December 17, 2011, the maximum of the flood mark was reached. Floodwaters started to recede.
At 4:20 am water was really going down.
At 5:00 am we all gathered to pray and thank God for saving us from the destructive flood (Sendong) which was ready to eat us all up. We prayed to God to give us strength and prepare us for whatever negative, adverse and horrendous news and outcome this calamity will bring to our lives. We prayed to God to comfort us and heal us with the balm of peace and rest and comfort our hearts as we prepare ourselves to face the adverse consequences and losses we face a result of the catastrophic event. We prayed and thanked God for reminding us one basic lesson in Christmas – we had lives which God gave; we had lives which God saved; God sent his beloved Son to give meaning to our lives. We lost all our belongings, except our lives and our faith. It was a constant reminder, that like Child Jesus who was born bare and with nothing on in a manger, all of us, as well, were stripped bare by Sendong. We praised God.
At past five am when the water subsided, Jing and Xerxes came. They were all wet and bare but alive. They were able to climb the boom of the 90-tonner crane after realizing that there was not much they could do to protect all the different sets of equipment at the residential compound or save anything from the floods. Titatit and I hugged and embraced Xerxes, all our children joined in. On December 17, 2011, we did not have the chance to go and attend the simbang gabi but we celebrated a lot. We celebrated life. We were ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Some afterthought and/or lessons learned:
A question became an angel: At 10:30 pm of December 16, 2011, while attending a Christmas party, my brother-in-law Bong Gerona called his classmate Annabelle Nabua to ask her whether she was in the internet loop. The answer was affirmative, so she asked her to look for the weather reports and see how many cm of rain was falling – the information was 15-25 cm. Bong quickly reacts, calls all the construction personnel in charge of the equipment to do all measures to protect and secure all the equipments. He goes to Dalipuga. At eleven he learns that rainfall was 180 cm., he goes home hurriedly, just in the nick of time when the water in the river banks was on the brim. He calls on all of us, including our neighbors to evacuate. We left our respective abodes and woke up all neighbors before the killer flood came. We had an easier time, so to say, because an important piece of information was made available to us, thanks to Annabelle. Had these kinds of information been shared to the populace of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and all the neighboring areas, a lot of lives would have been saved, senior citizens, women and children, at least, would have been advised to go to safer and secure grounds.
I later learned from a Higaonon friend, that the floods struck Old Rogongon at around 6 in the evening, December 16, and water subsided at past 8 in the evening. If there were early warning systems in our community as well as a 24 hour communication net, we would have had a 4-hour heads-up. It would have been better for us.
Sendong bred so many heroes and several thousand acts of heroism. Even opening a door or throwing a stone at a house became act an act of heroism. One can not enumerate all the heroic acts, but we must appreciate and celebrate such heroism, for all these things put together, with God guiding us and on our side, became an encouragement for us to move forward. Your smile - Your prayers, help and support are all heroic acts.
Yes, there was so much grief and mourning. Earlier in October, I grieved because of the loss and untimely demise of my 17 day old son, Aaron. Sendong brought me so much grief. I lost several second degree cousins and other relatives, among whom are: Mercy, Gingging, Erika, Madelyn and other nephews and nieces. I lost friends. I lost a lot of supporters who were on my side fighting the good fight of faith. I pray to God, surrender and entrust to Him all of the victims of Sendong. I promise to put all of them in my thoughts and learn put into action whatever lessons I have from the fateful event.
We lost all our belongings but there is no other recourse but to move forward and hope that we all learn from the lessons of Sendong; Even hoping that the family, the neighborhood, the community, the city, the region and the whole nation will all put our acts together.
Thank you all for the prayers, the support, the thought, the best wishes. God be praised for all the challenges and all the lessons to bring us all to rectitude.
Be blessed, be a blessing and God bless.
Wishing you all the best for the year.
Franklin Quijano

Our TS Sendong Experience (December 17, 2011) by Renato G. Tibon

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Below is a TS Sendong experience, a written testimony of a Sendong Survivor Renato G. Tibon, from Bangon Kagay-an and Kagayan Kaniadto Community Chat...

