The story of the three dogs.

It was the day that Typhoon Rolly roared through Albay that I learned more about the circumstances of the three dogs.

I had been staying in my abode since May, having decided to cancel my work trip from Manila to New York and London, and instead to return here to the province of Albay. The dogs live in a nipa hut — a shelter made of cement, bamboo and dried coconut leaves — on the rooftop of the same building.

Rolly was the strongest typhoon in the world this year according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. The wind was pounding and the rain was ceaseless. The night was frightening. The aftermath was a severe, depressed mood in our region.

Upon waking and checking those next door, my neighbour and I realised that the dogs may have been badly affected by the typhoon. With haste, we went to the rooftop to check them. We found them safe, but dampened and cold.

We immediately opened the gate so the dogs could come down. While it seemed evident from their forlorn faces that help was needed, there was also fear to step nearer to us. To invite them to move nearer to a safe spot, we served food in a plate, but they were still reluctant to venture closer. We made several attempts to bring them down, but failed. There was regret from us. Our only hope was that they regain their strength from the food we left near at the gate.

There has been so much turmoil in our world this year. Philippines has experienced a grave amount of chaos and tragedy brought about by political clutters and natural calamities. Sometimes, I ask myself — How can I resolve something that is way bigger than the power that I have? No matter how I hold on to hope and courage, exhaustion and sadness overwhelm me at times.

The three dogs survived the typhoon. They are now settled in a better shelter at the same rooftop, where they have been accustomed to the environment since they were young. Never have they left the area, even during typhoons.

The incident reminds me that I can’t always influence the world, even with a great desire to help the lives of others. Accepting their decisions and showing empathy and kindness through small thoughtful acts can improve humankind.

Here’s to 2021, my dear friends.