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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and five other executives, including co-founder David Filo, will resign from the company’s board when the company finalizes its $4.8 billion sale to telecommunications giant Verizon.

Board chairman Maynard Webb and three others are stepping down along with Mayer and Filo.

Eric Brandt, a new board member, was named chairman.

According to Yahoo, the resignations are “not due to any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices,” in a Securities and Exchange Commission document filed late today.

Yahoo will also have a new name: According to the SEC filing, the company would be renamed Altaba after the Verizon acquisition.

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BY APRIL KNIGHT

 

     My fascination with Vincent van Gogh began when I first heard my older brother strumming Don McLean’s “Vincent.” A tribute to the Dutch post-impressionist, the song’s imagery was so concrete it played like a montage of colors in my head: thick strokes of blue across a blank canvas, yellow daffodils bending in the summer wind, a dark red rose crushed against fresh snow. When I breathed, I could smell roses and paint.

     So I sought out a photo of the “starry, starry night” in question and saw something else in that scene: a man’s internal tempest spilling out into the world in oil. I did not know this man, but I felt that somehow he didn’t quite belong; perhaps he was even bullied and outcast. I was all of ten years old and the world was still rosy, but for some benighted reason, I decided I liked the man who drew this. I just didn’t know then that he’d beckon for the rest of my life. Nor that I would follow.

     More than a decade later, an internship interview put me on a plane to New York. I had a tight itinerary, so I asked myself: If I could never come back to this city, what would I do? The question was, of course, a formality, a courtesy to Lady Liberty, Ellis Island and the Empire State Building. I knew what I wanted: to see the Starry Night, and through it, Vincent van Gogh.

     The problem was, I wasn’t sure why anymore. Whatever the reason lies buried between layers of time and experience, dormant, a smudgy memory devoid of feeling. By that time, the quest to finally see the Van Gogh was more of a confrontation than a date. I could picture myself storming up to the frame, saying, “Well? What do you want?”

     I could also hear Meneer van Gogh firing back: “No, mevrouw, what do you want?”

     What did I want indeed? Why seek a painting centuries and an ocean away, with a curiosity half-remembered, barely felt?

      So there I was, ambling around the fifth floor of the Museum of Modern Art, tearing myself away from the Dalís, Monets, Picassos and Vermeers I also loved, and in my restless search I almost missed it. I rounded a section of wall set in the center of another sprawling gallery, whipped around — and there it was. The painting of legend.

Van Gogh's "Starry Night." 1889. Museum of Modern Art.

Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” 1889. Museum of Modern Art.

It wasn’t as big as it was in my head, almost unassuming in fact, apart from a camera-wielding crowd surrounding it in a half circle. And yet it rooted me where I stood, literally stunned, I think, and somewhat disbelieving.

Like a shy teenager around a crush, I stalked its periphery, absorbing as much detail as I could from afar before drawing closer. I took in the rich, deep blues of the night sky, dissolving unevenly into lighter tones where they morphed into 11 large silver-gold stars. The golden crescent moon blazed with unearthly light. A west wind billowed in thickly, dominating the heavens. Below it, the sleepy town sat blanketed in silence, but nine windows kept vigil, gleaming faintly in the night. An orchard could be glimpsed in a dark corner, and a slender tree with flowing foliage — pine, possibly — shot up to the sky. There was a sense of anticipation, a quiet unraveling of some cosmic, almost spiritual event.

"Wheatfield with Mountains in the Background." 1889.  Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

“Wheatfield with Mountains in the Background.” 1889. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

Van Gogh’s works (more than those of, say, Monet’s or Seurrat’s) have that effect on me, that sense of motion and unfolding, and life — from swaying wheat fields, to flaming sunflowers, to dancing irises. Even his collection of shoes — shoes with laces and shoes without, shoes upright and overturned — gives off a hypnotic, homy, just-taken-off feel. I imagine that if I touched them, they’d still be warm from the last pair of feet they carried.

"Sunflowers." 1887. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Sunflowers.” 1887. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I realized then that part of the appeal was in van Gogh’s brisk, bold staccato strokes, almost aimless and accidental. I paint with a fear of imperfections, so I could see in them the freedom I admire but dare not seize. Van Gogh saw and created beauty in the inexact, the unrealistic, purposely shunning clean edges, opting for uneven transitions and mostly discrete dabs of paint.

Van Gogh's "Irises." 1889. J. Paul Getty Museum.

Van Gogh’s “Irises.” 1889. J. Paul Getty Museum.

