Pope Francis experience gives hope to ‘Yolanda’ survivor-board exam topper

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MANILA, Feb. 13, 2015 – A typhoon Yolanda survivor, who topped this year’s physical therapy board exam, said seeing Pope Francis during his recent trip to the country reawakened her hope for the future.

Pope Francis called on young Filipinos at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) not just to recycle or use eco-friendly products, but to have a sense of stewardship over the environment, Jan. 18, 2015. (Photo: Torio Flojo)

Pope Francis called on young Filipinos at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) not just to recycle or use eco-friendly products, but to have a sense of stewardship over the environment, Jan. 18, 2015. (Photo: Torio Flojo)

“Pope Francis’ visit allows me to hope that no matter what we have lost, a family or material things, Jesus will remind us that He is always with us through our pope’s presence for example so life must continue,“ said Krizelle Lou C. Sampayan, a scholar of a private foundation and an alumna of Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Medical Foundation in Tacloban, Leyte, who bagged the top spot in the boards this February.

Rosary, pencil

“Pope Francis gives me confidence that God is with me,” said Krizelle who brought with her a rosary and pencil when she took the test. She considers Pope Francis visit to University of Sto. Tomas (UST) also as “a way of God for [the faithful] to sacrifice in order to achieve something.”

Despite the intense review in January before the visit of the Holy Father and even without fellow reviewees to accompany her, Sampayan camped outside UST as early as 9:00 p.m. the night before Pope francis’ Jan. 18 visit to the university.

She considered it an opportunity to see the pontiff whom she believes “is very close to Jesus.” Sampayan, who queued for long hours just like thousands of others, saw him up close after edging her way to the front line.

Eyewitness accounts

The young woman and her companions first learned about the devastation typhoon Yolanda from a man in dirty clothes inside the same Tacloban-bound van she rode from Calbiga. The man said dead bodies lined the streets of Tacloban and asked her group why they needed to go the city.

According to Sampayan, true enough, they saw the corpses and levelled houses and structures in Tacloban. After an hour, they decided to head back to Calbiga, bringing along with them a child entrusted to them by her mother.

Sampayan seated the child on her lap during their trip back to Basey. They were the first ones who informed Calbiga locals of the extent of the damage caused by the super typhoon.

According to her, it is her inspiration to share the lessons she learned as a Yolanda survivor, “that our life requires faith, a strong faith in God.”

“When you are with God, you are in good hands. We can surpass all the trials if we are with God, if you choose to be with Him,” she said. (Vanessa M. Puno/CBCPNews)

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