Catastrophe, it awakens hope, strengthens faith and brings courage to the one who remained steadfast. However, resiliency, is constantly within the spirit of a Meranao who’s able to surpass whatever debacle that attest any means of suppleness despite mediocrity.

It was in the midst of the Marawi Siege when the life of a single-mother was almost vanished during the destruction of the Severe Tropical Storm Vinta hit in just like a passing of darkness through light, from sunrise to sunset, and on a single snap of a finger the place where culture was first acculturated, life begun to bloom and survival took place- home, two years ago.

This is the life of Ombos Mabaning, a strong and brave 65 year-old widow who once lived peacefully on her greenfield-surrounded hometown in Brgy. Salipongan, Bubong, Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur. Before the devastating event Typhoon Vinta shocked their living, Ombos is a solo-parent raising her one and only daughter and providing her every needs she asks for with herself alone. After a while, her daughter got married and has a family of her own, because of that, she selflessly let her daughter foster her growing family on their shelter and decided to pamper her bed-ridden-freestanding-Aunt then chose to live with her instead. In order to survive their day-to-day living, Ombos solely depends on her small Sari-sari store in which she earns with not exceeding to two-hundred peso a day and relying on the monthly allowance that their Barangay Chairperson gives to sustain their daily expenses, thus, on that manner, Ombos was able to support their living and provide the maintenance and medicine that her sick-aunt needs. Nevertheless, to spend less of their income, Ombos had her green-around-the-gills where plenty of green-leaves and veggies and fruitful yard wherein they can harvest every time they feeds their antsy stomach.

Until one stormy and busty Friday struck the place and dissolved all aspects of survival by the people living in the Basak Area including Ombos whose shelter and livelihood were lost way back December 2017 due to the huge impact caused by the Typhoon Vinta. The tragedy was still fresh in mind as Ombos still recalls every details on how the raging flood takes as it flows every single thing that shapes their culture.

 “…torogan, pagigimo, kauyagan, langon myasugat o baha” (…home, appliances, livelihood, were all vanished by the flood) she said on a watery-eyes while reminiscing the unforgettable destruction made by the typhoon Vinta. The placidness of life, the calmness of Greenfield and peaceful wandering of birds in which they bore for decades suddenly turned into boisterousness, agitation and woolliness as the flood wiped-out their place in just like a blink of an eye.

Despite the saddening aftermaths of the disastrous STS Vinta, Ombos remained firm, strong and brave, although she almost lose hope and thought that she can no longer handle the situation considering that she is taking care of her sick-aunt and so with the family of her daughter since they also lost their home and it was also a double-strike of suffering because of the armed-conflict happening in the City, yet, Ombos kept on glazing her faith towards the All-provider and leave upon His will whatever remedy He will provide to revive their fading hope made by the typhoon.

“O mapiya kay Niat sa kaphamangningka Rekaniyan sa tabang ago mangingimbabaangka na thabangangka Niyan.” (If you sincerely ask and bow your head for His help, He will eventually provide.) She responded after being asked of how are they right now two years after the occurrence of the STS Vinta. Then she genuinely expressed her gratitude towards Duyog Marawi Inc., who provided her a Permanent Shelter where she can restore her lost culture, recreate fond memories with her grandchildren and restart a new beginning of life happily.

Ombos is one of the fortunate beneficiary of Permanent Shelter Project in Basak Area funded by NASSA Caritas Philippines. Aside from being a shelter beneficiary, Ombos is also part of one of the DM’s programs called Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC), a community-based savings composes of group of mothers in accordance to Shari’ah-compliant microeconomics that helps them sustain their livelihood. Indeed, prayers were heard and answered. Fortunately, not just Ombos but as well as the community-people living in Brgy. Salipongan became an extended family and a home of DM as almost all of their project components are being implemented at their respective premises such as Training on Organic Farming for farmers enabling them on using organic fertilizer as way of farming, Feeding program for malnourished children who now became healthy after the period of implementation, Construction of WASH facility to promote Zero-open defecation, Psychosocial activities for both parents and children and many more.

The resiliency of Ombos was never destroyed. Unfortunately, aside from the loss of property, she also lose her loved-one, her aunt, whom she showed tenderness and never hesitate to take care no matter how tough the situation is. But then again, the optimism she upholds remained within herself and continue living and faced life braver and stronger.

Today, for more than two years of survival from being double displaced, Ombos was able to follow her statement of gratitude after asking and said “Mapiya so buhay.” (Life is wonderful) It’s tangibly felt how hope brightens her face and smile as a sign of happiness reveals upon her eyes being grateful in spite of the typhoon that hit their Barangay.

Regardless of whatever disaster it may challenge a Meranao woman, one thing is for sure, she who faces it with strong faith and believes that light always follows after a period of darkness and rises after being fallen, truly, she will surpass, conquer and survive!

Written by;

Sittie Nihaya L. Amer (Co-writer)

Saiven M. Romuros (Lead-writer)

Researchers and Writers, LAPELS, Class of 2020