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Super Typhoon Yolanda Aftermath One Year Later — The Lesson : “Live Life”

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by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Super Typhoon Yolanda changed my Life.

I lived inside “Ground Zero.”

I am a “Survivor.”

One obvious change Yolanda has made to my Life is I am more “aggressive.” Any pretense of patience is completely gone from my Life. I get a project done or I toss it and move on to one I can get done.

One obvious change Yolanda gave me is the opportunity to “Face Death.”

I have had a year to look at my reaction. I should be “Petrified.” I definitely felt, “Concern.”

Today is Saturday, November 8, 2014. A year ago, at “Ground Zero”, I stood in my bedroom and watched the winds of Super Typhoon Yolanda bow the coconut wood door back and forth like a warped, black LP record flexed back and forth.

Three times, Yolanda blew open the door. Three times, I pushed against the wind and intense walls of blowing rain to close the door.

Yolanda took the roof, but she left the thin sheets of plywood over the roof. Although, she did bend one down almost double to continue to pour a persistent waterfall of rain into the room.

Christy Warren, my wife, stood in front of me, and stared out the single window in the wall. I stood behind Christy and had my arms down around her. I watched the door disco dance against the door jab.

I still remember my chant: “You can stop anytime now.”

I have no idea, how many times I repeated those words. Everyone else in the room was quite.

Junea and Vanissa stood behind me. Digna Mora, the cleaning lady, stood behind the girls. Her son, David was under the concrete shelf sink at the back of the room. He fell asleep.

We heard Yolanda’s winds take the tin roof over the bedroom and the abundance of sudden sunlight over the plywood section confirmed the roof had gone airborne.

There was a plywood section for a roof under the tin. The plywood section held, but a sheet of the wood buckled in half.

The wingtip of “my” Archangel Michael statue held up that section of the roof, while the torrential rain poured in and the dry concrete floor began to fill like a swimming pool. The water inside the room would rise to a half-inch before Yolanda ceased her seize.

I remember every second of Yolanda’s bombardment.

Today, a year later, the sun is shining. The temperature is not too hot. Earlier this afternoon around one p.m., there was a nice breeze. A year ago, the phrase “Hell On Earth” had “A Real World” meaning.

I decided not to go to the “Yolanda Commemoration Ceremonies” in Tacloban City and Tanauan because I wanted “The Day” to think about my reaction to Yolanda.

All week long, ABS-CBN has aired the “Survivor Stories.” As a retired military newsman, I understand the decision. People want to know, “What Was It Like ?”

“Scary,” in a word.

The catch is, obviously, there is a limit to how much adrenaline your body pumps in a crisis situation. You sense and feel, “Fear.” But, the “Fear” can’t last.

“Numbness” replaced the initial “Fear” and the “Concern.” I stood at “The Mercy Of A Force Of Nature.” There was absolutely nothing I could do.

Yolanda could of snatched me or anyone else in the room and tossed us against the walls like rag dolls. Yolanda could of tossed any of us out through the roof.

Yolanda could of reached inside the room and pulled any or all of us out through the narrow doorway. Yolanda kept us corralled and “pinned up” in the room until her winds were done outside.

“Thanks To Yolanda, I no longer ‘Fear Death.’”

Naturally, I have “The Death Fantasy” where you lie in bed, surrounded by family and friends who love you. You close your eyes for the last time and “Death” arrives.

If I get “The Death Fantasy” fine; if not, at least, Yolanda, provided the lesson of awareness and acceptance of “Here Comes, The Last Ride ! ”

A year ago, once I heard the winds disappear, I stepped to the door and opened it.

“Stunned,” is the only word that works.

A Child Of The Cold War, I cut my baby teeth on the stories of United States, Soviet Union and Red Chinese Nuclear Armageddon Aftermath.

I remember the Civil Defense lessons in grade school. I got the blue prints I got in the mail from the United States Superintendent Of Documents to “build a bomb shelter in your backyard.”

Momma never let me build the bomb shelter. I couldn’t even convince her to build a basement. I always wanted a basement.

As a teenager, I had watched countless TV shows and movies about The Cold War Nuclear Apocalypse.

As a senior citizen, I stood on the concrete porch and looked at the devastated landscape of the island of Leyte.

No Hollywood Cold War Nuclear Holocaust Movie even came close to Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The brutal sky remained angry swatches of gray. The horizontal canvas was saturated. The rain had stopped and the sky still appeared soaked. The sky around me dripped like running paint on a wet canvas.

