Getting back up on her feet
MANILA, Philippines - In the lead-up to UNDP’s global Match Against Poverty for the Philippines, meet Margarette Sosing – one of the young footballers who shares her story in an upcoming film by renowned Swiss Filmmaker, Michael Steiner to be showcased in front of a live stadium crowd in Bern, Switzerland tomorrow night, March 4 (8 PM), where UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors and football legends Zinédine Zidane and Ronaldo will rally their team of internationally renowned football players for a charity match against the Bern professional football club, the BSC Young Boys and Friends.
Margarette Sosing, a 19-year-old BS Management student, was set to enroll in her last semester in the University of the Philippines - Tacloban. Then Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) happened.
Her mother insisted that they go to their ancestral house in Palo, Leyte. They thought they would be safe there - the house, after all, protected her ancestors for several decades.
Prior to that fateful day of November 8, 2013, Margarette was a football player for the University's Football Club. Her team was getting ready for an upcoming match.
She did not know how strong the typhoon was or how devastating it would be. Apart from the clothes she wore, she left everything in the house her father and brother opted to protect. In a matter of hours, her possessions were reduced to 3 things: a football jersey, a pair of shorts and slippers – all of which were wet and damaged.
Sadly, the gentlemen of the Sosing household were no match for Yolanda. Just like the millions of people affected by the typhoon, they should never have stayed. It made no difference. The house that they were supposed to protect was barely recognizable in the mountain of debris.
As they walked towards Magallanes for hours, Margarette couldn’t control her emotions. She and her mother were nervous. They never thought a catastrophe of this magnitude could hit Leyte. Her anxiety heightened when she did not hear from her father or brother.
Their cellphones were useless. They had no other option but to look at the familiar and unfamiliar faces, as well as the dead bodies, fallen trees, wrecked cars, and devastated houses.
A story of hope
Fortunately, their family was reunited. In front of what used to be the home of her mother’s employer, the family found each other and decided to walk hand-in-hand to whatever was left of their home.
"Hindi namin agad nahanap yung bahay. Nagulat kami. Halos walang natira sa buong lugar. Lahat, magkakamukha. Kung hindi pa namin nakita yung hagdan, hindi talaga namin mahahanap yung bahay,” Margarette said. (We weren’t able to find our house immediately. We were in shock – the whole area was devastated. Everything looked similar. If we didn’t see our stairs, we would have never found our house.)
The Sosing family wanted to see what else could be saved. Margarette was eager to know what happened to her football shoes. She had hoped to play again with her teammates in UP Tacloban. But most of all, she wanted to know if her teammates survived.
“Hinanap ko yung jerseys at yung sapatos ko. Baka pwede pa. Nung nakita ko, hindi na talaga magamit. Bumigay na,” Margarette said. “We lost everything. Walang natira. Wala na kaming bahay, kahit pinggan, wala.” (I looked for my jerseys and shoes hoping I’d still be able to use them. But it’s all worn out. I could no longer use it. We lost everything. Nothing was left. Almost everything was destroyed. We don’t have a house, not even plates.)
Margarette and her teamates found themselves left with nothing. Their football field was full of rubble. Playing football was nearly impossible even for players who loved the game.
“Hindi ako nakapaglaro ng isang buwan. Ang dami kasing nangyari. Hirap na hirap kami. Wala kaming mahingan ng tulong kasi lahat kami tinamaan. We’re struggling to live normally,” Margarette said. (I wasn’t able to play for one month. A lot of things happened. It was really hard for all of us. We couldn’t ask help from anyone we knew because everyone was affected. We were struggling to live normally.)
“Pero di ko napigilan. Nung huli, naglaro nalang ako ulit, kahit walang gamit,” she added. (But I couldn’t stop myself. At the end, I just started playing the game with whatever was available.)
In spite of the challenges, Margarette couldn’t turn her back on the sport that made her happy. She had enough of Yolanda. This time, she is putting up a fight. Yolanda can’t rob her of anything else, especially not football.
Margarette's determination to rebuild her life has inspired others to do the same. Her story, along with 10 other survivors of Yolanda, is now part of an upcoming film “The Football Wonder of Tacloban” by renowned Swiss Filmmaker, Michael Steiner. A 1-minute version of the film will be shown at the 11th Annual Match Against Poverty, an international football event organized by the United Nations Development Programme, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). A 7-minute version of the film will be launched in Manila in March.
This year, two-thirds of the funds raised from ticket sales and television rights will help Typhoon Yolanda victims. (This story first appeared in Rappler.com)