November 16, 2013 – Eight days after the biggest storm in history devastated the Philippines, a lot has been said and done, yet still tens of thousands are suffering out there in the typhoon-stricken places in Eastern Visayas.
Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) brought a calamity classified as Category 3 (the highest level) by World Health Organization, much like the Haiti earthquake in 2010. It is one of the most expensive disaster in Philippine history with financial losses that could reach up to $15 Billion (around P650 billion).
(Click the photo to enlarge and view in black.)
As I pray, give my time and resources to help the Yolanda survivors, I also want to share here some of the many vital lessons that I hope we, as a nation, have learned from this disaster.
1. Adapt and Prepare to Changing Times
At least 20 typhoons ravage our country yearly. Due to climate change, typhoons Ondoy and Maring wreaked more havoc to our nation, showing us the “new normal” when dealing with calamities.
Yolanda taught us that some of our evacuation sites cannot stand against fierce winds and heavy rains of a Signal #4 typhoon. Some of the schools, churches, and gymnasiums used as shelters are actually on bad locations.
I heard from the news that some foreign aids for Tacloban were delayed because of some government process. Some rules and regulations are made for ordinary (non-crisis) days. Our government must formulate (and execute – if none yet) policies and procedures designed for natural calamities such as this.
In reality, we cannot be too prepared for a crisis but at least some form of preparation will help us get through it.
2. Tell the Truth As It Is to Enable Prompt and Appropriate Actions
In this CNN news video clip, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas said “Nothing is fast enough in a situation like this. The situation is under control.”
The fact is that the situation in Tacloban (and elsewhere in Eastern Visayas) is chaotic and out of control. While I believe that the government is doing the best they can to address this complex issue, the government cannot do it all. It’s OK to say that we’re not OK sometimes – that we’re not in control of things.
Our country will not get the kind of help that we need (when we exactly need it) if we don’t tell the whole truth to the viewing public without sugar-coating it.
3. Filipinos’ Bayanihan Spirit Makes Things Better
The recent turn of events caused the public to use social media to help Yolanda victims. Means of donation and volunteering spread throughout Facebook and Twitter, along with the horrifying photos and videos of what transpired in the affected areas.
Church, showbiz personalities, and non-government organizations all made ways to send their support to our needy countrymen.
This infographic shows verified groups where you can donate. (Click the photo to enlarge and view in black.)
4. Our World Is Changed and United By Catastrophes
As this tragedy made worldwide news, even as 9.8 million Filipinos were affected, various nations of the world joined hands and sent humanitarian and financial aids, medicines and relief goods, temporary shelters and emergency personnel to help the Philippines.
And for all these, we’re very grateful.
5. The Filipino Spirit is Storm-proof – The “Real” CNN Compliment
After my fact-finding viral post on the false CNN statement, little did I know that it will just serve as a mere introduction to million other compliments that Filipinos will be honored for.
Here’s one documented compliment from CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
“Can you imagine the strength it takes to be living in shock, to be living, sleeping on the streets next to the body of your dead children? Can you imagine that strength? I can’t. And I’ve seen that strength day in and day out here in the Philippines. And we honor them with every broadcast that we do.”
And here in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), we will rise again, because we have a good and loving God. Despite all that we have lost, our faith and resilience remains…and grows ever strong.