It is already over a week since Yolanda (Haiyan), one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded, hit the Philippines and I am still at a loss for words.
I can’t even find the courage to begin describing the extent of massive destruction it brought to our lovely Visayan islands – how about 90% of certain cities were wiped out, how houses – concrete or wood, were washed away, how livelihood and businesses now gone. More importantly, I can’t even fathom the number of lives taken by this deadly storm – how many families are now broken, how many kids are now orphaned, how many old people survived but are now just waiting to die. It killed our people in all aspects thinkable. I can only imagine the physical, emotional and psychological trauma people who survived are experiencing today. Especially that only several days after the tragedy was relief and help felt. They may have been spared from the storm but today their greatest challenge is to survive – amongst the rubble they once called home, amongst the bodies of their dead loved ones rotting in the streets, with little water, little food, little of everything they need.
Immediately after the tragedy, help started to pour in. Big and small contributions were made by all Filipinos all over the world, thousands and millions of dollars were donated by the international communities, even their resources, technology and military/medical support were sent to aid. It is heartwarming to feel we are not alone in this.
I’d probably skip the part where I rant about my disappointment with our very own Government. They were criticized enough by the international and local communities and everyone of us has a lot to say regarding the matter. I’d probably just say that the whole system of giving relief is not as efficient as it should be.
Although lacking the resources to transport the goods from one island to another is not an excuse, we are living from each other islands and islands away for as long as we can remember and we have been battered storm after storm after storm for the longest time as well, we should have been more prepared with the logistics and air and water transportation should tragedies like this arise. But why? Oh, corruption. That’s why. BUT I should also salute those who have been working non-stop to help even before the storm came. There are still good people among the rotten ones and they need appreciation and credit for all the help they are giving and good work they are doing.
Now that lives are already lost and properties are already damaged, we can do nothing now but to direct all our efforts to help those who are still striving to survive, to act as their strength, to now be the family they once had. As proud as we are for branding ourselves as the RESILIENT PEOPLE, I simply refuse to use it as an excuse every time calamities come our way. Let’s not stop at being resilient, thinking we can always stand up from anything the nature will throw at us. As much as I love how the Bayanihan spirit is always alive, we cannot always help each other AFTER the storm. We cannot keep losing lives. We get hit by an average of 20 typhoons each year and at least one of them impacts us in the most disastrous way. Let’s not make Yolanda a regular occurrence. Please. No.
What can we do?
1. I beg all Filipino people, please use your voting rights to put responsible and reliable people into power. We need a strong Government who can protect our country from damages by allocating proper funds for better infrastructure and better planning of our cities so that no family is living in any danger zone – just to enumerate a few ways. We need a group of people who can efficiently aid victims of calamities in such a short amount of time despite geographical difficulties, who can reconstruct damaged roads, bridges, airports in a shorter amount of time. We don’t need someone who points fingers. Not now. Not ever.
2. I implore the people of the world to do something about CLIMATE CHANGE. Although I have no strong scientific evidence of its correlation with Typhoon Haiyan, I can speak of of what I notice: Summers are getting hotter, Typhoons are getting stronger. The Philippines is composed of 7,107 islands and bodies of water are everywhere. As much as we consider such a feature as our country’s most beautiful characteristic with the natural presence of beaches, waterfalls and all wonderful tourist destinations, the sad reality is that we are one of the most- exposed countries in the world to tropical cyclones and the rising sea levels due to global warming make coastal populations such as the affected Visayan islands susceptible to storm surges. We will always get the impact. We will always be vulnerable. But what if next time it won’t be just the Philippines? We cannot deny the fact that the world as we know it is slowly changing. Let’s make this our wake-up call. Please help save the Philippines and the whole world.