I first met Elmecito P. Tejada in our Tuesday bible meetings at L’ Espresso. But I never got to really know his name, probably because of age gap, he is 56.
We first had our quick conversation in January this year, in a medical mission in Lambaguhon for Sendong victims. He told me about his experience during the flood. What struck me was the “floating rice cooker” part of his story.
I told myself I should interview him on another day. It took many weeks until I chanced upon him in the church.
Elmecito Tejada is a pastor for New Life Iligan. An apostle type, he starts a church, but another pastor would manage it.
He said God never let him and his family struggle during their survival that dreadful night.
On December 16, they were supposed to go to CDO at 1pm, but Pastor Cocoy Sabarre of New Life Christian Center changed his mind, instead they went to Mugna (in Pryce) to prepare the booth for the Christmas bazaar.
It was good that Pastor Cocoy decided not to go to CDO, sometimes they would arrive in Iligan past 12 midnight.
He went home between 9:35-9:45pm, after the somewhat failed launching of the Christmas bazaar.
At 12:00am, he heard noises, but never mind about it. Then at 12:30am, a woman whom he only described as a suman vendor, was yelling at them from outside, telling them to wake up.
They went out of their house going to the car, together with his wife, son, apo, daughter, and son in law who arrived around 10pm, who owned the car.
The water level was already at the shoulder, but miraculously, the car’s engine still worked.
They went straight to Bonbonon, or any place higher. He said, ‘they could have died if they went down to the city proper’.
Her 3 year old daughter cried, seemingly asking for food at 4 am. They had no other choice, but to go down to their house in Lambaguhon.
As his son in law was wading the waist deep flood, he saw a floating rice cooker with cover in front of their house. When he opened it, there was rice, already cooked, full to the brim. They bought canned food in the village store, and the food sustained them for one whole day.
He thanked God again for saving them without a struggle, and God has always been good.