November 22, 2013

Two weeks after Haiyan/Yolanda

It's been two weeks since super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck the Philippines.

I didn't know what to think, say or do. Everything seemed trivial. All my concerns seemed petty and of no consequence, especially when I see what happened to my kababayan in the Visayas. I'm a true-blue Manila girl, but an Aklanon by marriage.

But Haiyan/Yolanda defied regional borders. It doesn't matter if you're not from the areas affected, or if you're not from the Philippines. If you saw what happened and you have a semblance of a heart, you'd want to help. And you'd want to help immediately.

I tend to avoid watching the news when something like that happens. I go around our house looking for stuff to donate, and then I read and watch the news (Philippine Star, BBC and CNN).What I saw struck me with horror. I tried my best to stay positive and hopeful, but honestly, I had mixed feelings for quite sometime, which eventually solidified.

I felt:

-  An overwhelming desire to help those who were affected. To really be out there and volunteer my services. But since I'm so far, donating and spreading the word are the best things I can do even if it still doesn't feel enough. : (

-  Proud of all the volunteers. Those who wanted to helped, helped. Seeing people stirred to action and helping those in need showed that the Filipinos and the Philippines aren't lost causes.

-  Frustrated at the slow pace of the relief efforts. Especially when I heard that instead of fast-tracking the delivery of relief goods, certain government entities were actually slowing things down. Survivors might've survived the typhoon, but hunger and starvation would've gotten them. Haiyan was an unstoppable force of nature; the delay in relief goods distribution was man-made. Of course people would get mad at the slow pace. Duh.

-  Aghast and furious at the finger pointing and blatant politicking from certain government officials. Wala na talagang hiya, even in the midst of such a large-scale tragedy. Pero okay na rin na ganyan sila. Kailan pa ba lalabas ang tunay na kulay? Huwag lang sana'ng kalimutan ng mga Pilipino sa susunod na eleksiyon kung sino ang di dapat iboto. And what's up with slapping their names on the relief goods? It's such a jerk move. Maybe all of us who donated goods should label everything with our names as well.

-  Angry at things like they're only counting identified bodies as casualties. Are you saying the unidentified ones, even in their deaths, still do not count? WTF, seriously? Screw you all. Their lives meant something to their loved ones.There are people mourning them, whose lives are forever altered because their loved ones died.

-  Appalled at a couple I knew who went to Disney World for 16 days and spent $6,000. How did I know? Yeah, they posted it in Facebook. I know, I know, I'm being totally unfair - it's their money and they're entitled to spend it any way they want - but I can't help it.

-  Profound admiration for Anderson Cooper. We know what he did.

-  Curious about Mayor Duterte. Much has been said and written about him, but seriously, I'm impressed with this guy. He gets things done. I wish he'd continue what he's been doing. Too bad I didn't get to visit Davao City.

-  Empathy for Korina Sanchez. She was standing by her man, defending her husband, Mar Roxas. It would've been better had she laid out her cards along the lines of, "look guys, I'm saying this because he's my husband and I love him to bits. He means well, really, he does. Don't be so mean. He's trying his best, you know." At least she'd get a bit of my sympathy.

-  Confused about Mar Roxas and Noy-noy, trying so hard to show how they are in control and on top of things. On one point, they seemed desperate to ward off criticism that they're not in control, but the way they went about it reeks of insensitivity. To give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe both men are ill-advised. Now if they're not listening to advisers, then that's another matter. Other countries are offering their help, accept them. The country needs help in urban planning, storm surge modeling, relief logistics in natural disasters, etcetera. There's no shame in accepting help when you need it. With the many typhoons that affect the Philippines yearly, damn it, the country should be an expert on typhoon safety and preparedness already!

-  Grateful for the international support. Seeing so many countries rise up to the occasion to help a nation in need was just heartwarming. People who know that I'm from the Philippines asks me two questions, "how's your family in the Philippines?" and "how can we help?" How can I not be grateful?

To me, the power of the majority doing good outweighs whatever negative elements are out there.