This, I think, is life. The passage of our time on earth is never clean and linear, and can’t be portrayed in blocks of color bound by solid lines. It is not exquisite shadings, nor even immaculate renderings of the texture of the skin. Life is how van Gogh paints it, little discrete dabs of imperfect moments that eventually coalesce into a beautiful, living tapestry, much like the living blue painting that hung before me then, that first time in New York.

"A Pair of Shoes." 1887. Baltimore Museum of Art.

“A Pair of Shoes.” 1887. Baltimore Museum of Art.

So I made a little promise to Monsieur van Gogh to come and visit whenever I’m in town. I may not always know what I want out of it, but I’m sure he’s full of surprises, and I intend to keep that promise for as long as I can.

BY APRIL KNIGHT

 

There are some moments in life, no matter how long ago, that can still give you a good punch in the gut every time you think about them. The moment I voluntarily jumped off a perfectly good airplane always does it for me.

Skydiving is no longer an uncommon experience; you’re bound to have a friend who’s done it, or you’ve taken the leap yourself. I’m here to detail exactly how it felt.

I had no plans of going when I visited my parents in San Antonio a few years ago, but a quick Google search of “fun things to do in San Antonio area while stuck with parents for a week” turned up a skydiving field in nearby San Marcos.

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Skydive San Marcos.

The jump site was nothing but a cluster of wooden box-like buildings in the middle of a vast, empty flatland. We knew we were in the right place because of their unique marquee: the broken remains of a small crashed plane, with big letters saying, “There’s no such thing as a perfectly good airplane. Learn to skydive.”

     Cute, I thought.

My stepdad Aaron is a retired Army colonel; he was as excited as I was. My mother, meanwhile, declared that while waiting for me to get my feet back on solid ground, she’d pass the time by passing out every now and then.

I joined a small group and put my harness and pink jumpsuit on. We were given a disconcertingly brief demo of things to try to remember to do as we fall to the earth: keep your chin up, keep your bum up, have fun and let your instructor worry about the rest.

We could only do tandem dives with certified instructors; they operated the parachute, and we — well, we were baggage. I didn’t think I would’ve had it any other way anyway, that is until I met my instructor: a tall, charming dude wearing a shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops that he secured to his big toes with rubber bands. Can’t have them flying off on their own in the upper troposphere, you know.

I was about to ask why he didn’t just wear a jumpsuit and sneakers like the rest of us, but thought better of it when I smelled his breath, which positively reeked of beer. In hindsight, I think I thought better of the whole thing for a second there.

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“Old Maid.”

We filed into a small, disemboweled aircraft named “Old Maid.” I was so taut with anticipation I could feel every vibration the weather-beaten plane made as it rose to 11,000 feet. We began to circle and my instructor, tightly strapped to my back, deftly stood us both up and waddled toward the door, like some strange four-legged duck. Panic gripped me, and for a moment, the little voice inside my head reasserted itself and started screaming, “What the **** do you think you’re doing?!?”

I swallowed big gulps of air, now hanging off the side of the aircraft with the wind roaring in my ears, and heard another screaming voice: “It helps if you don’t look down!” My instructor, the genius.

Naturally, my eyes fixed themselves on the green, quilted landscape below, houses now nothing but scarce pinpoints, and for a weird second, I wondered if my mom passed out yet.

“How long have you been doing this again?” I shouted to the stranger stuck to my back, grasping for reassurance.

“Oh, about five minutes now,” he shouted back. Then he jumped.

Skydiving - 1 (2)

 

What they don’t tell you about jumping off a plane is that you change your mind the second you jump. A mortal fear of certain death overcame me as we hurtled down to earth, nothing but dead weight spat down by an uncaring sky, falling, falling, falling without end. Falling still with no signs of stopping. The free fall lasted ten seconds; it felt like hours.

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Free fall.

Another thing they don’t tell you is you can’t hear anything but the wind. I’m pretty sure I was screaming my  throat out (I could feel it days later) but we were streaking through air so fast the wind tore the sound from my mouth before it could reach my ears. I remember a kaleidoscope of whirling greens and blues, the air resistance buffeting my flesh (my face looked like it was constantly being rearranged by invisible fingers) and my stomach perpetually clenched from screaming, but not one high-pitched shriek escaped my lips.

Then I felt a sudden drag, the pilot chute deployed, and we began to glide for what was the most pleasurable five minutes of the entire ordeal.

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The Glide.

