CRISTY Diomaro-Gallamo, a 48-year-old teacher of special children, recalled that before Super Typhoon Yolanda struck on November 8, the teachers and students were busy preparing for the mayor’s cup tournament on November 6 to 8.
“Our students were playing badminton, chess and baketball and cheer dancing. The parents were busy preparing costumes and uniforms of the athletes certain,” she recalled before officials of the Department of Education in Manila.
“Personally, it was a busy week for me as I had to facilitate the convocation day organized by my Grade 4 students as an English requirement for the second grading period for presentation on November 5 three days before Yolanda made landfall.”
But she said because of the announcement of signal number 4 in the province, classes had been suspended for November 7 and 8.
“After I made some preparation the night before Yolanda struck Tacloban, I took my black backpack and put all my important personal valuables and gadgets along with rechargeable lamp, rosary, crucifix and my small tumbler [with an image of Santo Nino]. I was all alone in my apartment because my nephew, who is my companion at home, went home to his father for the sem-break,” she said.
The Infant Jesus (Santo Niño) is the patron saint of Tacloban City.
Cristy said she did not evacuate because she was confident that the house was so sturdy enough and had a second floor. Then the strong winds came that Friday morning forced her to wake up fearfully.
“I immediately got online and shouted out at Facebook “spare us Lord, the wind is so strong. Mama Mary please help us.”
When Yolanda finally landed, loud angry wind and rampaging waters came into the front door rising up to the first floor. Then her windows broke and she worried about the small shanty houses in the neighborhood.
“I prayed hard that whatever happens I am ready to go asking for mercy and forgiveness. I was able to pray the holy rosary more than ten times sitting alone on the last few steps of the stairs. Then everything quieted down,” she said.
At around 11 a.m. she saw the total devastation with big and small houses totally wrecked in an apocalyptic fashion of the movies, bit this time everything was very real, she said.
“It was so traumatic. Everything changed at a click of a finger and a wink of an eye,” she said.
Though it’s not easy, she is now again ready to take up the challenges and dedicate her entire life serving the children.
“I won’t give up. I have to stand. I will go back to teaching, gather the children so that they can start anew. They need the education so that they will help recover, rebuild and restore Tacloban City back to its glow in the map. But this would be possible only when I know that I have personally recovered from the catastrophe,” Cristy said.
“At the moment, I am still on the denial stage because I evacuated the place but once I start accepting reality, then I will take my backpack and ride a bus to Tacloban for the challenge facing my students with brave hearts and determination and to continue with burning passion as a teacher,” she added.
When her boss, Education Secretary Armin Luistro gave her a hug, “it gave me strength and inspiration to move on and to take the challenge for the next generation,” Cristy said.
Then she concluded: “If God is all you have, then you have all you need.”