Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Helping those in need goes beyond age, gender or geographic location

There are days when I get homesick. I crave for Filipino food, notably, pancit canton and Mr. Kabab (QC branch). But above all, what I miss most about my country are the people living in it. And I'm not just talking about my family and friends, I mean Filipinos in general. 

For those who have had the pleasure of visiting the Philippines or getting acquainted with a Filipino in their lives, you would agree with me when I say that we're a bunch of warm people. We offer the sincerest smiles, are always ready with a helping hand, and give the best of what we have, even if we don't have plenty.

I recall going to an immersion when I was a sophomore in college. The point of the program is to expose us to real life situations of the less fortunate and open our eyes to the realities of what our nation is facing. It was a 3-day immersion in a fishing and farming village in Batangas. My foster family lived in a small hut along the coast. Their hut is too small to fit a family of 6. They didn't have basic amenities--a toilet or a sink--but when they came to greet me and 3 of my friends at the front of their door, they looked more than happy to accommodate visitors at their humble abode.

They brought out their best fruits and drinks, cooked fishes and squids that they caught earlier that morning knowing that they were expecting company. They even offered me and my friends the only bedroom that had a bed in it. At the end of the 3-day immersion, they even gave each of us a sack full of vegetables to take home to our families in the city. Their village is not passable by vehicles so we had to hike for about an hour to get to there. It was already quite a hike under the scorching sun and adding a load in the form of a sack full of vegetables was a bit painful. We were tempted to not take them with us because above it being added weight, those vegetables actually amount to 1/2 of their day's earnings. However, we knew that it would break our foster family's heart not to take them so, we gratefully did.

It was indeed an eye opener. My realization was that some people are so rich, all they have is money, while there are people out there who have far less, yet, they can smile and live their lives with so much happiness.

This is an illustration of how Filipinos are and I believe that it's a big reason why we're generating so much help and support for those who have been greatly affected by super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. For those of you who are unaware, 6 areas in the Philippines have been badly affected by super typhoon, Yolanda/Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, the strongest the country has seen in two decades. To illustrate its strength, its wind forces were up to three times stronger than Hurricane Katrina.

My foster family is spared from the typhoon but unfortunately, it's not the same for over thousands who lived in the affected areas.

According to CNN, Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan is stronger than Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined. Watch the video above.

The typhoon washed away houses and areas near the shore
Photo from PhilStar

Photo from Mirror.co.uk

The aftermath of the super typhoon
Photo from Buzzfeed
I can only do so much from where I am, but at this point, any form of help would be appreciated--donations, money or volunteering. It's actually refreshing to see how people all over the globe have risen to the occasion to help other people, regardless of age, race or geographic borders, like these children in LA:

Globally, many countries have broken borders to help fellow human beings in need.

Even China, a country that the Philippines has not been in good terms with has extended a helping hand with a donation of $100,000 in aid and another $100,000 through the Red Cross.

There's also a story being passed around in Facebook where a Filipino was approached by a couple in the airport in HK. The couple asked the woman if she is Filipino and when she confirmed that she is and is flying back to the country that same day, the couple gave her a $100 bill to donate to those affected by the typhoon because they saw everything in the news and are deeply saddened by it.

Stranded tourists in Coron also did their part for humanity.

Photo from 8list.ph

More importantly, it's wonderful to see fellow countrymen joining forces to help rebuild the nation.

My faith in humanity has been restored. There is hope for the world after all. For those of you reading this and like me, are outside of the Philippines and would like to help, here's a list of ways to reach out from CNN.

Also, here's an image of lists of organizations that are accepting donations.

I hope and pray that the donations are given to the right channels so the funds would be put to good use. With everyone's help, the Philippines will rise above this ordeal.

Photo by Romeo Ranoco/Reuters 

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