With the pilot chute providing some resistance, we slowed down considerably. I spread my arms wide, feeling a thick cushion of air under my belly, and stared bewilderingly at the bed of clouds below me. Below me. And then we were in the clouds, their pure coldness stinging my cheeks, invading my lungs. And right then, I tried to forever sear the moment in my memory, when there was nothing between me and fearsome Nature. Well, aside from a slightly drunk dive instructor and several pounds of gear.

We jerked back abruptly, the main parachute breaking our momentum like a hard foot on the brakes. I felt the breath knocked out of me as the harness cut painfully into my chest. The wind wasn’t so loud now, and I could hear my instructor saying we could stay up there like that longer because I was light. He steered the chute this way and that, drifting closer to earth.

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Smooth landing.

I pulled my knees up as we landed, and he took the brunt of the force. And just like that, we were back on solid ground, meters away from my pale-faced mom.

“That was awesome!” I shrieked.

“Think you’ll do it again?” asked my instructor, whose name, I then learned, was Ryan.

I grinned at him, and said, “Oh yeah.”

They said there’s no such thing as a perfectly good airplane, but even if there was, jumping off of one guarantees a memory of gut-punching quality for a long, long time.

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BY APRIL KNIGHT

All research done by the V.I. Sea Turtle Project under the University of the Virgin Islands Marine and Environmental Science Center is conducted pursuant to a National Marine Fisheries Service permit.


          The seabed shimmered a dark green, barely reached by the filtered midday light. Darker coral lay in scattered splotches. The ocean was quiet as a womb, disturbed only by the rasp of his breathing into the mask.

     Scott Eanes strained his eyes and drifted forward. Alongside three other marine researchers, Eanes was combing Brewer’s Bay, a small patch of ocean on St. Thomas’ southwest end, quietly searching for the amphibious subjects of his research: pre-pubescent hawksbill sea turtles.

     Eanes, a graduate marine biology student at the University of the Virgin Islands, founded the V.I. Sea Turtle Project nine months ago. Closely linked to his university research, the local non-profit tags, tracks and monitors the population of endangered hawksbill sea turtles around St. Thomas, ultimately to protect them.

    “Hawksbills are considered a ‘keystone specie,’” said Eanes. “They make the ecosystem stronger, able to withstand disturbances like hurricanes, just by being there.”

      First, Eanes had to find them. Finally, a brief shout cut across the howling sea breeze: “Turtle!”

Cletus1

Eanes, far right, holds a recaptured juvenile hawksbill sea turtle.

      In unison, the three human bodies bobbing quietly on the water converged in one area. Contrary to the reputation of their ground-based counterparts, sea turtles move like underwater missiles, nothing but quick green flashes shooting through the water to the unprepared eye. When Eanes spotted the turtle, he lost no time, diving in a straight line toward the small, dark shape against the rocks, grabbing it quickly and swimming toward a waiting research boat.

       It turned out to be a juvenile hawksbill already tagged by Eanes’ team, judging from the tiny, metal clips on its flippers. According to his tag, his name was Cletus.

       “Looks like we caught him several months ago,” said Eanes, holding up the struggling turtle. “We’ve tagged about 30 so far.”

       Cletus, only a couple of years old, was a foot in length from head to tail, his rubbery shell a dark pattern of overlapping diamond scales. His strong flippers slapped the surface of the boat with resounding cracks, his beak-like mouth, after which his specie was named, snapping at the researchers’ questing hands.

Scott, in his "Turtle Power" shirt, and fellow researcher Samu Mitchell place a wet towel over Cletus to calm him.

Scott, in his “Turtle Power” shirt, and fellow researcher Samu Mitchell place a wet towel over Cletus to calm him.

Eanes took a sloppy wet towel, pressed down on Cletus with it to keep him calm, and quickly went to work. He measured Cletus crosswise and lengthwise and took his weight. Instead of injecting a tracker microchip into Cletus’ neck, Eanes ran a black device the size of a TV remote along the turtle’s body to check if the tag was working properly.

     “He’s grown one pound,” announced a beaming Eanes, eliciting cheers from his colleagues.

     Ten minutes later, Cletus was placed gently back into the water.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 10.41.49 PM “We hope he makes it,” said Eanes, watching Cletus disappear quickly into the depths. “He already passed the most dangerous stage of his life, it’d be a shame if we lost him now.”

 

It was in 2014, at the peak of the Virgin Islands General Election, when I received the worst trolling to a story I wrote — the worst, because it’s the last thing any journalist wants to hear.

