Manila is finally drying out and beginning to rebuild itself. It’s been a tough few days and the stories are heart-wrenching. I haven’t ventured far enough out of Makati to experience the places where devastation was the greatest, but just hearing the first-hand stories is enough to paint a vivid mental image.
Not that I would ever wish to be personally impacted by the Typhoon, but it’s been especially challenging to feel like it was just a blip on my radar and for some less than a mile away it wiped out everything they owned. I just can’t get my mind around the disparity between the impacted and the spared. It doesn’t really even seem real to me, like these images coming out are from someplace far away, not the city I live in. For the time being I’m continuing to grapple with the reality of what happened and identify as many ways as possible to share my resources.
Many of you have asked about Norma and I apologize for not updating sooner. She left our house on Saturday night at 6 PM and we weren’t able to connect with her until 10 AM on Sunday. Her story is just another one of the amazing ones. When she left our place she intended to get on a bus, but they weren’t running. A group of people at the bus station decided that they would WALK TOGETHER to their homes. That’s right, I said Walk! It’s a 5-6 miles journey, which was complicated by the chest-high waters that she walked through the entire time. I wish we could have gotten her to stay, but there’s no keeping a mother from her daughter. And so 7 hours later she arrived home safe and sound (albeit very sore and tired). Her house was not flooded and her family was all safe. Same thing for Rudy, our driver. We feel extremely fortunate, as most households with help had very sad outcomes from the flood.
Yesterday I sent over a load of food and clothes to a driver of an expat family who is the sole provider for 4 kids and had his entire house swept away. I tell you, I didn’t hesitate for one second as I handed over 30 cans of ravioli (among many other things). And you all know how much I covet my ravioli, but it just felt so good to give stuff away! I also parted with my entire collection of Bennie t-shirts, which seemed like a fitting thing to do to honor Bennie day. Now there is beginning to be a shift from collecting to doing and I’m hoping to get in on a local feeding at a soup kitchen in the next few days.
I can’t even begin to express how great the need is here. You’ve seen the pictures and understand the devastation. What you may not have guessed though is that insurance is something that only the rich indulge in here. So now the poorest of the poor are forced to rebuild what little they had from the few dollars they earn per day. Food, clothing and personal care items are of greatest need. I’ve also heard much talk about people needing to reinvest in fridges and stoves. One thing is clear, it is going to take a long while for the city to rebuild.
That being said, the spirit of the Filipino people is remarkable. What little they have, they share with a friend. Goods are being distributed and neighbors are helping neighbors. It is a very inspiring thing to be a part of. One aspect of Filipino culture is a belief that what happens to us is God’s Will. It’s spiritual fate, so to speak. They don’t try to change it, or dwell on why me, they just accept that it happened and move on. I think that’s what makes them such a pleasant people to live among. And that’s why I have no doubt that they will move beyond this. Because instead of living in the past and unwishing the damage, they are already collaborating and helping each other rebuild. It’s hard to ignore the innate goodness of humanity when you see so many loving actions happening before your eyes. Strange to say, but it’s a real gift to witness the rebuilding after a tragedy – that’s when the human spirit is at its best!
If you are longing to do something, please let me know. If you want to mail a check to me, I’d be happy to go out and purchase items and get them to the appropriate drop-off points. The Red Cross is also accepting monetary donations at: www.redcross.org.ph. Thank you for whatever contributions you can spare for my Filipino friends! Here’s a beautiful film I wanted to share that really moved me. Make sure and take note of all the collaboration and assistance happening in the photos. Our thanks for all those who checked up on Nick and I. We are alive and well!