Mata ná, CdO!

by Evans Yonson

The logo of Mata Ná, CDO designed by Mong Belmes Jimenez.

Barcelona – I created a Facebook group called Mata Ná, CdO (Wake up, Cagayan de Oro), over my desperation of how the present local government headed by Vicente Y. Emano is handling my beloved city. I was in Cagayan de Oro twice this year – in January and from June to September. What irked me the most was the construction of the three flyovers when all the city needs is a strong and very-well planned traffic management system, which should have been done a long time ago during his first term as Mayor in 1997.

On December 17, 2011, early dawn typhoon Sendong (international name: Washi) hit Cagayan de Oro when everyone was sleeping. There have been warnings several hours before the rushing of water and mud hit several villages in the city. The last time the city was hit by a typhoon was January 2 and 9, two Saturdays and two storms. What’s with Cagayan de Oro, typhoons and the Christmas season?

Mata Ná, CdO started long before Sendong came into the picture. A mere month before the typhoon hit land in CdO.

Like I said time again, I have no political ambitions. I love CdO so much that I would rather monitor the goings-on in the Facebook group than attending and worrying about my siblings who were left with nothing after typhoon hit their village. This episode in my siblings’ lives is another story to tell. Two families. Five children. One baby. One village. One dawn. A thousand stories that need to be written and told a million times for generations to come.

As the description of this group says, “It is a group of concerned Kagay-anons (citizens of Cagayan de Oro) who believe that the city can be better than it is now. We believe that our leaders and the citizens should be active members of our city. Let’s make Cagayan de Oro better by learning from our past, understanding what’s happening now and making everyone believe and take action that we all can make a change.” We discuss anything and everything for the interest of the City of Golden Friendship.

Shortly before the online relief operations started we were about 1,200 members in the group. On the second day, I was approving about 150 requests to join the group. Someone from New York volunteered to help me manage the group. And on our fourth day, we received 400 requests in one hour. We welcomed our 5,000th member on that too. To date, we are already more than 6,500 members. And the response to our operations has been tremendous and overwhelming. People from as far as the United Kingdom and New York have collected funds and relief relief goods that will arrive in January. Within the Philippines, help has been immense. Stories of heroism among the Kagay-anons are countless, from dogs saving their friends, from children surviving the flood, and so on.

The group also made news for its immediate response to the disaster. 1) Google sets up person finder database for Sendong victims; 2) Losing count; and, 3) Typhoon Sendong relief operations on cyberspace.

I could not escape the crying and trembling part of this operation since I started on Sendong Day One. My distance from Cagayan de Oro has made it even more excruciating. My mother always said when you look back and ask yourself at the end of the day, “what have I done today to truly say that my life has been a worthy one?” Tonight, as I lay down and pray, “I’ll tell my mom and the universe, today I did something good.”