At the center of the article was the possibility of a gubernatorial runoff, which the controversial hand-count of the ballots was slowly proving imminent. One reader, clearly a supporter of one ticket, took issue with the headline, saying it was misleading and should have been phrased differently. I was “desperate,” he wrote, to make it appear as if the other candidate had a chance. Like most local media, he said, I delivered biased, partisan news.

I was horrified. I felt that the accusation was unfair and knew it was patently untrue. So I did what I was supposed to do: I brought it to the attention of my editors and publisher, asking if we should indeed make any changes to the disputed headline. After some deliberation, it was decided that the headline stays, and so does the reader’s comment. I was also advised to grow hurricane-proof skin because that won’t be the last acerbic comment I get from anyone, unfounded or not.

Then I hear about this other local “news” website that blocked readers and stripped them of commenting privileges when they called out the site’s inaccuracies and factual errors.

Cue my graduate journalism professor: Should news outfits allow online comments? Should we allow readers to comment away unfettered? Should we be using words like “unfettered” at all?

Such questions, in fact, became moot a long time ago, when the Internet was born and ended the era of a mass media controlled by a few.

Like any product released to the public, news stories are not exempt from critique. Consumers of news have in fact been critiquing the whole time. The only difference is, in more traditional platforms — newspapers, radio, television — the means of expressing such critiques are limited — by airtime, by word limit on a page, by clout or influence. The average person watching news on TV can’t just react on-air, and the most a reader can do is send a letter to the editor or write an opinion piece, hoping it gets published.

Which is why the Internet is a wonderful thing. This increasingly digital world is breaking down walls and leveling the playing field, making consumers producers at the same time, on a platform that is (literally) virtually available to everyone. Gone are the days of tossing our products out into the void without much regard for what consumers think. Nowadays, not only are consumers able to respond to news; the power and prevalence of the Internet are such that users can be makers of news.

In “The World is Flat,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman lists historical turning points that flattened the world, events that reduced power distances and chipped away at the usual barriers — class, politics, religion. For those of us in the business of information, the Internet just demolished the barrier of privileged access to means of reaching the masses. The fact that any online content with a public URL can be shared, embedded, and yes, riddled with unsolicited comments, makes an illusion out of any choice we think we have on the matter.

For better or worse, comments on online content are unstoppable.

But going back even further, is this not what journalists do — inform and stimulate conversation on issues that impact many? We report with as much accuracy, as much objectivity as our humanity allows, so people are armed with information that they may need, for whatever cause they may be fighting. As a journalist, I hope I have the grace to remember why people’s review of what I write — from the glowing to the scathing — are a major end of the journalistic enterprise, and when I get comments that drive me up a wall, I hope I have the wisdom to realize that reaction is better than apathy.

I hope I don’t have to swallow my own idealism too often, too. Sheesh.

Cover Photo: Ted Nasmith‘s “Tuor Reaches the Hidden City of Gondolin.” Nasmith is the official Tolkien illustrator. © Ted Nasmith, all rights reserved.

 

When the last installment of “The Hobbit,” Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s novel hit the theaters in December, fans of the Middle Earth movies turned their  eyes toward the third most popular material from the Tolkien canon: “The Silmarillion.”

And for good reason. Though little known to the masses, “The Silmarillion” is considered by many Tolkien scholars as the father of high fantasy’s best work, easily topping “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” If Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy however, is any indication of Silmarillion’s treatment in film, a movie adaptation could be a very bad idea indeed.

One reason is the book’s complexity. Tolkien’s son, Christopher, in the foreword of the 2001 Houghton Mifflin edition, described the book as “a large narrative structure” that became “so complex, so pervasive, and many layered that a final and definitive version seemed unattainable.”

Jackson, therefore, cannot simply split the “Silmarillion” into sections, a technique that somewhat worked with “The Hobbit” because there was a clear set of protagonists (i.e. Bilbo BagginsGandalf and the dwarves of Erebor) and a clear goal: reclaim the Lonely Mountain. All around these elements are a scattering of clearly supporting characters shored up by often-altered backstories. The plot line is reasonably straight, and fairly segment-able.

The style of “The Silmarillion,” is ages away from the Rings or Hobbit books. In almost biblical fashion, the entire narrative is the rich unfolding of a culture, the story of the world, Ëa, told from creation and spanning the ages to the Third Age when Frodo Baggins‘ fleeting quest began and ended. The Lord of the Rings timeline is but a footnote, a few pages at the very end.

