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Payaso: Remembering Xangsane

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It was September 29, 2006—almost four years to this day. At 6:00 a.m., I woke to the sound of thunder and winds brought about by Typhoon Xangsane. Here in the Philippines, typhoons are an ordinary occurrence and so, easily, I fell back to sleep, hoping to enjoy the unexpected day-off in the warmth of my small apartment.

An hour later, the rhythm of heavy rainfall had been joined outside by roofs flying off makeshift homes and, indoors, by the noise of something breaking. Half-asleep, I got up, only to find all my furniture floating in knee-deep flood waters. Xangsane had invaded my home.

Barefoot and still in sleepwear, I tried to get out of the apartment but the door knob came off in my hand. The water was rising fast, up to my waist now.

Frantically, I tried to contact friends, co-workers, the local government, the fire department, and practically everyone else in my phone book. No one came.

An Unusual Rescuer
As I called for help, I heard a group of people outside my home, trying to break the door down with a rusty pipe.

When they finally got in, someone from the motley crew came up to me. Seeing my dazed expression, he told me to hurry and take what I needed. Laptop, mobile phone, and wallet in hand, I took this stranger’s arm and we swam-walked to safety.

As I found out later, the rescue group was a mobile circus act that moved from town to town entertaining the locals. My champion worked as a clown or, in my native language, payaso. A man who made his living trying to make people laugh had saved my life.

I never saw him again.

Everyday Heroes
Just the other day, one of my favorite political bloggers posted a quote from American humorist Will Rogers, "We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." My Xangsane experience and the countless times I have seen ordinary folks, in the face of disaster, rising to the occasion prove this line wrong.

Indeed, the many stories on World Pulse are a clear testament to how women around the world, despite the challenges, strive to uplift themselves and the people around them. They show that heroism is not just about grand rescue missions. It is the small acts of kindness that count, when we stop thinking of ourselves and reach out to those in need.

I stumbled upon World Pulse by accident on Twitter. And I am delighted to find not only the wonderful comfort of being around kindred spirits but also the motivation to find the hero within myself. I hope to bring to others the same kind of inspiration that their life experiences and words of encouragement give me.

Like my payaso who rescued me and then, disappeared quietly into the storm, we can all try to be heroes every day. No applause required.

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Comments

dg.vegas's picture

:) beautifull post! very well

:) beautifull post! very well written and narrated! I have always been delighted by the spanish words in your country though i imagine occuoattion is no joke. Still I know and feel connected to your from a simple word: payaso. Bravo!

In lake'ch

aarsenal's picture

RE: :) beautifull post! very well

Hi, Diana! Thanks for commenting on my post. Indeed, the Philippines is a melting pot of cultures and I'm sure we share more than just a common language. Hope you will drop by my journal again soon. Cheers!

Anna

_______________________________________________________________________
Life is how you Design it.

aarsenal's picture

RE: :) beautifull post! very well

Hi, Diana! Thanks for commenting on my post. Indeed, the Philippines is a melting pot of cultures and I'm sure we share more than just a common language. Hope you will drop by my journal again soon. Cheers!

Anna

_______________________________________________________________________
Life is how you Design it.

Bhavya's picture

Well thought out and executed post

what happened to your house and valuables? What happened after the clown rescued you? I want to know more.

I appreciate the pictures and the extra tags

Hi, Bhavya! Thanks for commenting on my post.

I was able to save a few things but lost practically half of my possessions--clothes, books, food, furniture, etc. I have always been a minimalist, though, and so, losing those things (except for my precious books!) did not traumatize me all that much, I suppose. (Besides, what else can one do after that kind of event but to get up, dust yourself off, and move forward, right?)

What really saddened me, though, was what caused that great flood in the first place. My home was situated between Laguna Bay and the foot of Makiling, one of the most gorgeous mountains in the Philippines. (You can see some wonderful pictures on Google Images: http://goo.gl/EjoW.) Because of some logging activity and due to urbanization, as well, boulders the size of houses rolled down, causing some nearby water formations to overflow. I have since moved from my old residence but I've heard that flash floods have become commonplace in that area.

Unfortunately, that was the first and last time I saw my rescuer and his companions. In all the commotion, I wasn't even able to catch his name but you can be sure that he will always be in my prayers.

Thanks again for dropping by my journal. Cheers!

Anna

_______________________________________________________________________
Life is how you Design it.

pheebsabroad's picture

WOW

What an amazing story, and you have such a clear voice! I was very moved by your story there are so many elements which have an international impact it is amazing.

Pheobe

aarsenal's picture

RE: WOW

Thanks for commenting on my post, Pheobe! I hope to get to read some of your stuff soon, too. Cheers!

Anna

_______________________________________________________________________
Life is how you Design it.

Aida Dervishi's picture

Dear Ana, are those small

Dear Ana,

are those small acts of kindness that you describe that silently make the difference.

Great post!
Regards,
Aida

aarsenal's picture

Small acts of kindness

Hi, Aida! Thanks for commenting on my post. At the end of the day, it's those little things that count, right? Sort of like crowdsourcing kindness, eh? LOL

Cheers!

Anna

_______________________________________________________________________
Life is how you Design it.

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