The Rise of the Phoenix

Shangi
Hello, everyone. I haven't really written anything for a very long time but I am more than compelled now to do so for the sake of reaching out to every soul that gets to read this. As you all may know by now, my beloved country, the Philippines, was struck by Typhoon Haiyan which is regarded as one of the most horrific typhoons in recorded history. When the initial reports came in of a storm that was about to cut through our islands, some may have wondered, "So what? The Philippines eat typhoons for breakfast, lunch and dinner...even for midnight snacks too." I must confess that at first, I kind of shrugged it off and shared the same sentiments. But when I took a closer look at it, I realized that this was no ordinary yey-to-suspended-classes kind of storm...this was a monstrosity of a storm that was about to engulf my country.

People from areas that were most likely to get hit by the storm, including my sister and brother who were left to tend to our house back in my hometown, Cebu, were advised to prepare and expect the worst. The storm came and went without us really knowing yet the full extent of damage. Fortunately, our home is in Cebu City and most of the residents and properties were left either unscathed or suffered minimal damages. But sadly, the people from the northern tip of our island and other neighboring islands that consist of world-renowned pristine beaches (Malapascua, Bantayan), Tacloban, Ormoc, Samar etc. did not come out as lucky as we did.

Malapascua Island then...


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Malapascua Island now...


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Bantayan Island then...


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Bantayan Island now...


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Tacloban then...


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Tacloban now...


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Photo credit : Erik de Castro/ Reuters
So what was so different this time? Storm surge. Imagine yourself standing on a totally flat surface and have violent waters gush in as strong and as fast as a tsunami. Imagine this while torrential rains and winds gusting at around 195 mph (314 kph) are coming at you in seemingly all directions. Would you stand a chance? No. I only explain this because some people out there have never witnessed a typhoon first-hand. I have lived in the Philippines for 20 years of my life and I tell you that even as we get used to it, these typhoons are a force to be reckoned with.

Being thousands of miles away from my hometown, social media instantly became my best friend. I kept my eyes peeled on Facebook and I was abusing the heck out of my browser's refresh button just to make sure my news feed was current. My heart sank further and further as the once selfie-filled social media platform has turned into a real-time disaster forum overnight. It is absolutely haunting to read hundreds of plights that were pouring in from friends and strangers who were and still are desperately trying to reach their family and friends, seeking for signs of life as the estimated death toll kept rising by the thousands. The country that has always kept its poise during typhoons and has the reputation to have one of the most resilient people in the world is now in a state of total panic and chaos.

No water. No food. No electricity. No shelter. No communications. Islands and cities have been obliterated from the face of the earth, leaving survivors fighting for their lives...to hold on until much-needed help arrives. People have resorted to looting establishments and homes just to survive. The city of Tacloban literally wreaks of death as bodies of those who perished are sprawled everywhere. News networks from around the globe feature video clips and photos of the aftermath while correspondents interview people who are left behind with wreckage and loss. Victims are weeping as they walk tirelessly with nothing but their muddied clothes on their backs, seeking or already mourning for loved ones they have lost amidst the rubble and debris where their homes once stood. The thought of all of this has left me crying helplessly, I wipe tears from my keyboard as I type this painful picture from the other far side of the world.

Photo credit: Eric De Castro/ Reuters
Photo credit : Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images
Light at the end of a very large, bleak tunnel. With this catastrophe at hand, there is simply no time to waste. Every minute counts and my fellow Filipino brothers and sisters have organized their own relief efforts to get to their loved ones as quick as they could while others donated and volunteered at their respective local and international relief organizations such as Red Cross, Unicef, etc.

Nations such as Australia, UK, USA, U.A.E., E.U., Russia, Germany, Canada, Japan and other neighboring Asian countries were quick to pledge millions of dollars in aid and sent reinforcements and manpower to ensure the efficiency of the distribution of relief goods. The big boys a.k.a. the US and the UK have deployed war ships and military personnel to assist in the relief efforts and medical missions. Google launched a person finder to help those who are still searching for their loved ones trapped in disaster areas. Those in the private sectors such as the NBA, Sony, Nikon, Ikea, Samsung, to name a few, have even pitched in.

Help in your own little way! And before you say you can't spare anything, take a look at that Starbucks coffee you've got in your hand. Or that Justin Bieber t-shirt that you've been eyeing for the longest time (don't worry, for the sake of my Filipino brothers and sisters, I will not judge you---for now). You could skip that and use your precious money to save a life instead. In this modern day and age, anyone can be a hero. Simply tweeting, instragramming, facebooking, blogging, texting, emailing about relief efforts could go a very long way, what more when you are a famous fashion blogger or a celebrity with millions of followers--- put your stalkers into good use! If you've got the power to influence and inspire whether a few or a thousand, it becomes your social responsibility to extend all your efforts for a better cause.

To those who are interested in donating cash and kind, please click the link below to find out which reputable organizations you can send your generous donations to.

CLICK THIS LINK TO FIND OUT WHERE YOU CAN SEND YOUR DONATIONS!

Philippine and American military troops help hand in hand to load food, water and other relief goods into a military aircraft.
Photo credit : Cheryl Ravelo/ Reuters
Doctors from Japan arrive to help with medical aid for the sick and injured...


The overwhelmingly selfless acts of compassion and support from all over the world has proven one thing: No matter what color, religion, race, political persuasion we are from, humanity always prevails. We are but a tiny drop as individuals in this vast world but together, we are an entire ocean. This act of kindness and unity has set my perception of the world in such a different light. I will forever be indebted to those who have provided unfaltering support to the Filipino nation and rest assured, we will never forget those who came to our rescue.

I know it's going to be a long winding road for the Philippines to be able to get back on its feet and fully recover but I firmly believe that just like the glorious phoenix that burns to the ground, we shall rise from the ashes and rebuild.

To those who have kept the Philippines in their thoughts and prayers,
to those who volunteered hours on end in packing relief goods,
to those who sent both monetary and non-monetary donations,
to those who left the comforts of their own home to help out,
to those who have been gracious enough to restrain themselves from spewing insensitive commentaries and racial jokes about our country and defending us from those who did...

I would like to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my humbled Filipino heart.  Salamat kaayo ninyong tanan!


2 comments:

  1. great piece,pears! i'm glad you're back. things really do look bleak for now but we're getting stories of how even the poor in manila are giving what they can to the relief teams. faith in humanity slowly returning :)

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  2. I would say that this piece is topping the charts for my favorite pieces in your blog!! :)

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