Ted Nasmith's

Ted Nasmith’s “Fingolfin Leads the Host Across the Helcaraxë.”

The book’s sweeping timeline also poses a problem. Reading “The Silmarillion” feels like whizzing through history, the images alternating rapidly in your mind’s eye because of the almost matter-of-fact yet elevated telling of events seamlessly melding from one to the next.

The book itself consists of several sections, from the Ainulindalë, which recounts the creation of the steward gods Ainur, to the descent of the Ainur to earth in the Valaquenta, to the Silmarillion proper that contains several chapters on the entire history of elves and men, and finally, to the Third Age, in which Frodo Baggins’ travails, toward Mount Doom, detailed in three long films, were featured in a single paragraph.

To further complicate things, the stories sometimes fold back on themselves, as if reminding the reader of the significance of a particular event by recounting a previously told incident, sometimes to the point of digressing.

Thus, short of a film consisting largely of fast cut montages all throughout, there’s no way of faithfully telling the “Silmarillion” story without taking out large tracts of the Middle Earth history, an option unpopular among at least the more conservative subset of Tolkien fans.

Finally, there’s the Silmarillion’s plethora of characters. From cover to cover, there are at least 225 notable names, each with individual backstories, and majority of whom have two or three other names actively used in later references.

Ted Nasmith's

Ted Nasmith’s “Luthien.”

There are characters who do stand out. The love story of Beren One-Hand of Men and the elven princess Luthién Tinuviel is central to the entire Middle Earth legendarium. Fire-spirited Fëanor of the Noldorin elves and his quest to possess the Silmarils would also be great material for a film about a tragic hero whose obsession — the Silmarils, the prized jewels containing the last light from the trees of Valinor — is a centerpiece of the narrative. Then there’s Turin Turambar, who lived in strife and, by deceit of Glaurung the dragon, ended up marrying his own sister and taking his own life.

But these individual stories are like threads woven inextricably into the fabric of the Middle earth legend. And while it’s tempting to extract specific story lines — say, focus on just Beren and Luthien, or Turin Turambar — much of these stories will lose their depth, if not lack sense altogether, without the rest of the epic.

“The Silmarillion” is not meant for film. The timeline spans ages, there are too many central characters making it impossible to pin down a few to spin the movie around. There is no simple goal, no throne to fight over, only a consistently complicated and pervasive battle between light and darkness.

And while for many people, a “Silmarillion” movie could be their only portal to Tolkien’s epic saga, any such attempt would surely mean altering the very nature of Tolkien’s seminal work, and as much as many Tolkien fans, including this writer, want to see Middle Earth again in visual form, some things are too beautifully made, they’re better left alone.

Below is a fan-made “Silmarillion” trailer.

     In honor of all the good that was done amid the horror of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

 

     The deadliest storm in history hit the Philippines on the eve of my sister’s birthday. One year ago, Marian Abigail, who was turning 11, was chatting with my mother on her tablet, describing the crack of thunder that heralded the coming storm.

     My mother was in Brownsville, Texas, more than 8,000 miles away. I was even farther, stationed as a reporter in the U.S. Virgin Islands, literally on the other side of the world.

     “Nay, indi kami dri ma iwan ah (Mom, we’re going to be fine),” my sister said.

     My mother, unassuaged, told her to stay close to her father and head for higher ground. That was when the power lines went down, and what followed was by far the longest day of our lives.

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A NOAA image of Supertyphoon Haiyan as it made landfall. The city of Tacloban lies directly under the eye.

     When I first saw a satellite image of super typhoon Haiyan, I remember thinking, That can’t be right. All I could see was a massive, angry whirl of reds and greens over a region of Southeast Asia, and peeking under the whirling canopy was a familiar piece of landform.

     Wait, I realized in horror, That’s the Philippines.

     There was enough media coverage of the typhoon to keep the more than 10 million overseas Filipinos updated. CNN and most other networks provided live coverage. Weather channels tracked the storm’s northwest path across the hemisphere. We saw images of Tacloban City, now alien and unrecognizable, that bore the brunt of Haiyan’s rampage.

     But none of the news networks told us what we desperately needed to know: how our loved ones were.

     On the morning after the storm surge, mom and I tried to make contact with our scattered family one by one. Some were in Manila, some in Roxas, a small city in the the Visayas, and some, including my sister and my father, in Dumalag, an even smaller town one hour outside Roxas City.