The dense emerald vegetation was yanked, pulled and discarded like a giant weedeater had gone ballistic on the landscape.

The huge tree at the corner of the porch had been yanked up by the roots and dropped like a weed at the hole, which moments before had covered the roots.

The 50 to 75 coconut trees in front of the house were gone. Two complete trees stood and four giant busted toothpicks, which had been coconut trees were still embedded in the ground.

Some of the coconut trees had fallen like discarded Lincoln Logs on to the plundered landscape.

Silence.

No sound.

In rural Leyte it is rare for an hour to pass without a rooster crowing somewhere nearby.

Across the barangay road, the neighbor’s bamboo house was gone completely. Christy’s white sari-sari store building was tilted at a 15 degree angle toward the road.

The bamboo carport had served it’s purpose. The bamboo poles were still in the ground. The dried coconut leaves roof had gone airborne.

Fortunately, the carport had stood long enough to keep the van on the ground. The other benefit of the carport, is it helped provide temporary shelter.

When the neighbors across the road, felt their house was going around them, they ran outside to the carport and got next to the van, according to the neighbor woman, they essentially formed a human chain and she held on to the van’s door handle.

Today, I stand with a mug of coffee in my hand and look out at the Land in front of the house. Sunlight bathes the dense vegetation.

We have a tin roof again over the house. The US AID gray tarpaulin still serves as two walls of the house.

I strolled up the barangay road a distance this afternoon. Houses are again beginning to take shape. The rice fields seem to be recovering. The Cameri Barangay Elementary School has a roof again. Neighbors’ roosters chase hens in the school yard and a concrete building in the corner is going up in a corner of the school yard.

Son, Samuel Ranilo Warren got tagged to participate in a Yolanda Commemorative Ceremony in Tacloban City as did cousin,Vanissa Saldana. Daughter, Donna Junea Warren got to “Fly Free” to a girlfriend’s birthday celebration today.

Christy and I have been relaxing around the old Pacific Ponderosa today. One Warren Way got severely remodeled by Super Typhoon Yolanda, but with time, I am sure we will have walls again someday. I need to find a carpenter, I believe, can put my concrete hollow blocks up to build a “Strong” wall.

As a political science and history student, I had memorized the photos of the destruction of “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. A year ago, Yolanda at “Ground Zero” in Tanauan, Barangay Baras delivered the “Destruction” without the radioactive “Fallout.”

November 8, 2014 — Tacloban City reports 6,000 people dead. Officials calculate, at least, 1,061 are still missing. I doubt an accurate “body count” for Super Typhoon Yolanda will ever be firmly established because a tidal wave came ashore and took structures and, no doubt, people back out to The Leyte Gulf and The Pacific Ocean.

The brutal winds of Yolanda took roofs and “bombed out” the insides of churches and smashed all the pews to smithereens. More than a week after Yolanda’s winds, I saw that Yolanda had parked a car and a Chevrolet pickup with the grilles against the ground. The trunk and pickup bed pointed up toward the sky, while the wheels rested on the side of a building.

Super Typhoon Yolanda, a year later, has reminded me of an Important Lesson Of Life: ”Live Life !”

I would emphasize : “Live Life With A Passion !”

Today is Saturday, November 8, 2014.

Tomorrow, at sun rise, my plan, is like the plan for today : “The sun is up. Time to make a cup of coffee and enjoy the day.”

Sam

Written by samwarren55

November 8, 2014 at 11:40 PM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Current Events, Ecology, Editorial, Family, Observances, Philippines, Tropics

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Long Lost Cousin Search

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by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Johnny Leo Green, my cousin, was always a few years older than me. I spent most of my Life, “Hearing About”, rather, than having any time with my elusive older Texan cousin.

Around The Year 2000, I got a letter from Johnny telling me he had researched the Warren and Green family history. We exchanged some emails.

“The Move”

In 2011, I made “The Move” to Leyte, Republic of the Philippines. I didn’t figure the move would end email communications with my Texas relatives, after all, it is “The 21st Century” and the globe is “Wired” for “Global Communications” to the planet.

I was wrong.

“Remote Location”

There are places on Planet Earth where there is: No Broadband Signal, No Wifi Signal, and even an analog phone line, a Ham radio signal or a Morse Code key set is almost impossible to find.

There are places on Planet Earth in 2014 where “Electricity” is still more of an idea than a working reality. I have neighbors who use candles for light after dark or they simply go to bed early.

