Kids start playing basketball again to lift their spirits

TACLOBAN CITY (MindaNews/29 November)—Amid the devastation of super typhoon “Yolanda” here, some youngsters are getting back to their “normal lives” by playing basketball again.

Young survivors in Barangay 69 Anibong who were playing three-on-three street basketball, apparently as their way to alleviate their burden, have caught my attention.


Youngsters play basketball amid the ruins in Barangay 69 Anibong in Tacloban City on November 25, 2013. MindaNews photo by Roel Catoto

At the sides, some men watched them play the game.

The kids built the basketball ring from debris scattered in the village.

“After seeing a ball floating near the seashore, we took it and we started building this basketball ring for us to have fun,” said a teener who gave his name only as “Junjun”

He said some of his basketball buddies were either dead or missing after Yolanda devastated the city.

It was in their village that four ships were washed ashore, including big cargo containers, due to the typhoon’s fury.

“Our house was among the hundreds that were shattered into pieces,” Junjun said.

For him, playing basketball during spare time helps him forget the horrifying and painful event.

His playmate Joebert, 17, said playing basketball lifts their spirits.

Joebert said typhoon Yolanda was the worst experience he and his family ever had. They held each other firmly after their house was swept by huge waves, and ran to a nearby hill for safety.

“This makeshift hoop is the first center of entertainment to basketball fanatics and other typhoon survivors,” Joebert said.

“We designed this hoop for us to make some dunks and fancy moves like what you see NBA (National Basketball Association) stars are doing,” Joebert said with a smile.

Thousands of lives were lost to the typhoon, which also left tens of thousands of people here to suffer from hunger, thirst and uncomfortable shelter.

“The day after the typhoon, it was an unimaginable scene unlike today. Back then, you can hear everyone was wailing. You can see lifeless bodies left and right, the destruction of properties far and wide, impassable roads and desperate people who battle to survive,” Joebert said.

At their home, Joebert helped his father fix their makeshift house and make things in order.

“I’ve been doing this for two weeks now, we don’t have classes anymore after the typhoon,” he said.

“I wish I could read a book or comics that could entertain me. There’s no television or computer that we can enjoy now. I haven’t checked my social network accounts like Facebook and Tweeter,” he said.

“I miss the online games, too,” he quickly added.

Another playmate, Kent, said life is like a ball. “If you dribble the ball, it goes down and up.”

“We are down today but we are going to rise,” he said, citing the massive relief assistance that continues to pour from inside and outside the country.

Kent said boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao should serve as their inspiration.

Pacquiao had dedicated his recent fight against Mexican-American brawler Brandon “Bambam” Rios, whom he defeated, to victims of “Yolanda.” Pacquiao was set to visit Tacloban tomorrow (see related story).

“He dedicated his fight to us. We should do our share for us to win these tribulations,” Kent said.

In the downtown area, several gasoline stations have opened and there were no long lines unlike the previous week.

Sidewalk and market vendors, a few hardware stores and some bakeshops have resumed business also.

In Barangay Manlurip, stalls started to sell again lechon or roasted pig.

Soft drink delivery trucks can also be seen now negotiating passable roads in the city.

The kids playing basketball were thankful to the people around the world who extended help to the residents here. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)