Thursday, November 14, 2013

Haiyan... again!

I'm no different. I use social media as an avenue to be heard, minuscule my audience or not, and so is the rest of the world. I have read so many posts about the Haiyan tragedy, so many articles, seen so many clips with everyone's take, point of view and what have you. Every praise, every criticism, every opinion. Someone reposting something he/she has read and trying to influence another reader to believe in it. I wonder what really is the agenda behind all of these?? As I said on my previous post, I hope the help is genuine and not in any way political. But interesting enough the political influence that I was hoping would not cloud the initiative to help the victims had gone, well, viral...

This is not about who is right or wrong, who needs to shut the hell up or not, nor influence what a person needs to do. This is about helping and the urgency for that aide. There will always be someone who will not care, who would continue with life as it should be, someone who would talk. There would be people who would provide a smart or stupid opinion i.e. racist comment by a Canadian teacher, and there is nothing we can do about it. That's freedom of speech. Just be ready to own up on what you say, especially in a time of crisis, because you would be subjected to scrutiny and judgement if you do, right or wrong regardless. As they say in the court of law, what you say can and will be used against you. I guess what I don't understand is the need to criticize people who are in the battlefield and can see what is going on as suppose to people who are miles away and who's intel comes from people other than themselves?? The ironic part is the need to defend oneself from reports that may very well be true? Now, this is not to undermine the people and the officials who are truly helping out in this time of need. There is no need to defend them. Their arsenal is the deed they are doing and reports about it would come freely if the act is evident. Maybe not immediate nevertheless it will. I do agree with a lot but not all of what CNN's Anderson Cooper reported and the one that really stands out for me is that there really is no organized effort (organized is the key) to help the victims. Maybe now there are signs, now that it is Day 6 and almost a week after. But it took that long?? The urgency in awareness is there alright but the urgency in action is the one missing.

Case in point.. when Japan was struck by that deadly tsunami a few years ago, on Day 2, the military is already going through debris and rubble to help find survivors and dead bodies. We can't let the actual survivors who just went thru hell be the ones to do this for themselves, right?? Sure there are reasons why it is taking too long to reach those areas that are isolated and remote and that there is no faster way to get through it. But this is what Cooper perhaps is pertaining to (or at least the way I understood it) that if access was the problem, shouldn't that be the first on the agenda? And while a sector of the government or military is doing that, another leg should be in charge for distribution and logistics. Should there be someone to map out what the operation is all about and delegate the priorities to the resources available? I know it sounds so easy and I'm not a certified tactician myself but that is what the government is for isn't it? They have men and women, elected and appointed, at a governing level who are capable enough to come up with a game plan and have it executed effectively and efficiently. A game plan, exactly. Organized as pointed out.

However, this is what I am talking about where politics come into play. The Philippine government, as a whole, has dug itself a deep hole, credibility and image-wise, long before this tragedy had ever happened. So whether their efforts to help is truly legitimate or not, there would still be doubts. It is part of it so let it be. Again, the authenticity of the act will speak for itself and there is no need to go to the Press or social media and defend the efforts of those who are being scrutinized but wholeheartedly is helping. It is not the image you project but the sincerity of your action because publicity should be the last thing on their minds. Filipino politicians are too conscious about what is being reported about themselves and honestly are not used to being criticized intensely and on an international scale. The goal really by CNN and other non-partisan networks is to inform the public. And whether they forget or just choose not to air the positive side of things, perhaps as a means to motivate and push for quicker help, this is nothing to be worried about. The glory will come down the line and the only validation you need would come from the survivors themselves. That is the one that counts, the ONLY one that counts. Unless of course you are (again) politically-driven, then your goodwill will surely be tainted.

I guess there is always a political twist in everything, whether in a time of need or even in triumph. And maybe my plea to make the rescue efforts to be non-political is absurd. Yet that should not deter me from sharing what I believe should be the ideal intention. I am far away and can easily be accused to be in no position to rant as I put myself into an ironic state. But I will in a heartbeat be at ground zero if I am able to. My two-cents may not count, maybe this is just another article worth ignoring. But I have already earned my right to speak because I made my pledge and my drive is not for glory but merely to put in my share of concern. I will say it again, I have and will continue to pray for the victims and for true help to be genuine and not in any way, no matter how preposterous this may sound, be political...


Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Sadness and hope at the same time. Sadness, as I read stories about the tragedy that is Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda that hit my hometown, the Philippines. Hope, that such calamity will strengthen the pride and bring out the true meaning of unity within Filipinos and the world as a whole.

I heard the news last week and was worried, almost feeling that I needed to heed the warning despite being oceans away from where the monster storm would wreck havoc. But what can I do, this is what Mother Nature has intended. The typhoon will happen and the path has been mapped. I can only pray that the meteorologists were wrong with their forecast but I couldn't bet on it. Come Thursday night (Friday morning in the Philippines) I wonder what's going on. I relied mostly on social media to status me of how things are in those affected areas and there was not a lot of factual news. Just a lot of speculations at that time as communications, as anticipated, has been limited. Though I know that my family and friends back there are far away from the actual location, it did not at all diminished the worry and sadness I felt for those whose lives will be forever altered.

As Haiyan finally hits central Philippines, news started to flow in. I witnessed a story of how fast the flood has risen from ankle to hip to head deep. The strong winds were scary and the horizon is barely visible due to the heavy rains. All sorts of debris were drifting in the air like fireflies in a bug-infested night. People helplessly trying to find higher ground, shelter or anything dry just to get some form of relief and security. I saw videos one after another of the trending events and it was disheartening for I knew I was witnessing a section of civilization simply getting annihilated. As the sun starts to rise on my morning that day, it was dark as night to my fellowmen on the other side of the planet.

A day after the destruction, the media were a bit free from obscurity but the news were anything but. Finally seeing the wrath and the destruction that Haiyan bestowed upon the provinces, I was heart broken. It was too crushing to watch, almost unbearable to see such carnage. I heard all sorts of things from residents searching for loved ones from piles of rubble, hoping against hope that they are still alive, to looting brought about by desperation and not because of innate evil. Infrastructures were just torn into pieces, lives stolen by fate and an entire city succumbing to bedlam.

Overwhelming the aftermath maybe, the support from all walks of the world were equally astonishing. Several nations answered the call and have pledge monetary and other forms of assistance or aide. I've never seen social media as active as its been, from Tyra Banks to Hollister Co, showing and asking for support and prayers to Haiyan victims. Friends and peers alike have reached out to me to ask if any of my family, relatives or friends have been affected. That simple gesture really made me teary-eyed. Reading posts from friends who are making concerted efforts to provide their own little way to help those affected to me earned a vote of respect. So for those individuals, institutions, countries, the UN and especially the United States who are providing significant help, as I'm sure I speak on behalf of the majority of concerned Filipino citizens, a heartfelt thanks is in order.

Now like in any social event, whether the good, the bad or the different, there is always a political twist in everything and sometimes a slice of truth pie. Days have passed and it seems like the Philippine Government is taking forever to mobilize the Armed Forces to help those in need. Even CNN's Anderson Cooper, who arrived in Tacloban City on Day 5, thought he was too late to capture the actual struggle but clearly showed some disbelief on why the pace to help the victims is so delayed and staggered. There was a call for corrupt elected-officials to take a pause from their ill-doings for if there was a perfect moment for them to earn their stature as leaders of the country, this was it. There were also concerning messages from either naive or simply Filipino-hating people who had nothing better to do but to air their tactless opinions on social media. The timing is certainly not right so it may truly come to many as something unforgiving. I also read articles that challenges a person's conscience to help or simply avoid celebrations in this time of need. Although I understand the rationale for such cry, I do not want to tell a person to halt his life for a moment and feel like he is obligated to do something involuntarily. Life does go on and instead of trying to ridicule those who, for whatever reason, has other things in their minds, it would be more productive to focus the attention to those who actually are helping out. This should not create much fuss at all. But I know that if you have some interest in social events in general, then no matter how disconnected you are from their world, this would move you.

I still wonder how the Philippines would get out of this unfortunate incident. What I know is that the effort is not quite enough and I worry that even in such unprecedented disaster, Philippine politics would still play a deceiving role.  I just hope that the sight of survivors living in makeshift shelters while their dead lies in front of them is enough to humble the greedy. Have and will continue to pray for the victims and for true help to be genuine and not in any way be political.