Our story, when our turn comes among survivors relating their own ordeal, always pales in comparison to the others for lack of impact or climactic finale. Listeners’ attention more often is riveted at stories of near-death experience or scope of destruction or accounts of survival holding on for dear life as raging waters buffeted, pummeled or swept them to far-off places or even towards open seas all the while contending with thirst, hunger and potentially poisonous snakes, themselves vying for positions on floating trees or logs they shared. As terrified and bewildered victims might be while looking for ways to climb up roof or trees or high-rise structures, the stories became so commonplace, they’re often lost in the cacophony of excitable voices competing for the audience’s attention. To anyone who cares to listen, we relate our frightful albeit familiar TS Sendong experience but we highlight more of our narrative on divine intervention, how God mercifully spared our lives giving us signs, seemingly insignificant at first, but which hit our consciousness full force in the light of the horrible tragedy which befell others not as fortunate. I wrote this story at the request of our CFC Pastoral Formation Director R. Ponte, a member of the IC, as a testimony of our harrowing experience which, although not emotionally engaging, the imprint of God’s saving act would not be lost on the reader.

We lived at Emily Homes, a subdivision astride two barangays, Macanhan and Balulang. Our one-storey house is located along the river banks, about 150 meters from the edge of the waters, a little bit elevated than our nearest neighbours. During the previous flood in 2009, waters from Cagayan River rose with the high tide, but even with the rush of floodwaters coming from the hills at the west side which we normally experienced during heavy downpour at the entrance gates, the highest level never reached our portals. Thus, even as warnings were aired on TV and on radio of the coming typhoon bearing signal number 2, like most Kagay-anons, we took the news lightly and slept our head off, blackout notwithstanding, unaware that even as early in the afternoon of that fateful December 16th, waters have risen alarmingly and that others who correctly interpreted the signs of impending disaster have already left their homes.

Ever since I and my wife joined CFC, I became prayerful and recited the rosary after every ACTS, a formulaic prayer method taught by the community, every morning and in the evenings even when I slept early on and have to wake up to say my prayers at 12 midnight. But nothing prepared me for the shock of my life, when, awaken by the noise coming from my daughter’s adjacent house, I stepped out with the waters already ankle-deep. I roused all my already sound-asleep family members, my wife, eldest grandson, youngest son and his wife next to our 5-month granddaughter, and made out for the door, already heavy with the current pushing it inward, carrying only an umbrella I plucked on our way out, 3 jackets (thankfully clustered over a hanger) and, as an after-thought by my son, one box of diapers. We hopped over the hood of our car, onto the side railings, straining against the tough clotheslines which I managed to untie, pushed up my son’s wife first up the roof, then the baby, followed by my wife, my grandson, then me clambering up with my son at the heels. All the while, raging waters, coming from every direction, terrifying in their noise and rush, were closing in on us, waist deep, then neck deep and even as we stepped on the roof, the waters kept on chasing us as we crawled and reached the topmost, our final sanctuary. Then disregarding my own safety, I looked over our neighbour’s house and called out for my daughter and her husband carrying two of our grandchildren. It was pitched dark, broken here and there by flashlights beamed by my son-in-law, I couldn’t see well in the absence of my eyeglasses which I left on our bed. They shouted back being safe and sound and so we decided we only had to deal with our own nightmare.

My heart was pounding hard (I was momentarily distracted by the possibility I could have a heart attack anytime), I could not feel breathing through my nose but as we settled on the roof’s edges, all shaken and shivering with the howling winds, totally drenched with the rains not letting up, the noisy waters lapping at our feet threatening to dislodge us, we managed to say our prayers beginning with the Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and Glory Be and then Hail Marys over and over and over, turning our fate to God and asking Mama Mary’s intercession. Even with my deep faith and prayer practice, no other prayer entered my thoughts except the Hail Marys which we let up only when the rains stopped, the winds died down and the waters almost unmoving having reached its peak a few feet from where we sat. The umbrella we brought served to cover our 'apo' while we changed her wet clothes and covered her body with the diapers. We couldn't be more grateful at the foresight of our son. We used the jackets as cover against the rain and only after it ceased that we put them on to generate heat from our bodies. We kept still until 3:30am when our neighbour noticed the water going down, painfully slow but certainly receding. We gave praise and thanks to God loudly after which, we waited out until morning came when we can see the reassuring sharp tips of our fence, the windows of our neighbors’ houses and the rooftop of our car which we thought was carried by the strong current. During this interlude, I never questioned nor asked God why or how come we were dealt with this tragedy. I kept still, remembering His exhortation and accepted my lot even as I begin to realize others may not be as, well, lucky. Looking back, I thought I could have prayed better, but my singular and commanding voice as I directed my family out and onto the roof, then leading them to prayer were all they needed as we said together, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen”. The thought of perishing never crossed our minds. Perhaps, it was the certainty of God delivering us and our faith holding on that even in the face of sure death, we could be at peace within ourselves.