I had no idea that a barangay on the island of Leyte in the Republic of the Philippines would be a “Remote Location”; it can be.

Tanauan, Barangay Baras was “Remote” before Super Typhoon Yolanda, so the storm does not get the “Blame.”

In 2013, before Super Typhoon Yolanda, there were homes in Tanauan, Barangay Baras, which still did not have “electricity.” It was not uncommon to see a slender bamboo pole in the jungle propping up a power line. Nor, was it uncommon to see six to 10 electric meters on a wood or concrete pole.

Super Typhoon Yolanda only made the electricity and communications systems worse.

Yolanda tossed aside power poles like broken toothpicks or slung them out across the landscape. No doubt, some of the bamboo power poles are at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

It was five months to the day that Yolanda struck before the electric company , responsible for our barangay, restored our “electricity.”

Yolanda totally “eliminated” the broadband service in my barangay. She took my broadband sensor on the long pole and slung it away. I still have some of the long useless cable.

“Wifi — The Only Game In Town.”

Like many people the “quick solution” is Wifi. I haven’t found Wifi to be that stable. I don’t like Wifi. Nonetheless, for now, I’m still doing the “Wifi” game because, literally, it is “The Only Game In Town.”

To date, I have searched the Internet and haven’t found a way to “Reconnect” with Cousin Johnny Leo.

I continue “The Long Lost Cousin Search.”

I am an October Scorpio. Scorpio is a Fixed Sign of the Western Zodiac. As a general rule, the “Fixed Signs” like to stay in touch with their families and relatives around the world. Genealogy, heraldry, family history and family ties are all important to most “Scorpios.”

My birthday and Halloween always makes me reflective to remember family and friends. Super Typhoon Yolanda, last year, emphasized the point that it is not wise to loose touch with family and friends.

If anyone knows my cousin, who worked in Port Arthur, Texas for several years, please, ask him to contact me on my “Samuel Warren” facebook page.

Look for the man in the photo in the blue United States Air Force uniform with The American Flag in the background.

Samuel E. Warren Jr. Oil Painting by FotoSketcher

Samuel E. Warren Jr. Oil Painting by FotoSketcher

I’d love to “Reconnect” with my Warren Family History and with my relatives in Texas.

Thank you.

Sam

24th Wedding Anniversary

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Editor’s Note — I wrote this editorial on my Wedding Anniversary for my wife. I had problems logging into my Word Press blog accounts on that day. Thus, the editorial stayed on my hard drive until I could get logged into publish the article.
Word Press seems to have updated their publish system, since my last editorial, so the format of this editorial may look different than previous posts.
Samuel E. Warren Jr.
_____________________________________________________

24th Wedding Anniversary

Today, Sunday, July 20, 2014, Christy Warren, my wife, celebrates her 24th Wedding Anniversary. Wait, a minute. . .my wife ? Holy Cow ! That means I’ve been married 24 years today also.

I need a minute.

Okay. The shock has passed.

I am surprised I am celebrating 24 years of marriage. I was a single man. I liked being a single man.
My first marriage was “Made In Hell.” Actually, I made the Supreme Mistake of walking down the alise of the neo-Gothic cathedral of The School Of The Ozarks at Point Lookout, Missouri, back in the late ’70s.

I made it a point to ‘Forget’ that so-called “Wedding Day.”

The Lesson Of My First Marriage was simple: I will Never, Ever get married again. Two-and-a-half miserable years of being “Locked” into “Holy Wedlock”, is the reason Why I Don’t Fear Hell. I spent everyday in Hell for two-and-a-half, long, miserable years. I dreaded sunrise each day.

Once my divorce was granted, I made myself “The Promise.”

The Promise was simple: “Never Again.”

At age 24, I won back my “Freedom.”

I never had any intention of ever getting married again.

I was “Free !” I was single, again.” I had a good job in the United States Air Force. Thanks to Uncle Sam, I do my job, salute smartly and I could travel the world. I did.

Again, I was a Single American. I was fortunately to be a Single American G.I. I loved my job in Public Affairs because I got to live my fantasy as “The Reporter.”

I lived to write. My mentor Master Sergeant took the time to really “Teach” me how to use a camera to take news photographs for the newspaper. I worked at it and became a photojournalist. I wrote the stories and shot the photos, which ended up in print in a base newspaper. My Life was complete. I was Whole. I was Happy.

The day came when Uncle Sam handed me a set of orders for duty in the Pacific. Hallelujah !

