To my dearest Philippines,
You were the country of my birth, the culture that raised me and nurtured me. We, your children that had grown up and moved out, a piece of us was always there and still is; most especially in this time of need. We weep for our friends, our family, and our loved ones. We cry for the destruction of our homeland. We suffer with you and we rally behind you. We have not forgotten all you’ve done for us and given to us. We band together now to heed your call for help and with us we bring friends.
This is the letter I wrote, the letter I want to send my countrymen. To bring truth to it I felt a need to do more than just a Facebook post. I needed to put action behind my words. I’ve reached out to my friends that have a reach far beyond my own. I want as many people to be aware that a country has been crippled and we need to help. They don’t need “likes” on a social platform, they need food. They need prayers too, but they also need water and medicine. And after they heal their wounds, they need a means to rebuild their lives.
The 7.1 Earthquake, Followed by a Category 5 Typhoon
Photography and Videography have the power to show people across the world exactly what’s going on instantaneously. When I heard about the massive typhoon in the Philippines, I knew it was disastrous, but I didn’t know how devastating it was until I saw these photos. The preliminary reports were already scary, the images that were posted drove the impact home.
Just three weeks ago, the island of Bohol in the Philippines was struck by a deadly earthquake with a 7.1 magnitude that took the lives of 222 people. Just as they begin the struggling road to recovery, they got hit by a category 5 typhoon. Winds reached 195 mph and 20 ft. waves destroyed entire cities where not one building was left intact. There were warnings of the incoming typhoon, but I don’t think they were able to grasp the magnitude of its fury. How could they? It was nothing like anyone had experienced.
The Philippines experiences 20-25 typhoons a year and some sectors are quite familiar with the procedures and preparations. Growing up, I remember the warnings that would come through the radio declaring the level of calamity for a typhoon. In the 18 years I spent there, the worst I had ever even heard of was a level 3 and in some small distant island somewhere, maybe a level 4. Typhoon Haiyan was a level 5. There was no way anyone could have predicted just how much destruction it would create.
My Family and My Friends
One of our friends lives on a beach resort she owns and runs. We keep up with each other on Facebook. Over Halloween she had just posted about the latest of their improvement projects at the resort and I had congratulated her over the completion of the front gate. On November 4, she posted that she just heard about the storm and was tracking its progress. On November 7th, she posted: “No wind, no rain, total silence…this is getting scary!” We found out from friends that despite evacuation measures, she decided to stay at the resort and reported that they were prepared with food and supplies. Today her Facebook wall is full of people trying to get a hold of her and there is only silence. Guiuan, the town she is in, was reportedly the touchdown point for Typhoon Haiyan. The news trickles out today and the storm plastered the town. The only structure that is still intact is an airport strip; everything else is gone or severely damaged. I fear for my friend. We’ve added her to the missing persons list. The reporter that came out of Guiuan to share the information says that people were evacuated to stable structures like schools, churches, hospitals, but those very structures were destroyed and the people in them scattered like ants. Power is out, food, water and medicine is scarce. People are panicking and desperate. There is no order, only chaos. The people that would have maintained order are themselves affected and at this point just too battered to be of any help. They are waiting for the troops to come in and save them, but they don’t know that they are just one of many cities suffering from the devastating typhoon.
The eye of the storm passed through an island named Leyte, where I have extended family. Lea, a girl who has worked for my family for the last 10 years is from the island of Leyte. When she moved to Manila to work for us, she left her mother to take care of her son on the island. We haven’t heard any news from either of them. On Leyte, they are estimating a 10,000 body count in that island alone. I am hoping and praying that such a number is an exaggeration. How can this be? I am so thankful that Manila was spared, but my mother’s heart grieves with Lea. I can’t even begin to imagine her pain. The silence, the waiting, it’s the worst.
How You Can Help the Survivors
This country, my country, my people, they’ve suffered so much and they’ve proved themselves resilient. They have suffered through a plundering government, battled with corruption, lived through countless natural disasters. My people that have met each challenge and smiled through it and plowed on. How could they possibly recover from this?
I’m asking you, each of you to be thankful for your families, for your homes and for the comfort that your lives afford you. Then I’m begging you to help the people of the Philippines.
The people in Manila are doing what they can to round up supplies. My aunt, who lives there, has been helping coordinate food, medicine, clothing and water to be shipped to the surrounding areas. You can donate using various organizations like the Philippine Red Cross. 1 U.S. Dollar is equivalent to 42.4127 Philippine Pesos. Click HERE to donate to the Red Cross. Also, my friends at Utterly Engaged, a wedding magazine, have set up a website you can donate to as well: For Philippines With Love (#ForPhilippinesWithLove). Click HERE to help or to pick up a banner you can use to show support and to spread the word on the social media platform of your choice.
“I have no house, I have no clothes. I don’t know how I will restart my life, I am so confused,” an unidentified woman said, crying. “I don’t know what happened to us. We are appealing for help. Whoever has a good heart, I appeal to you — please help.”