GUIHULNGAN, Negros Oriental — A look, a touch, a sound, a taste, a feeling–some moments of how the world touches us are lodged in our memories more deeply than others. Some rend our hearts and souls apart while some… heal. Operation Blessing tried hard to create more of the latter.
Brothers Dexter, 14, and Darwin Toting, 12, certainly have memories that are tearing their young hearts every day since February 6, the fateful day they lost the most important people of their lives–their Mama Melchora and Papa Danny–in a landslide.
Operation Blessing met the two brothers during a disaster relief mission in Barangay Planas. The boys barely talked. Dexter would stare ahead as he was asked then immediately drop his eyes when prompted for an answer. Darwin would look at his older brother then look downwards as well. Their silence revealed the turmoil most likely have bottled up inside. Their aunt Imelda Toting, now their guardian, filled in the blanks.
Both boys were in school when the earthquake claimed the lives of their parents. Mama Melchora wanted Darwin to stay home to rest after their school’s camping activity the week before. But Darwin insisted to go to school. Their house in the mountain can be seen from Darwin’s elementary school in Planas. From afar Darwin saw the landslide bury houses in his community including their own. His life was spared but the boy knew for certain his parents have perished in the quake.
Dexter wasn’t as certain. When the earthquake struck, Dexter was in his high school in downtown Guihulngan. Without a public ride available, he had to walk four and a half hours to get home. He arrived in the barangay with his shoes a total wreck but the report of his parents’ deaths shattered him far beyond.
“Masakit maalala ang sinapit ng mga magkapatid na yan,” Aunt Imelda said. The boys try to cope with their loss by playing with their cousins. Dexter prays that a similar tragedy won’t happen to their family again. The Totings still hope that the bodies of Melchora and Danny would be found.
Operation Blessing prayed for them after handing food packs to them. The following day, Operation Blessing invited the boys to make their first road trip to San Carlos City. Dexter and Darwin tasted their first Jollibee Chicken Joy meal and their first chocolate sundae.
Operation Blessing also bought new school uniforms for the boys. Inside the mall, the biggest store the boys had seen, the boys got to see and touch nice clothes, shoes, bags and stuff they like. Just before leaving the city, the boys were treated with cool halo-halo merienda. The countryside scenery along the highway on the way home was just as refreshing.
During and after the trip, the boys began smiling and talked more often. There is now lightness in their countenance. Operation Blessing hopes that the orphaned boys trip to San Carlos have created happy and good memories that would help absorb and ease their pains.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4 | by Rosanna Javier, Operation Blessing