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.


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