The Ozarks country boy ends up at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. I had heard my father’s stories about World War II in the Pacific. I had heard other veterans War stories about duty in the Pacific. I did some interviews and published some of those stories. When Uncle Sam gave me the orders, I had my camera bag packed before my duffel bag and I was ready to catch the aircraft on the runway.

While stationed on Okinawa, I noticed and met some of the Most Beautiful Women On Planet Earth.

I met Koreans and Filipinas. I got a temporary duty assignment to the Kingdom Of Thailand, so I met beautiful Thais, Cambodian and Laotian women.

I was in my 20s and 30s, so I was as “Handsome” as I was ever going to be. Fortunately, the striking blue uniform and my Battle Dress Uniform made even an average looking guy like me appear like a handsome Hollywood heart throb.

Still, I had “No Intention Of Never, Ever Getting Married Again.”
At Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines, I fell in love with the tropical climate, the country, the base, and my job. I was a Single American G.I., whose blood flowed and his heart pounded, so I naturally noticed I was “Ground Zero” in the Pacific version of Heaven. Everywhere I looked — Filipinas.

A Single Man In Paradise surrounded by beautiful women realizes Life is more fun and meaningful when it is shared.

One Filipina caught my eye. Christy had a Farah Fawcett-Majors shag haircut. Her eyes sparkled. Her smile was diamond bright sunshine.

She wasn’t tall. Still, she caught my eye and I could see her as a “Playboy” or “Penthouse” centerfold in my mind.

Christy might have known two words in English. Language was definitely the barrier. I learned broken Tagalog and she busted through the barrier and learned English quickly.

One of the things I noticed about my future wife was her independence and sense of style. In the Asian culture, women usually are shy and taught to stay in the background. Christy was one of the few Asian women I had ever met, who did not do the cultural “Docile Routine.”

When it came to style, Christy had the eye of a fashion designer. She knew how to mix and match colors that caught my eye and made other men turn their heads.

We began to date. I suddenly realized, “Jackpot !”

I knew “If” I didn’t marry Christy I would always regret the decision. I wanted someone I could “Love” and share my Life with.

Women came and Women went. I was a single man. I knew, Christy was “The Woman!” I didn’t want to see her, “Go.”

I proposed.

She made me wait.

I kept at the job and wondered “If” she would take me up on my offer.

She did.

Friday, July 20, Nineteen Eighty Nine, the presses rolled. “The Philippine Flyer” came “Hot Off The Press !”

In the best tradition of American Newspaper Editors And Reporters, I had told Christy, “The newspaper comes first !”

My Wedding Day was scheduled to happen — after “The Philippine Flyer” came off the presses. Show Time was 10 a.m., at the Justice Of The Peace office at The Main Gate of Clark Air Base. I and everyone of my witnesses and people from my office were in position.

The only thing missing ? The Bride.

Christy was having “Second Thoughts.”

The clock ticks. Time passes.

I smiled a lot.

The smiles helped to hide my nervousness.
I remembered the stories about being “Left At The Altar.” I remembered Dustin Hoffman in the movie, “The Graduate.”

The witnesses were getting restless. The Justice Of The Peace did some more paperwork to pass the time.

I got restless.

At 1 p.m., my “Bride” walked through the door. Heaven retired an “Archangel” that day. Christy was a heavenly vision. She wore a simple white dress with the traditional Filipina “Imelda Marcos Filipina sleeves”, which rise an inch or two at the shoulder seam.

Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos made the dress style internationally famous, so, at least, Military Americans got in the habit of describing the dress as “The Imelda Dress” or a Filipino dress with “Imelda sleeves.”

Christy wore her long hair up to create a bun at the back described as Chinese style. I describe her holding mechanism as “Chopsticks”, for lack of a better descriptive term.

Christy was “Perfect.”

24 Years Later — My Bride, Christy is still “Perfect.”

The only thing my bride lacked was “Wings.” I looked at her and my mind’s eye supplied the feathery, ivory angelic wings to match her dress.

“I do.” The two most important words I ever uttered in my life, I spoke that day.

When I die, I doubt I go to Heaven. I don’t care. I’m a redneck Texan. I grew up in the Hillbilly Ozarks. I am an arrogant American. I love my country and my flag.

The Texan Warrens and The Missouri Ozarks’ DeLongs taught me the most important thing in Life is to Live It and Love Your Family.

The Day I Step Out Of This Life and stand before God or Satan and am expected to make a statement about my life, I already know, what I will say:

“Sir, with all due respect, I enjoyed every second of my Life. I had the Best Mother any Son or Daughter could ever ask for.”

