Monday, November 11, 2013

Surviving Yolanda: Disaster in the Philippines

Unknown source

How can one community survive from a disaster called the worst to ever hit the country? How can one recover from overwhelming devastation?

Typhoon Yolanda with its Category 5 winds slammed into the islands of Leyte and Samar in Central Philippines last November 8. 2013. The disaster left a path of destruction which flattened both the concrete houses and nipa huts, and left dead bodies in its wake. The storm surge swept away homes and people. Nature gone mad. A poor community was rendered helpless and hopeless.

Right now, the roads are impassable due to debris and collapsed buildings and fallen electric cables. Misery is everywhere. Even as donations pour in and rescue efforts are underway, there are still some survivors sheltering in makeshift structures, bracing for the next storm, even as they mourn for their dead loved ones. A whole family torn apart; sometimes single survivors left to pick up their shattered lives on their own.

The images posted on the intranet are horrific to behold. Thousands of humans and animal lost, properties destroyed ; the once beautiful coastal areas transformed into a wasteland of rubbles and dead people and animals.

A whole community struggles, waiting for food and water from rescue groups unable to reach the isolated areas fast enough. The lack of electric power makes it difficult to communicate on the whereabouts and destinies of the people of Leyte. The fate of some loved ones are uncertain.

There is an outpouring of sympathy from people around the world. And yet, there are some heartless individuals who begrudge the help that the US government had sent to the Philippines and had demanded that monetary aid be redirected to help domestic people first. Self-entitlement and selfishness sometimes rear its ugly heads.

The rest of the caring world can only watch helplessly as heart-wrenching stories of loss are recounted by the survivors. Prompted by desperation, men and women sought out television cameras to plead for help and to connect with loved ones outside of the affected areas, mostly to tearfully announce which family member had passed away. Good or bad news, those who were left behind just wanted to reach out to anyone who may listen.

Filipinos are known for their resilience. The country had been plagued by natural disasters over the years, but its people had always bounced back from the trauma, made stronger by their faith and the optimism for a brighter future.

Could it be that most of the affected victims have been empowered by the harsh realities of life and that they have learned to live in the moment because the thought of thinking far beyond the present is inconceivable? When there's nothing in the horizon, one can only try to treasure the fact that their lives were spared then give thanks for another chance of redemption.

This latest tragedy had shaken us to the core and had rendered the future bleak and unimaginable. But there is no other option but to survive. To just take each day as it comes. To just hold on to the flicker of hope that there is still something worth living for. To just keep the Filipino spirit of resilience, against all odds.

To find something to smile about. To just find the courage to live again.

My heart bleeds for you, Philippines. Be strong.

All I can offer (aside from my donations) is a prayer that our countrymen in the Visayas will pull through yet another tragedy. Mabuhay.

Please donate:

Filipino Global photo- Amidst the destruction around them, these kids still managed to find something to smile about. A testament to the resiliency of children

Thank you, Anderson Cooper, for the brave reporting. You bared the ineffective rescue efforts in the country and incurred the criticisms from those who were offended by the truth. There are lessons to be learned in a disaster; it's just too bad that these lessons came at the expense of the victims.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”