confession tuesday

7,107 islands. That's how many there are in the Philippines. We used to memorize certain facts like this in elementary school, along with geographical definitions of an archipelago, an island, a river, a sea, an ocean. I grew up in a land surrounded by water on all sides that now as an adult I get anxious when I'm not close to one, its as if a part of me is missing. The important part.

I don't know if any of you have heard the news lately, but my country has been badly hit by a typhoon last Saturday and there's been so much flood in Manila and its surrounding areas that everyone is just overwhelmed by it. We usually have about more than 30 typhoons in a year so this is not new to us but last Saturday's calamity caught everyone by surprise - 6 hours of heavy downpour that was worth a whole month of rain and no one was prepared for the onslaught of flood that followed.

The effects of this typhoon was compared to Hurricane Katrina. Watching the news and looking at videos online fills me with so much sorrow, and yes, guilt. How is it possible that I am here, worrying about what to wear for my cousin's wedding next weekend, while back home so many people are cold, hungry, displaced?

Thankfully the typhoon did not hit our island as badly as it did in Manila and my family are doing well. I was on the phone with my sister the other night and I could hear the winds blowing outside. It brought back so many memories, images that I seldom allow myself to remember because doing so means treading on difficult emotional ground. But perhaps I needed those memories because hours later, I found myself in a coffee shop writing away, writing until my hand and my heart hurt.

Love means you breathe in two countries. I've always loved this line by Naomi Shihab Nye. I am living this line. Sometimes I wonder why I make things complicated, if I miss my country and my family so much, why not go back? Why not? I really can't answer this question and maybe only time can tell if I ever will.

P.S. That's my sister in the photo, I took it the last time I was home, on our way to a boat ride that took us to a small, uninhabited island with the whitest sand its almost like a dream.


  1. I am so very sorry, Odessa. This is painful and rips my soul. I can only imagine how badly you must feel. I can only imagine the hurt and the pain of the dear people who are in the middle of the horror.

    I have been looking online for places that will accept donations to help with relief. I'm struggling financially and don't have much...five bucks or so. But if you know of a good group, please let me know. I can also spread the word to friends and others who may have more. I know money is not the cure for heartache, but I worry about the people who are left. I worry how they will survive.

    The picture is beautiful, and so is your sister. And so are you, Odessa. Thank you for this very important post.

  2. Thanks for this post, Odessa. It jarred me from my landlocked (yet insular) world and reminded me that I need to be more aware. It's easy for me to forget that when something like this happens, the effects are personal, because each person who loses their home or possessions or life is someone's child or sister or father or uncle.

    Praying for you and for them.

  3. I'm so sorry. While I'm glad your family's okay, it's hard to think about the people who aren't as fortunate as we are.

    It's a heartwrenching post and very thoughtful. Thanks for opening up.