From the column Pieces of Donna
Republished with permission from TheFreeMan (Cebu)
The tsunami in Java, Indonesia that happened last Monday reminded me of the tsunami in December 2004. No, we were not there, thank God, we were actually on board a cruise ship, coming from Penang, Malaysia on our way to Phuket! Had we docked earlier (apparently, we missed the tsunami by a mere eight hours), who knows what would have happened!
Flashback December 2004:
Getting ready for the family holiday cruise! One week before our vacation, we were ready and packed. Our kids kept asking us if it was "THAT DAY" already. The day we were to fly to Singapore, where we will board the ship, really thrilled them no end. We took the four days / three nights Singapore cruise hub. It was actually a 6-day vacation for us. We stayed in Singapore for one night before boarding the ship and another night before coming back to Cebu. Anyway, the itinerary was, Singapore - Penang, Malaysia - Phuket Island - Singapore.
It was the first time for the entire family to go on a cruise ship together! All 21 of us - Daddy and Mommy; My husband Yong & I, with our kids Belle and Cian.
The thought of Cian, who was in his "terrible twos" stage, being on a cruise ship was quite nerve-wracking that we decided to take his Yaya Sally with us; Mike and Betty (Yong's sister) with their kids, Carlo, Keli and Sabin; Neil and Mia (Yong's sister) with their kids Tonyo and Kali; Philip (Yong's brother) and Marivic with their son Basti, Tita Agnes and her husband Tito Ricky. We were so excited about it especially the kids. Cian still remembers the "big boat" and how he and his cousins had so much fun!
Departure for Singapore: The kids could not contain their excitement, it was such a lovely sight while waiting to board the plane going to Singapore, the joy in their eyes and little voices were very infectious that we all felt equally excited! I could not imagine taking that trip without them around. They never fail to give all of us true joy indeed!
Phuket was the first destination in the itinerary. It takes about a day to get there from Penang, Malaysia. Everything felt so normal while on board the ship and we did not feel anything out of the ordinary while we were at sea. We had just finished having dinner and decided to go back to our room to rest for a while, then, the horrible announcement was made that night as we were headed towards Phuket. I remember the ship captain informing all the passengers about the tsunami tragedy in Phuket, asking us to pray for all the people and letting us know about the change of destination, we got diverted to Langkawi, Malaysia. It was a very sad and scary moment for all of us! I couldn't help but cry when I saw the news on television. I felt blessed and thankful that we were spared from that disaster but I also felt so sad for the victims and their families especially the kids! It was a solemn and sad night at sea but peaceful!
We also learned from one of the staff that the area where the ships usually dock was wiped out! Our friends and relatives we're frantically calling and texting us but could not reach us because there was no signal where we were.
My family in Manila was so worried and was so hungry for any kind of news about us. They called family and friends to help them locate us. My cousin Geneva said she also kept calling Yong's cellphone.
After reaching the area near Singapore, we got our signals back and finally we were reachable and everyone got a hold of us, you can just imagine how thankful and relieved they were!
What happened there was truly an eye-opener for all of us. It was a great reminder to be more appreciative and thankful to God for each new day that HE has been giving us. It was a scary thought... starting our holiday cruise with such a catastrophic news - and we were so close by!! It made us realize how precious life is, that we should give more value to our lives and the way we should live it, and give more importance to the ones we love.
As I am grateful for the Lord's blessings everyday, that moment made me even more thankful and humbled by HIS generous love and protected our entire family.
As the world mourned for the victims of the disaster, it also made us realize that life indeed goes on...so did our vacation with a little adjustment and a renewed appreciation for life and family, and a strengthened faith in the Almighty.
PART TWO NEXT WEEK...