An Upside to ST Yolanda

Or Guinarona’s Contemporary History Through Peace Corps Volunteer Fred Marinello

If anything, Supertyphoon Yolanda and its aftermath glued people together the world over with the commonality of shared ethos, grief, compassion and charity. People wanted to reconnect with Filipinos in their hour of despair, even only to share their time, to offer encouragement, absent money or anything in kind to give.482925_4064319441094_1174270479_n

Which was what happened to us with Fred Marinello, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, who was assigned to Guinarona in 1963 to teach English and human values. Of course, we were familiar with him, even as we were already in Tacloban for our first year of High School, because we were always in Guinarona on weekends and on school-free days. And who would forget our caroling, with the other kids, at his boarding house on San Pascual Street for two Christmases.

Mr. Marinello was this huge hunk of a man–more like a giant to us midgets–and he would always have his coins ready for us, while waiting in the dark stairwell, perhaps just suffering and shrugging off our off-key carols. Getting money from the “Kano” was always the highlight of our wanderings at Christmas.

Oh, yes, Mr. Marinello was a a busybody while in Guinarona. He it was who initiated the razing down of the concrete remnants of the old Gabaldon Building–with bare hands, I must say, and with the help of the barrio people. At the same time he was also teaching at the Guinarona Elementary School and would also do so at other schools of the outlying barrios.

1963 was the year Mr. Marinello came, and during that time, most Guinarona kids were like Mangyans–not in a pejorative sense, but in that we cavort around naked, malice be damned. The Guinarona fiesta that year was also memorable–as in a big typhoon hit Leyte on May 16, fiesta eve. Darn, that typhoon, although not as strong as Yolanda, was a total killjoy. Imagine our fiesta guests all cramped up in the master’s bedroom as the typhoon did its thing, with considerable damage to property.

As we rebuild Guinarona post Yolanda, Mr. Marinello gave us a wonderful gift, the gift of his photos–photos of Guinarona’s history, with which to reminisce the good old days and to face the future with as much resolve as his service.

Mabuhay!

5 thoughts on “An Upside to ST Yolanda

  1. Thanks for the kind words and the warmth of the welcome I received while a young man who did not know how good he had it, among the wonderful people of Guinarona, Dagami, Leyte!
    Fred Marinello

    • You’re the man, Fred Marinello. Thank you for reconnecting, for uplifting our spirits in the darkness of our night. You’re somehow one of the stars that our people wish upon. Maupay ug buotan ka nga tawo. Thank you!

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