As soon as the water was knee-deep, my son (who, at the height of the flood swam across to help transfer our grandchildren to higher rooftops) and son-in-law went down from their location, walked across the muddy street and went inside our respective homes to assess the damage. True enough, my son reported there was mayhem as everything turned upside down inside the house, full of thick mud with water still gushing out. As soon as he was able to push the door, my son saw the first sign that Mama Mary had intervened: the rosary which I used every day became the first visible item which came out from the mud at the base of the front door. He called my attention to it and I have to ask myself, where could the other two rosary beads I hung with it at the foot of the altar be? They were never found. Of all the other tiny things that compete in racing out of the house, the blue one won! That was the first miracle. Then disregarding the loud protests of my children because of the slippery GI sheets, I too went down although I couldn’t get far from the front door because of the debris and mud all around us. When the door could finally be pushed allowing for entry, I looked around the house looking for my glasses, which thankfully was covered by a pillow and moved only a few inches over our bed and also for my wife’s bag which contained many of her smaller earthly treasures including the Hillfiger watch recently given her for 10-year loyal service to the company we were representing. As I came out of the room, I noticed and was amazed at the sight of our altar in the sala (installed at the center of the main post leading to the uppermost portion of the roof where we sat) still intact together with the image of Our Lady of the Rosary and statue of the Holy family practically unmoved! Then, shivers went up my spine as I saw the Crucifix, made of lightweight ceramics lying on the floor just under the altar. Why it didn’t break nor float along with the other things inside the house nor covered by mud and just stayed face up at the foot of the altar would be among the paradoxes begging for explanations but which I attributed to God as signs. In fact it was the second sign that all along, He had been protecting us. I looked up and realized our location at the roof is almost exactly straight down the point where I picked the crucifix up. As I went out to wash up the Crucifix, it struck me also there could be no way we can toss up my 160-lb wife up the roof even in normal circumstances. My friends said it was adrenaline rush, but I believed there were forces other than our own who pushed us upward. With no clear foothold, nothing to hold onto or lift us up, the edges of the roof sheets projecting, it was sheer miracle no one was injured among the 6 of us nor fell down the murky waters. I thank God for all these divine manifestations which served to strengthen my faith in Him, my Creator, my Savior.

My wife soon after climbed down (using our neighbour’s wooden ladder) and went inside the house herself. Among the first things she noticed lying on the floor almost covered with mud was the NAB bible I was always using in my scriptural readings. Without much thought, she just wiped off the mud and opened the book which, to her surprise, was dry! That was the first report she made to me. I took it matter-of-factly and even went so far as washed the sides and took off the mud, causing the pages to become soggy. But the pages held on and when dried, we were able to still peel off the pages with nary a leaf missing. It came to my mind later that the bible became the third of those visible signs which demonstrated divine intervention in our deliverance.