” I am grateful for my father. I hit the celestial jackpot of aunts and uncles when it came to DeLongs and Warrens. The Universe hit me hard at times in Life.”

“I am not a religious man. However, I got The Best Wife that any man, in the past, present or future, could ever imagine or ask for. Christy Saldana Warren might not have been an archangel, but, she has always been, My Goddess. My wife has always been my strength, my heart and my soul.”

“If this is Judgement Day; so be it ! I ain’t askin’ for ‘Squat.’ I just want The Universe, Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, The Christian God and whatever other deities, real or imagined, which live in The Universe to realize I loved Christy Warren with my heart and blackened soul. I thank The Universe for my son, Samuel Ranilo Warren. I thank The Universe for my daughter, Donna Junea Warren.”

“My children have ‘The Best’ of their beautiful Filipina mother. I truly hope, my children have inherited some of the redneck arrogance, cynicism, skepticism, independence, stubbornness,and courage of their American Warren and DeLong ancestors and their ‘Hell-raising’ father, so they will achieve their own personal greatness in their lives.”

“Therefore, God, Satan, with all due respect,my Life is better than I could of ever hoped for. Faith, Hope, Beauty, Joy, Happiness — I had it all.”

“If you gentlemen dieties wanted me to suffer — you messed up ! I found ‘My Wife.’ I found ‘My Life.’ Christy Saldana Warren. I lived on the planet Earth. But, I Never really Lived until I woke up each morning and looked into Christy’s face.”

“My world. My Life. My Soul. I lived as a man. My wife completed me. No silly reward or No eternal punishment can ever separate my from The Love Of My Wife Christy On Earth.”

“Send Me To Heaven ! Send Me To Hell ! Cast My Atoms To The Far Reaches Of The Universe ! I will have the last smile. I had ‘The Best Mother Of Mankind.’ No Eternal Punishment Will Ever Torture My Sinner’s Soul because I had ‘The Best Wife Of Mankind’ — Christy Saldana Warren.”

In the United States, it is never easy to find the Love of another person.

In the Republic Of The Philippines, Love might be totally ignored because people are taught to believe in a God creature or his underling, rather than open their eyes and search for the soul that adds to or completes their Life.

My Life has taught me that Love is The Soul Who Completes You.

Christy has not always agreed with me. Christy, at times, has definitely disagreed with me. We have had our loud shouting matches at each other. However, I would never want to imagine My Life Without Her.

Thus, God or Satan — real or not — does not worry me. None of the deities of Mankind frighten me. Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, The Christian God can all take a bus to Brooklyn and drown themselves in The Atlantic Ocean. I do not “NEED” or “WANT” any of the silly religious fantasies and mythologies of The World’s Old Tired Organized Religions.

I stood at “Ground Zero”, the day that Super Typhoon Yolanda, came to my barangay in the Philippines. I heard the winds howl. I saw the intense white light around the door frame. The door busts open three times. Three times I rushed put my shoulder to the door and closed it.

None of the phony Gods Of Mankind had ‘The Power’ to take me.

I love my wife and family. The phony Gods didn’t get me and they had their chance.

Super Typhoon Yolanda didn’t take me and I gave her three chances when I grabbed the door and shut it.

Thus, “If” I ever do stand before one of the false Gods Of Mankind or Satan, I will be respectful: I was born a Texan and “Respect” is ingrained in my DNA.

I will not “Fear” because I was raised in the Ozarks by a proud “hillbilly” mother, who taught me “Love IS Family” and “Family IS Always Love.” Relatives who betray you; aren’t family — they are just biological lifeforms who have a lot of the shared RNA and DNA.

Marriage can and does “Create A Special Mystical Strand Of RNA and DNA”, which flows through the blood and enhances the organs to evolve a human into a special, unique human, who lives for his or her family.

In the final analysis, I have, no doubt, I could look God or Satan in the eyes and present my final statements.

“My wife,Christy made me welcome each sunrise. Everyday with Christy was an adventure. We had our ups. We had our downs. We always had ‘The Love.’ Christy gave me two beautiful children, Samuel Ranilo Warren and Donna Junea Warren. The Universe knows ‘My Goddess’ is Christy Warren — my heart, my soul, and my Life.”

Thank You, Christy for 24 Wonderful Years Of Married Life. Thank You, Christy for 24 Years Of Life. Christy, You are “My Goddess.”

I love you, Christy.
Sam

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