Looking down at the broken pieces of glass by our shoes, each piece no bigger than a kamias fruit, we wondered how long it took Glenda to break through our Oratory doors. It was a heartbreaking sight for the faculty and staff the morning after the storm left. The exposed beams of the buildings reminded us of how the school used to look back when it was still a construction site. Back then, the beams showed hope and promise of what is to come. Now, it feels like a setback—how could something we waited so long to be put up be torn away by something so ephemeral?
At the end of the long, harrowing week, our principal called for a meeting with the whole team to put things into perspective. Soon, one thing became clear to us: no typhoon should be strong enough to put a dent in our students’ formation. That much we were sure of. In less than half a day, teachers from every level had put in place both the academic schedule as well as the spiritual processing of the community—in true Ignatian fashion, no less, for there is no true education without spirituality.
While I feel immeasurably proud to belong to a team who embodies this ideal, it is exceeded by a far greater source of gratification—that of which should be credited to our students. Sometimes as adults, we face a calamity armed with vigilance and worry. The former, for things we believe are in our control, and the latter for everything else. We fill our time chasing after household management, perceiving it as a way to protect our families. And sometimes, we forget in ways unseen that children have a way of viewing the world a little more openly, a little more truthfully. And there is much for us to learn.
“You stop getting scared when you start feeling safe,” a third grader tells her classmates after typhoon stories had been shared early in the morning.
Such innocent words, and yet, so full of wisdom as well. Is not fear the very distance from a place of safety? That is why whenever we are scared we turn to our parents, friends, and relatives—people we trust—and ultimately to Him.
Composed solely of children’s prayers, the XSN Compassion Wall remains in the lobby as a sign of the heart and cura personalis within the students. Despite telling stories of witnessing glass shattering and not having electricity and water for days, the children all prayed for others who are in greater need of grace. A teacher who did not have water and power for several days even recounted receiving offers of aid from concerned students. Without the Internet, students who were mere acquaintances in school connected with neighbors by spending time with each other throughout the power outage. It is humbling that they have found ways to comfort and think of others in the midst of the experience.
The shards of broken glass from the oratory, each piece no bigger than a kamias fruit, were gathered and kept in a box. The team decided we could each keep one or we could create a mosaic with it. At the end of the day, no matter how broken the school might seem, the community keeps it whole and ultimately beautiful.
And it is good to remember these words for future incidents: we stop getting scared when we start feeling safe.
Post-Glenda Spiritual Processing (Selected Works)
Kinder – Grade 1
Dear Jesus, Can you please help us to overcome the fear of the storm. Please bring the storm away from us because you love us super much. — Jorell Ching
“Dear Jesus, I pray that the victims of Typhoon Glenda must be healed and I hope you make sure you make the sadness from the typhoon [go] away.” — Joshua Santos
“What I remember from the typhoon is my mom fanning us the whole night until we fell asleep. She was just doing it and not stopping.” – Ryley Ramos.
“Hearing the shatter of the thunder, I woke up very cold. Then, I helped my parents trying to stop the water going to our house. The gate was dented, one of the lamps fell down, and the office had water. I clogged the water and I told my mom there is no more water going inside.” –Sam Lindog
Dear Jesus, Please let the typhoon to not come on Philippines and other countrys [sic], and please let the houses and tree to be not broken. Thank you God! – Richard Kum
“We need electricity to get most of the things we need. Some of the things we had when there is electricity are no use after the typhoon. Harm nature, and nature WILL harm you.” – JC Ricablanca
“During Typhoon Glenda, there was disaster and tragedy all around the area. We felt so hopeless and helpless. There was no electricity. We couldn’t charge gadgets. There was limited amount of water. We had to bathe in another place. There was no light, so we had to use candles instead. On the bright side, there were no quizzes, but no friends, too. It brought pain and hardship, but we’re on our way to recovery/we are recovering.” – Nadya Dizon
When Typhoon Glenda came, the clouds and sky were so dark; strong rain and wind were all over the place. After it ended, everything (what I saw) was destroyed. I couldn’t believe that it was this strong. Trees fell down, houses were ruined, no electricity, no water, and no homes to return to for [some] people. It was a mess. When I see all of those when I pass by, I felt lucky that I have a house to live in, have water and electricity. But I also felt sad because everything was lost for the people when their most precious things were lost to Typhoon Glenda. – Thea Abutal