As soon as the water settled just around our ankles, we allowed the other members of the family to climb down as worried relatives, relieved we were safe, waited for us at the subdivision’s gates. As we filed out, dragging our feet through thick mud, we viewed the destruction wrought by the flood among our neighbours, with collapsed walls and buildings and vehicles piled on top of another. Early on, dead bodies were pulled from inside the houses and news of close friends/neighbours being among those brought uneasiness and dread on the extent of damage brought by TS Sendong. We came out of the subdivision still shaken but not visibly worried. We were even half-amused at how we looked, appearing like zombies with our wet and muddy suits, dragging our sandals and unshod feet through mud and debris. Some kind souls offered coffee and dry clothes which I accepted, hands shaking but grateful for the attention. The full import of what happened to us and those who died, trapped inside their homes, 11 in our subdivision alone won’t hit us until we were settled in the house of my brother in law who offered his home as temporary shelter. Others, less fortunate than us, have to make do with the side streets and makeshift shelters in the absence of evacuation centers. As everyone of my family had taken showers and put on clean clothes (the first of many relief items we received), we gathered round, embraced each other, prayed in thanksgiving and then cried our hearts out for the longest time until every tear dried up. Perhaps, they were tears more of relief and gratitude, but to me, I cried not so much as we’re safe as the thought that many others could not be found or if found, the images were so grotesque and bizarre, I found myself at a loss for the proper words to describe them. In all probability, we could easily be among the victims, among those unidentifiable ones, thrown heartlessly in the dumps, rotten and filled with flies. That should be enough to make anyone rage at the utter injustice and inexplicability of the abandonment of all respect and dignity due every human being, regardless of their status. But God has other designs that we could only bend our knees in humility as we submit to His will. His ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts; that much I can understand clearly now. 
Many more tears followed but they were grief mitigated by so much outpouring of assistance, coming from concerned, well-meaning and generous individuals and groups, in cash and in kind which tided us over the days thereafter. We also found and rented a house which could accommodate all 10 of us, including my vacationing eldest daughter, who couldn’t stop crying at the thought, she could be grieving instead for all of us had not been God was so good, saving us. As we counted off, only our dog Mickey couldn’t howl present. She was our lone casualty.  
I know I am strong spiritually but I attended some of those debriefing seminars which followed, hoping to learn and impart the knowledge to my family and to others who may still be in need of managing stress-related symptoms so they could get on with the rest of their lives. I kept all these things in my heart and contemplated the song, Redeeming Love, which lyrics include the line, ‘like a river, like a fountain, like a cleansing flood’. Indeed, God’s love redeemed us and cleansed us and purified us. It was His will that I survived for reasons only He knows. Finding that will then, will be my lifelong mission, in my community, CFC. May God be praised.

A New Beginning...

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It has been more than a month that my family has been homeless. For the first time after Sendong, we went to mass together as a family,  to worship God being thankful that my parents, siblings and my very own daughter were spared when TS Sendong hit our home in Villa Nena 2, Balulang. After a month and a few days, my family now shows signs of "normalcy". At least that is what I have observed now, compared to that very day after they have experienced struggling with the water's currents that almost drowned them to death. That fateful date, December 17, 2011, which disrupted all activities and even sent my parents away from the very home they have built, where 36 years of hard earnings have been soaked in flood waters and covered in mud. But then, like what I said, everything is better now. Everything has already been prepared. The documents now in order, and in two weeks, we are all moving out of my pad here in Macasandig to transfer to that place on higher ground. Perhaps it had taken us all this late to move because we had to make sure everything is settled. Unlike others who immediately were able to transfer to their new place, we had to wait for documents to be ready, for lights and water to be installed, and the list is quite endless. Although this pad is home to me and my sister and daughter, for my parents, and two other siblings, this pad is merely their temporary shelter. It is in this little pad that transition had taken place. It is in this little pad that TS Sendong victims, now survivors, have learned to cope with so many other issues after Sendong struck our home. For awhile, because we don't live together anymore, it seemed that we were no longer one, which actually added to the adjustments that each of us had to go through. But like what I said, today, we have become a family again. 

After mass we went to Lim Ket Kai Center, shopped for shoes at this newly opened boutique which sells American shoes and sandals with really great discounts. Then we headed to Rai Rai Ken for dinner. We have not done that for quite some time. And especially not after Sendong ruined Christmas and the New Year for everyone. So today had been a breather for all of us... it has been rough the past month and the days that went by, but now, everything seems to be normal again. That is, minus the expenses of buying new things for the new house where they will transfer to. I, on the other hand, have also opted to transfer somewhere near them, in case another emergency might happen. It is always nice to be near your family. Because when Sendong struck our home in Balulang, my sister and I were here in Macasandig, and it was only in the morning that we were able to go to them for rescue, to which, they have already done themselves, as the water have already gone down when we arrived..

Here is my personal account of what transpired on December 16, 2011--- the night it all begun.  And as we face a new chapter of our lives, I am hoping that everyone else who have been victims of Sendong and its wrath will do so too... I know it will not be easy, but we just have to keep moving forward.

With this new beginning, I have also bought this new domain, to collate all TS Sendong related stories and experiences of friends, family, and hopefully everyone who has a story to tell  about how TS Sendong touched or devastated their lives. I do believe that by sharing one's story, there is a healing effect. And by reading someone's story, there is a lesson we learn. Do like Sendong Stories at Facebook for more updates and stories..

My family and I would like to thank all the people who helped us get through the rough times, and I posted their names HERE..