Haiyan Aftermath, watching from the sideline

It’s been more than a week now since Yolanda first made its landfall in the islands of Samar and Leyte. Help has been coming through from various countries and reporters have been flocking around Tacloban and Samar for fresh news and videos for the world to know.

I remember a day before November 9, our management got us into a quick huddle and explained accountability and safety. The options were laid out on a powerpoint presentation wherein you can work from home, get to the office if the situation is safe, and always always ask for help from the company’s hotlines if in critical situation.

I went home early as PAGASA forecasted that landfall will be at 2AM Friday, and I woke up the next day disappointed that it wasn’t raining whatsoever. Thinking about it, I am ashamed of myself. When I was having a deep slumber, excited to hear the sound of rain, people were dying and running for their lives from the wrath of the biggest typhoon ever existed on Earth. According to a journalist from Samar who covered the devastating event, the typhoon made landfall earlier than expected and people were took shelter in gymnasiums as evacuation center. But a storm surge happened, wherein the wind was too much that the waters from the ocean rose up so high and started flooding the places. It was like multiple tsunamis with strong winds and heavy rains. The gymnasiums weren’t enough to keep the people safe, they had to move to a higher ground, which they didn’t have time to do so.

Seeing the photos and videos taken during and after the storm from newscasters who have covered the historic event, I felt like my heart was being ripped out. Babies, children, adults, animals, properties – all washed out and destroyed in just two hours. The very basic necessities a human needs were all gone.

Typhoon Haiyan – Tacloban
It was reported that the President was disappointed at how the local government had handled the situation. Most of the people would blame the national administration. Some would blame PAGASA for not explaining the term “storm surge” and for not elaborating the possible events that might have happened, which indeed happened. Provision from the government did not arrive as fast as everyone wanted. And the netizens are in rage, throwing stick and stones, most specifically to the government, to the president and to the corrupt politicians, even dragging names such as Janet Napoles. There are too much going on, too many words exchanged, and a great number of dead people and citizens who need help.

First, the Philippines is an archipelago and a third-world country. We should not think Philippines the way it is not. We do not have the facilities to make the relief effort faster. We don’t have the capacity to make everyone as safe as they should be. We are not US, Japan, Europe or UAE. We are not supposed to compare ourselves to such countries. The discipline of these people is so much different from ours.

Remember Fukushima? Strong earthquake and gigantic tsunamis. My mom and I were talking about it one dinner and I relayed to her how devastating the result was and how I wanted to help. Mom being Mom, who has been to many places and saw how life works out there, answered me “Japan can handle that. They’re a strong, rich and very disciplined country. They have always known how to handle such situations. Everyone’s aware of what could happen to their country, today or tomorrow.” I’m not sure if the countries who are helping us right now have helped Japan the way they do in Philippines. As far as I know, they’ve helped, but not as much as the way they help Philippines, because they know, for a fact, that Japan can handle it, they’ve always did.

The government can be partially to blame, as they receive help from allies which is supposed to be invested in facilities in case there are wars and such. I guess this is a wake-up call to the government and to every Filipino. This is actually the result of the extreme corruption in Philippines. Because of this, we have not invested enough to high-technology facilities and equipments. Always take note though, this is not because of PNoy, of his incompetence, of his slowness to react to such tragedies. Please don’t forget that two months ago, Bohol was also struck by a huge earthquake and now this. Which is which, both needs help. Obviously, Philippines couldn’t handle this for now.

May this tragedy be a daily reflection to everyone, especially to the ones who are in a position, that maybe it is time for a change. This is the change that everyone always wanted – integrity and discipline. These two characters will fuel the change that we Filipinos want. These two will stop corruption. These two will lead Philippines soaring high.

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This is not a time to play the blame game. This is not a time to point out the flaws of the government, to point out the character of Filipinos (because as much as we tell ourselves that the Filipino spirit is the strongest in time of calamities, we can’t deny the fact that we’ve lost lives due to neglection, stubbornness and to “bahalana” system), and to highlight the helplessness of the country.

Let’s stop talking. Let’s stop throwing blames. Instead, let’s all stand up and actually help. If you think you can do better than the government, then that’s good. But don’t let our words be just words. Let’s always remember that actions speak louder than words, and so much better. Let’s help in any way we can. If we find the government slow enough, then if possible, let’s volunteer all the way out to Tacloban, Samar and Capiz and let’s show them that this is how it’s done. But until you are not actually doing anything, you have no right to start blabbing and bashing around anyone. Your comments and status and blog posts won’t be able to feed thousands of people.

If we are to be positive and look at the bigger picture, almost all major countries, even China who we have territorial feud with, are helping the Philippines. This shows that it is possible to help each other and actually be in cease-fire. Perhaps, this may be the first step to our much wished-for “world peace”.

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May the good Lord bless your souls.

You don‘t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will. – John 13:7

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