Giving Back After Typhoon Yolanda

A recap article of the list of help, local and foreign, we have received

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It was on the 8th of November when a super typhoon of unprecedented power made landfall in the islands of the Philippines. The ones greatly affected were the poorest communities whose frazzled circumstances were even further heightened by this storm. How traumatic was this phenomenon? It caused damage affecting 9.7 million people, displacing 3 million, killing 6,009, and destroying 384,000 acres of rice, corn and other crops worth $105 million.

How could the thought of surviving such aftermath even cross one’s mind? A simple answer would be the unquestionable resilience that the Filipinos have. A person once posted, “At the end of the day, the Filipinos will just shake off the dirt from their clothes and go about their business and smile. Maybe this is why they were given the ‘privilege’ of bearing the burden of the strongest typhoon ever recorded.” Furthermore, Typhoon Yolanda didn’t just come and go without leaving anything in our hearts and minds. It made us value our relationships more, be more grateful for all the blessings we have and most importantly, made us want to give back in these desperate times. This was a wake-up call for everyone. Surprisingly, the help that our country received was beyond comprehension.

One of which were the Tacloban prisoners who fled from a flooded jail after helping their families with the storm’s aftermath. A lot of local organizations like ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya, DSWD and more were also actively participating in the relief operations packing. It was a never-ending work load for all of the people who voluntarily participated in this movement. Different universities and schools also had their own relief packing up until now. Clothes, canned goods, milk, coffee and water are just some of the goods that people donated. There was also this movement where a great number of restaurants implemented ‘dine for a cause’. They donated all or a percentage of their profits to the Yolanda victims.

One of the most heart-warming gestures was how the Japanese returned their favor to our country. This was the time when the Philippines contributed to relief efforts following the 9-magnitude earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, which triggered a tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people. “We will never forget what the Philippines did for us in 2011”, said Kenzo Iwakami of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), team leader of the Japanese medical mission. “This time, we have to help you because two years ago, you helped us. So this time, this is our turn,” said Dr. Joji Tomioka, subleader and medical coordinator for JICA’s medical team for disaster relief. They brought a team of 25 medical workers and disaster relief experts from Japan that arrived in Manila immediately. The Japanese medical team was composed of three doctors, seven nurses, two pharmacists, five medical coordinators and officials from JICA and the Japanese foreign ministry. They were among the numerous medical rescuers who took part in aiding the locals who survived the super typhoon.

Besides Japan, countries like the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, and a whole lot more extended their help. The list continues to go on and the amount of help they have given were just overwhelming. Fellow ASEAN countries and even our European neighbors sent airplanes, rescue experts, financial aid, medics, experienced doctors and nurses, and relief goods for the victims.

It’s just amazing how in times like these, we see how united everyone is. Truly, no amount or donation is too small. And with the help of our fellow Filipinos and foreign brothers, it is by no doubt that the Philippines will stand up again after this storm that hit. Like what Elizabeth Edwards once said, “Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”

Words by: Kathleen Valerie Kho

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