\nDear Sendong victims,<br n\/> <br n\/>It took me a while to write this letter, although it’s already been on my mind for a month, ever since I heard about the monstrous flash floods that took lives and swept away homes in Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan, and even Dumaguete.<br n\/> <br n\/>Watching the news that Saturday night in mid-December and the following days, I could only gasp, horrified, at the images I saw. That photo of a father in tears clutching his child all muddied and lifeless – which became viral on the Internet – brought me to tears.<br n\/> <br n\/>And I just shook my head in disbelief and bowed my head in prayer when I learned that someone I know – well, technically someone I have transacted with in the past via phone and email as we have not yet met in person – lost three of her loved ones: her parents-in-law and a sister-in-law.<br n\/> <br n\/>I’ve been to Cagayan de Oro City twice in the past, and discovered it to be a friendly city indeed. It lived up to its moniker, City of Golden Smiles. I found it safe to go around, and enjoyed walking around the city proper, having dinner at Bigby’s, shopping at Robinsons, buying pasalubong of Sler’s chicharon and pastel. Everyone had a ready smile everywhere you look.<br n\/> <br n\/>I’ve also been to Iligan, to Maria Cristina Falls in fact, on a land tour around Mindanao that took us to the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation in Bukidnon, Dakak resort, and Rizal’s old home in Dapitan. The Maria Cristina Falls was beautiful and pristine, with clear rushing waters that were a sight to behold.<br n\/> <br n\/>So it pained me to see Cagayan de Oro and Iligan suffering.<br n\/> <br n\/>And the pain was greater because, in a way, I know what you have gone through.<br n\/> <br n\/>You see, back in September 26, 2009, our house, which is situated along a creek, was also flooded in what seemed like less than an hour. Water seeped into the cars parked at the garage, entered the other small house we have in the backyard (which was sloping down toward the creek), and almost reached the roof, and the dogs panicked.<br n\/> <br n\/>Soon, the main house, which was on higher ground, got flooded as well and the water reached waist-level. Everything placed low, from mattresses and sofas to photo albums and slippers were soaked. What could hurriedly be placed on higher surface were lifted and thrown on top of tables. And when it seemed the waters would still continue to rise amid the pounding rain, my father asked everyone to evacuate, and with one last look around him, after determining that almost everything he worked hard for the past 50 years would be gone, my 80-year-old father left our house, sad that he could not even bring with him the last possible thing he wanted to carry – our family portrait.<br n\/> <br n\/>That night, I walked back inside the house and sloshed through ankle-deep water. By then the flood had gone down, as our concrete fence at the back gave way. We could see the raging waters in the creek, and look right into the devastation in our neighbor’s lot. My dad, a strong person, couldn’t help but shed tears.<br n\/> <br n\/>True, we are in a way more blessed in that no one in my family died during that Ondoy flood, and you may think I have no right to say what I’m going to say next. But I’ll say it just the same: There is hope.<br n\/> <br n\/>When you look at the empty lot where your house once stood, remember, there is hope. When you survey your muddied home and wonder how in the world you can clean it all up, keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world. When you get overwhelmed at the seemingly insurmountable expenses you are faced with – remember, you’re still alive.<br n\/> <br n\/>Think about it. God must still have something planned for you to do because you’re still alive today.<br n\/> <br n\/>Someday in the near future, you will no longer refer to yourself as a Sendong victim. You are a Sendong survivor. If I, an Ondoy survivor, can face the future with hope, so should you.<br n\/> <br n\/>So lift up your head. The whole country is behind you. God is watching over you.