Whenever I write about something, I try my best to always keep it light or at least sound like it is. I really don’t like sad-themed-anything, movies with sad endings, books that tell dark stories, and events that just break your heart. I try to avoid them as much as I can, but these days, being sad and serious is unavoidable…
I’m sure you’ve heard about what has happened in the Visayan region back home in the Philippines, Yolanda (or Haiyan as it is more Internationally known) has practically wiped out everything in its path when it landed in our country. For the non-Filipinos reading, we Pinoys are very much used to typhoons, many have come and gone, and each year we experience them as part of our everyday lives. But this one really got us, especially the cities and towns in the middle part of the country.
Tacloban in Leyte is where McArthur made his historical come-back during WWII, where the longest bridge in the country can be found (San Juanico), and was for a short while in the 40’s even became our nation’s capital. But at present, the entire world’s eye is focused on it as it is one of the many other cities devastated by the biggest typhoon ever seen in history.
I refrain from watching video reports, I just stick to reading articles and news reports on the progress of help getting to them, my heart can only take as much.I struggle to find words to describe how I feel about this, except that if for someone like me who lives far away from the devastation feels this sad, I cannot even begin to imagine how it must feel for those back home. About ten years ago, our house caught fire leaving us with nothing but the shirts on our backs. I remember the feeling of disbelief of losing everything, but was also quick to be thankful that no one was hurt, and that I still had family nearby to take shelter in. But how do you go on, when everything around you is gone? Where do you go? Who do you turn to when everyone else is as much as in need as you are? Aside from the thought of many men, women, and children who perished, these are the sort of questions that burns in my head and tightens my chest with grief for those affected by this storm.
I know this kind of thing happens all the time, in some part of the world, but it kind of hits home when the degree of separation is closer, when it’s highly possible that someone I know knows someone who knows someone who lost somebody there. On Social Media sites, I often see status updates of friends asking relatives if they’ve heard from this certain other cousin/uncle/friend, and the feeling of helplessness just washes over you in empathy for what they must be going through.
And just so I can get it off my chest, it’s really irritating how even in this time when all the world is saddened by what has happened there are still those fellow Filipinos who seem oblivious to it all and cannot be bothered to avoid posting “selfies” and newly bought toys and gadgets, just until those affected find their bearings and help has been delivered to everyone. Do not even get me started on those who posts vague updates like “I feel so alone…” Unless you lost all your relatives in the typhoon your problems are a bit irrelevant to everyone else right now. And special mention to those compelled to express their irritation of being unable to get over a level in Candy Crush. If your lives are too important to be bothered, the least you can do is show a bit of awareness and sensitivity. I reluctantly digress…
Yesterday I visited the Embassy where JG’s colleagues in the consular department said that several of our kababayans who have lost loved ones, have come in to process papers in tears, so that they can go home. Like I said, no matter how far away we are, we are affected. And no matter how much I try to avoid it, being sad cannot be helped.
We Filipinos are a prayerful bunch, and I despite not being that religious am no exemption, and in times like this, that is one of the main things we can do. Help has also poured from all over; I too am humbled of news of other countries sending aid to help my countrymen in need. Back home I am reading of news of offices and organizations opting to use their Christmas party funds to send as donations instead. And that is a big deal because we love our Christmas parties, but how can you attend a party and be merry when someone else in your country will be spending the holidays in the aftermath of this tragedy?
Picture of kids breaking open their piggy banks or erecting a make shift lemonade stand to sell and send their sales to donate bring a smile to my face. I read this one story of a Filipina working here in Oman as governess to a little girl, who asked how much 1 rial costs in Philipine peso and was over the moon to find out that her measly savings can buy so much to help those in need. Hey even big shot celebrities are blasting tweets to send help as well.
I wish I can say that this is one of those things that we have gone through before, that Leyte and all the other Visayan provinces affected will be as good as new in no time. But this will need some time to get through, but I’m counting on the Filipino spirit to shine amidst it all.
I know only a handful of people read my blog, but in case you would like to help here are some of the links that can provide you with info on where or how to send them:
This is for those here in Oman who would also like to reach out, as well as the link to the Filipino Social Club if you would like to ask for further details.