I will forget, for now, my usual blogging concerns. All I can think of are the harrowing stories from neighboring Yolanda-stricken provinces. I am pulled by two forces—the first being to mind my own business and go back to living my own life and of taking care of my own warm hearth and home, and the second being to etch the tragedy in my heart and help to the end.
I am posting these images even if looking at them causes a literal tightening in my chest. I will not look away, not when these people are simply a boat’s ride away and just a hundred or so kilometers from me. The United Nations has already declared that these people need help for the next 18 months. Yes, I will try my very best to keep a cheery spirit and keep the joy in my own home—even as I nurture a dull, sometimes sharp ache in my heart.
May these images rouse you from apathy. My blog does not have that much audience but if some humane heart stumbles upon these photos and gives towards Yolanda victims, I’ll be grateful beyond words.
These are not just debris. Bodies may be buried beneath these. These are wrecked houses. Broken dreams. Dashed hopes. We can rant all we want about how Filipinos throw garbage everywhere, of how we cannot stop from using plastic, of how we are culpable of our own environmentally-unfriendly practices, but we need help nonetheless.
This man may have lost a wife, a kid or kids, I don’t know. But he has to rebuild. But how? He probably has no savings in the bank, and whatever coins he may have in his house must have been washed away. He may be a farmer who has his carabao swept away by the raging waters, or a carpenter who lost his tools… I sure hope he has not lost his hope.
Beneath my efforts to return back to normal, I always inwardly groan for the children. Have these kids lost their parents? Perhaps their parents are lining up for relief goods, or scavenging food from debris, or worse, looking for food and candies from the pockets of corpses while these hapless little ones bake roofless under the sun. I can only wonder where these kids will lay their heads on to sleep at night. Should a tragedy of this proportion hit my own city and plunge us to this devastation, I am not sure I could hold on to sanity or sobriety, but by the grace of God.
Children are resilient. They are simple, uncomplicated souls. They can be distracted by a toy or lollipop. Or could they? Do these sacks they are pulling contain food to tide them over till the next day? Will they find dry clothes they could wear?
What are the thoughts behind the bruised eyes and the glazed look of this boy? He seems to be a sharp, thoughtful boy, an honor student perhaps, or a smartaleck chap who could be the next hero. Where will he go to school? Is there still a park where he can run around?
I have always been apolitical. I come from two family lines who have thrived and flourished by their own industry and sheer work ethic without much help from the government. I have always been self-reliant. I no longer get mad at injustice but, like most Filipinos, look at corruption as somewhat of an incurable malignancy in this country.
Yet the 5-day starvation these typhoon victims have to go through because we only have 3 C-130s to bring in relief goods, because we have very few planes, few trucks, few heavy equipment and because some politicians have to plaster their names on relief good bags—while in our august senate halls a woman and her cohorts are being tried for stashing billions of Filipinos’ money—these have created a smoldering anger within me. People are reduced to scavengers and beggars, to drinking water from muddy canals and to sleeping next to the rotting bodies of their children at night because my country’s rich resources are funneled to a few pockets.
To our foreign friends who have graciously helped, please do not give up on the Philippines. We may be on the verge of a revolution that will soon sweep away our aging politicians and bring in a new breed of youthful, idealistic statesmen– that is if we could quell the massive exodus of our country’s brightest minds. We hope you could see us through as our country and her people struggle to emerge from this desolation.
God bless us all.
Here is how you can help.
(Update: I sent a link to this post to my employers and one of them sent me $90 as donation for typhoon victims. I am most humbled to be of service to my countrymen in my own little way.)