     We tried cellphones, landlines, texting — all in vain. A communication vacuum blanketed the entire province.

     In desperation, I turned to the only way to ask for help from as many people as possible: a Facebook status update.

     Posting “HELP” on Facebook felt very much like running wild on the streets, begging strangers for aid. But a growing fear that my loved ones may have been lost in the deluge threw composure out the window.  On Nov. 9, at 11:49 a.m. EST (close to midnight in the Philippines), my Facebook status update was a plea for information, followed by the names of all my family members.

One year ago, after Supertyphoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, I posted this plea for help on Facebook. The response was overwhelming.

One year ago, after Supertyphoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, I posted this plea for help on Facebook. The response was overwhelming.

    Three minutes later, Epi Oquendo, a kindergarten classmate I had not spoken to in 20 years, sent a message saying her folks in San Jose, a tiny barangay in Dumalag, were alright. She did not have news of my sister.

     At 1:40 p.m, Bem Forteza, a high school classmate, sent a private message saying there was cellphone reception near the old bridge.

     At 3 p.m., Bisell Ann, an old churchmate, commented on my status, saying she could have her sister Lalaine, check on my father and sister. Lalaine’s phone was working, apparently.

     At 5:57 p.m., my brother Archelle, checking in to say his family was fine, saw Biselle’s comment, asked for Lalaine’s cellphone number, and called her with directions to my sister’s location.

     This trend went on for hours: friends and cousins and distant relatives posting updates, tagging each other on the most remotely relevant information about families and homes.

     It turned out we weren’t the only ones. Days after the storm, my news feed was a stream of panic, anxiety and cautious hope. A Kuwait-based Filipino was looking for his father, a fisherman last seen with his boat near the shore. An overseas Filipina was searching for her parents and three children in storm-battered Leyte province. My high school classmate Erik Villan could not contact his family, nor get on a plane from Manila to Roxas because there were no flights.

     For days after Haiyan swept across the nation, Facebook became a virtual bulletin board, a lost-and-found corner for overseas Filipinos desperate to know their families were safe.

      The responses were overwhelming, and incredibly pertinent. My cousin Lexie Villar, whose smartphone was still working, traveled half of Capiz province, taking pictures of streets, landmarks, and homes, and uploading them one after another. Updates from the Philippine Information Agency were shared from wall to wall. A video taken by someone who drove around one town after the storm with a camera went viral.

     It mattered little that majority of the posts had nothing to do with our families. Every piece of information we received  — photos of the  town plaza or a familiar street, instant messages, descriptive emails —  lifted the blackout bit by bit. Like pieces of a horrific jigsaw puzzle, details began falling into place, skewed but nonetheless present.

     The long wait was eased by my people’s signature humor. In our search for family members, one of my old friends said:

     “Ga hinibi lng kodi kagina sa Manila… teh mayo kay na tawgan ko sila naghim os buot ko…bisan wla na kmi balay… hehehehe (I was crying here in Manila. Good thing I was able to contact them; I feel better. Even though our house is gone. Hehehehe.)

      Then he used the word “keri,” a Filipino colloquialism that’s difficult to translate, and one I’ve almost forgotten. I believe it came from the English word “carry,” used in contexts of moving forward in spite of obstacles, as in carrying on.

     “Basi ma contact ko naman karun dai nanay.. eh pa check ko sila didto..eh ping taka di dayun.. ang importanti wla casualties nga natabo… ang mga balay lng wla na.. KERY dyapon ah. Hahahah (I might be able to contact my mom…I’ll have them check on your folks then I’ll ping you…What’s important is there are no casualties…Just the houses gone… But still, keri. Hahahah).

      And that pretty much summed up how many of us felt.

     Two days after the storm, I knew that every member of my family was safe. Thanks to Lexie’s photo updates, I even knew which parts of the ceiling still remain in my childhood home, and that only half of my aunt’s roof had collapsed.

     It truly was the longest day of our lives, and for those who still haven’t found answers, that day stretches on.

    But on that dark day, this virtual world was inundated by waves of something other than randomness and irrelevance. On social media, I found comfort in the words of friends, awe of the Filipino’s indomitable strength, and profound pride that even at the height of worry for his own circumstance, the Filipino’s bayanihan spirit, the communal unity we frequently tout as a national value, remained intact.

Cover photo courtesy of Ging Green. 

Note: After the storm, I’ve received unsolicited help from Virgin Islanders with big hearts. The $1,100.00 raised went toward buying school supplies for children in a devastated rural elementary school.