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The Irony of Pain

The Irony of Pain
Houses that used to line up by the shore of Bgy. Malawig were swept away. What remains are trees that were equally devastated by Yolanda.

Houses that used to line up by the shore of Bgy. Malawig were swept away. What remains are trees that were equally devastated by Yolanda.

From afar, the storm-hit island of Barangay Malawig in Coron, Palawan is a picture of an apocalypse. Aboard a tiny boat, upon reaching the shore of the island, one can gain a better perspective of the kind of strength typhoon Yolanda had.


It was a moving canvass. The elements of nature took wrath to a higher degree and pounded the island to rubbles. A closer look will reveal walls and roofs of houses effortlessly peeled off, schools and stores hammered to pieces, and livelihoods mercilessly vanished to bits – an instant paralysis brought by Yolanda. At every turn, pain manifests itself on faces of people who survived destruction. Behind every fallen homes are layers of stories after stories, told and retold, but the gravity of pain is unchanged.

Emma Kapian, 30, one of the residents of Barangay Malawig had lost her twin. Her experience of survival can be traced in tracks of tears that languidly fall on her face upon recalling her experience. Her story was told many times over, and the freshness of pain can break the coldest of hearts.


It was seven in the night and storm surge swiftly seeped through the house of Emma. Her knees trembled as she hurriedly clutched her 3-day old twins on each arm to escape the rising ocean that was engulfing the island. Her husband, Senkaji, carried their eldest daughter Mary Jill, and salvaged a few household items and ran.

“Ang lakas ng hangin, at talagang hindi pa namin naranasan yung ganun kalakas na hangin, pero sabi ko, kahit hinang hina na ako kelangan talaga namin na manakbo pataas ng bundok kasi mabilis ang pagtaas ng tubig at malakas ang alon,” recalled Emma. With what was left of her energy, she, along with her husband and Mary Jill, climbed up a hill adjacent to their house. “Masakit po yung mga bato sa paa kapag nayayapakan, pero akyat pa din po kami,”she explained.

The winds and churning waves were smashing their bodies to the hill, but the Kapians steadily climbed barefoot until they found a safe spot. “Nung naramdaman na namin na medyo mataas na kami, eh huminto na kami,” relayed Senkaji. High above ground, the Kapians watched Yolanda whipped their house and the waves ruthlessly dragged their neighbours’ boats to the ocean. “Para kaming nanunuod lang na sirain mga bahay namin, pero wala kaming magawa, mahirap pang kalaban yung hangin,” said Emma.

The Agony of Emma

The strong wind stretches Emma’s energy to drain, but she had mustered a power to wrap her twins in blanket and attempted to keep them

The Kapians. Emma, Mary Jill and Senkaji, were among families who experienced the brunt of Yolanda. The couple lost the lives of their 3-day old twin amidst the height of Yolanda’s landfall to Bgy. Malawig.

The Kapians. Emma, Mary Jill and Senkaji, were among families who experienced the brunt of Yolanda. The couple lost the lives of their 3-day old twin amidst the height of Yolanda’s landfall to Bgy. Malawig.

from getting soaked in heavy rain. She held her twins dearly, and prayed that they pass through the storm unharmed.

The wind subsided.

As ocean water levelled to the ground, the magnitude of destruction showed its face. It was a crashing image of a pitiless devastation   brought by Yolanda. The whole of Malawig cried in mourning of lost houses, livelihoods and a community in general. It was as if someone had lifted the whole barangay to dizzying heights and dropped it at staggering speed and left whatever is erected to falter.

Emma was astonished. In her hands were hard, cold bodies of her twins. Their lips turned purple. She shook both babies and pressed her ear to their chests. Their heart had stopped beating. They were dead. “Para akong dinagukan ng malakas sa likod, hindi po ako nakaiyak kaagad,” said Emma in a trembling voice. She looked to Senkaji and Mary Jill, and broke down. “Tinignan ko ulit, baka buhay pa, pero matigas na sila pareho talaga, wala ng iyak,”she said crying.

As Emma looked down, she saw the enormity of damage caused to their barangay. Her emotions were torn, and her heart cried for the loss of her home, her livelihood and her children. Senkaji tightly embraced Mary Jill and Emma, as he himself shed tears. “Okay lang sana kung bahay lang at yung bangka ang nasira eh, pero ang pinakamasakit, nawala pa yung kambal namin,”said Senkaji, whose boat that he uses for fishing was destroyed as well.

“Ngayon po, kabuhayan namin wala na din, aasa na rin muna sa relief,” Senkaji added. They used to earn a maximum of 25,000 pesos a month from fishing, and have now been left without an option for income.

Undreamt of

In the aftermath of the storm, help and support floods barangay Malawig. The DSWD, Region IV-MiMaRoPa attends to the needs of typhoon-devastated barangay, and delivered relief to its residents. There were 160 households in the area and all of which were damaged if not swept away completely. Today, rehabilitation, debriefing of victims and rebuilding of houses are on-going.

Various organizations have converged to hasten the restoration of damaged houses and provide support to residents who have lost their livelihoods. The International Labor Organization had made their full assessment of Malawig and will implement an income-generating activity in order that residents are given a temporary livelihood.

Relief goods from the British Navy, DSWD, LGU of Coron and other non-government organizations had been distributed to all residents, and all efforts that have been done by far are progressive.

“Hindi po talaga kami makapaniwala na ganito ang aabutin namin, wala pa kaming ganitong karanasan nuon,”said Emma. “Pero wala naman magagawa kundi bumangon,” she added, in hope of rising from the catastrophe.


The other cheek

The island-strip of Malawig is situated off the farthest end of the northern coast of Palawan. Even after Yolanda had hit the barangay, the shoreline is as majestic and breathtaking as it ever was. If you stand by the shore and look over the sea, and away from the destruction caused by Yolanda, it becomes a refreshing beauty that seemingly cleanses the pain of looking at typhoon-pounded community of Malawig. The stark contrast is an apparent message of nature, that misery and beauty sits side by side to each other. A person can always turn around, to see vibrancy, to shake up a perspective and lead the eyes to a brighter, more pleasing blue beyond.

Emma buried her twin under her hut. Her story will be told and retold and the gravity of pain will gradually subside in time. Her eyes may have cried tons of tears, but her spirit is indestructible. “Babangon ulit, baka may planong iba ang Diyos sa amin,” she said, while forcing a faint smile.

The most honest of emotions is pain. It easily manifests itself on the face of a human being. It tells a story – of heartbreak, losing a loved one, a home and a life you once knew. Pain lingers and clings to the heart until the agony settles and fades into memory. The mightiest of strength however, is drawn from the greatest pains ever inflicted. No matter the kind of catastrophe ever ruin a person’s life, hope, and the will to survive can endure supreme emotional pain.

Emma had lost her twin, but her transcendent optimism fuses peace to her mourning soul.









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- who has written 44 posts on DSWD Field Office IV Mimaropa Official Website.

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