I find myself returning to 2004, when Sarah McLachlan released World on Fire. The video opened people’s eyes to what it cost to make a music video and what it meant, equivalently to other people, less fortunate people, all over the world.
Now, I read articles and see photos of Typhoon Yolanda’s destruction over the Visayas, the provinces very near to my home where my Mom lives, and see all the anarchy and looting that is happening there. There is hunger and thirst and people who have lost everything, walking in the streets amongst dead bodies that haven’t been picked up yet.
Prisoners escaped the Tacloban prison and there is a sense of lawlessness going on. Even the survivors have come to raid trucks bringing aid and relief goods. They raid structures and homes that have withstood the storm and take whatever they can — not just food and water, mind you, but people’s A/C and radio and jewellery.
And, of course, I am so angry because of all the billions of money that had gone to private citizens — billions of pesos in public funds siphoned off and sent to fake NGOs in a case that is yet to be filed by the Ombudsman and the justice department because, well, I don’t really know why they are taking their time with trying Janet Napoles and this whole pork barrel bullshit. Ten billion pesos could really help the people in Tacloban and Samar and the rest of the Visayas region of the country. But all that money and those people were not prepared for a typhoon.
Truth be told, nobody could have been prepared for a typhoon of that magnitude, some thing they call “the most powerful typhoon/cyclone in the history of the Earth.” But the money that was being stolen since far back as the late 90s could have gone into flood and typhoon preventive measures, better housing for people (so less people would have lost their homes), better and faster rescue operation procedures and equipment.
No, instead the Filipinos rely on the generosity and kindness of private individuals who are mobilising their own rescue and relief operations from their home. This is something we’ve done since as far back as Typhoon Milenyo that hit us back in 2007 (or was it 2008)?
This is the global network coming to each other’s aid when we need it the most. It sometimes amazes me, the capacity for human beings to love each other, even total strangers who have nothing to gain from this act of generosity and kindness.
It strengthens my resolve that not all humans are engaged in the kind of stupidity and barbarity where people can be killed just for being gay and for being of a different race or culture or religion.
We’ve got all kinds, don’t we? Not just the extremists but the kind-hearted ones as well. I’m tugged and pulled along in so many ways, and in so many directions. At some point, I am horrendously disappointed at my government and the looters and the people who have resorted to anarchy just to survive. But at the same time, I am humbled by the amazing acts of kindness and generosity of strangers in another land who aren’t at all invested in these acts of goodness. They just do it, because they are human.
We are all just human.