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The aftermath as groundwork for re-growth

When Typhoon Sendong shrieked across Cagayan de Oro City in December 2011, it triggered a mammoth flashflood that wiped out everything on its path. In the aftermath, thousands became homeless and about a thousand were killed.

I was spared, having taken refuge earlier in an adjacent town. But a few months later, an inner Sendong would devastate my own life. The inner dislocation that began as a spirit-beclouding weariness became midlife emergency, vicarious trauma, a burning-out.

Ironically, the decade before my unraveling was marked by a loamy richness in my work from which other endeavors have sprung.

Over a decade, I have written narratives of homegrown activists protesting corporate mining and illegal logging, internally displaced persons, child soldiers, fisher folks, farmers advocating land reforms, indigenous peoples claiming ancestral domains. .

In 2002, complementary to this reportage, I co-founded the group Mindanao Women Writers (MinWoW), responding to issues of safety, well-being and gender rights in the context of armed conflicts on the island. We made milestones in connecting communities and communicators through trainings on gender-sensitive conflict reportage as empowering tool for engaging communities.

I met Magdalena Suhat and Rosalinda Bantilan and many other wisewomen, while co-managing “Women Making Air Waves for Peace”, MinWoW’s partnership project with Isis International-Manila, in digital radio production.

Through the years, we documented grassroots peace initiatives, always mindful of women’s contributions in the processes. But such is the paradox: peace fronts are not conflict-free nor violence-proofed environments. In this quotidian turbulence, I lost my inner balance.

But the word, “aftermath”, comes from “ a second mowing,” a second crop after the first harvest. In that sense, I am re-affirming the present as an aftermath, as groundwork for re-growth.

At the crossroads to recovery, I have returned to World Pulse, finding solitude and connections, as I read its stories amid the din of internet cafes where I access the internet.

Now, as I re-configure the possibilities, I have asked myself: what are my constant allegiances?

I continue to believe in truth-weaving by stories. But I vow to stitch together the discontinuities in my work and accept support to repair MinWoW’s worklooms. I keep to mind now that the warp of self-care interlaces with the weft of care-giving for others. I will nurture a more positive wakefulness, bearing witness with equal courage to the world’s wonders as well as to injustices against women and the environment.

In December last year, on the anniversary of Sendong’s wrath, a mango tree, to which more than 50 people have clung during the disaster, was declared as Memorial to nature’s life-saving power and human resilience.

My voice joins the VOF chorus, in the same spirit that the mango tree is memorialized: my voice a paean to World Pulse’s life-saving qualities and my own resilience. For World Pulse is the sheltering tree that is also a lifeline in my recovery from catastrophe, a meeting-place where I keep the rendezvous with that compassionate global community of womankind.

Comments

Taha Mirani's picture

Power to you

Dear Libudsuroy,

Brilliant piece. Your writing style is amazing. Love it.

More power to your pen.

Love

Taha Mirani

libudsuroy's picture

Taha, I appreciate you a lot

Taha, I appreciate you a lot as one of my constant readers. Count me in also as your sister across the globe, who is drawn more and more into your faraway world through your stories. I hope that creativity will always be your souldfood on your journey to selfhood.

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Very inspiring post dear libudsuroy.

Keep pushing forward and your dream would come true.

Regards
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

Paulina Lawsin's picture

Yahoo! Beautifully written

Yahoo! Beautifully written piece. If writing and connecting voices is your nature, your keyboard will lead you to a place where women share their stories, affirm each other and create a resounding call for transformation. Great to read you here.

libudsuroy's picture

Yehey! A kababayan, at last,

Yehey! A kababayan, at last, supports me here, believes I am lucid even as I dream out loud and big. Difficult to follow the "matuwid na daan" that you have paved here in WP. But I am on my way, though my pace is turtle-like on a winding lane :)

From the fringes of Mindanao,

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Cassady's picture

Beautiful!

Your piece is beautifully written, with such striking imagery. Your writing ties the personal to the big picture in a very evocative way. I can picture this memorial mango tree, having saved so many lives with its strength. Your paragraph about "aftermath" reminds me of the seeds that only germinate after exposure to fire, after it seems like all else was destroyed. From destruction comes an opportunity for rebirth!

Thank you for sharing

Cassady
www.worldschildren.org

libudsuroy's picture

Thank you very much for

Thank you very much for appreciating my personal account. I have visited your organization's website and your World Pulse journal and found out that your network extends to my country. Where are your work sites or areas in the Philippines? Is there a possibility I can write an advocacy story for you?

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Chinemu's picture

Glued

I got glued to your piece, you write with so much passion such that I began to picture myself in your town, I pictured the mango tree, This piece reminds me of the many times my body gave up but my soul would push me to rise and pick the tatters and move again, great inspiration it is.

Keep your fire burning

libudsuroy's picture

Thank you, dear sister for

Thank you, dear sister for your kind words. I am inspired to inspire others through my writings!

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

j3ssm3ss's picture

Wow!

A genuinely moving and engaging piece, and I would totally agree with Cassady's comments. You have a very accomplished style - vivid, sharp, full of intelligent literary devices yet not at all overblown. I particularly liked your use of the Sendong typhoon as an analogy for your own internal, overwhelming devastation, very apt.

I also think its very effective that the account links the external context of your journey with your internal emotional narrative, and I think you've fulfilled the brief for this assignment very effectively. While you speak honestly and avoid over-sentimentality, it also contains a clearly positive and motivating message.

It is only recently that I become aware of issues affecting your region, as a friend also worked in that area as part of a conflict mediation/peace building initiative recently. Your piece has given real colour to her descriptions and has really prompted me to find out more.

Thank you Libudsuroy!

libudsuroy's picture

Thank you very much, dear

Thank you very much, dear sister for taking time to read my work and to tell me what you saw within the small island of my words. Indeed, World Pulse's VOF has given me the space to work things out within.

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Rebecca R's picture

The connection!

You know, libudsuroy, I am convinced you are my twin sister in another country. It is amazing how many times I read your work and nod as I mutter "yes. yes" like a little mad woman.

Does MinWoW have a website? Or a social media presence?

I am actually trying to create something similar here in Uganda, to create a more fierce awareness of gender sensitiveness in reporting and in arts. I think you would be a good person to talk to as I develop the idea further.

P.S I can relate to this space you are talking about, where it is is difficult to write. I hope that World Pulse helps you work things out and return to yourself, your vision and your passions.

libudsuroy's picture

Thank you very much, dear

Thank you very much, dear sister! We took down our organization's blog because it kept on bogging down, always hacked. Since, mid-last year when I got ill, no one else is womanning the organization. Probably a web-based organization is more viable now as a few of us have migrated to other islands seeking for higher education and working in the mainstream. We need to re-frame our structure, revise our vision and goals. I can share with you our brochure.

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Leigh Anne Kranz's picture

You are not alone.

Lina,

I have unraveled, in my own way, too. Self-care, and healing, are necessary in order to persevere in this work.

Your words touch me.

I am humbled by all that you have done so far.

LA

libudsuroy's picture

Thanks!

Dear Leigh Anne,
Thanks so much for reminding me that I am not alone. That there are others who are willing to acknowledge publicly the challenges life has presented to them. Thanks so much for reminding me what it takes to move on and thrive as a human being who has chosen writing as a life pathway.

My gratitude,
libudsuroy/Lina

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

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