Typhoon Haiyan Relief Operations
Pickles from My Mind, Wanna Be: A MassCom Student

Yolanda Was A Bitch

Once there was a bitch whose name was Yolanda. In a matter of hours, she swept off towns from the face of the earth, left children motherless, mothers childless and crumbled the strength of fathers like the corner stones of homes reduced to rubble.

Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) was a Super Typhoon that made landfall on the Central Visayas region of the Philippines on November 8, 2013 (Friday). The bitch brought havoc and mayhem. Being the strongest of her kind in World History, she took lives. She tore homes apart. She broke the hearts of millions all over the world. I AM ONE OF THE BROKEN-HEARTED.

I am one of the many who wept for my fellowmen. I am one of those who spent hours and hours online, trying to find out everything about the bitch and her victims. I was constantly reading articles, watching videos, sharing, posting, re-blogging…

I was obsessed with Yolanda. I guess that’s how humans sometimes react to heartbreak. You find out all you can about the culprit, wishing there was something you dig up that was good enough as a tool for revenge.

Part 1 – The part where Yolanda broke my heart.

We heard it days beforehand in the news – that there was a “Super Typhoon” coming, estimated to be the most destructive ever in history. And as if we were in a sad, masochistic lottery game, it was the Philippines that won the raffle. The typhoon was said to make landfall in my country.

But I didn’t pay much attention to the news. I admit, I brushed it aside like it was old gossip. I expected this “Super Typhoon” to pass by the country the way other typhoons in the past did. I expected some grumpy weather, some destroyed homes, maybe a few casualties and a few days of post-typhoon news stories involving people that were miles and miles away from where I lived. And then that’s it – back to ordinary, Davaoenyo life. Back to arrogantly living in a corner of the Philippines where typhoons rarely make an impact.

On the day when the typhoon was supposedly to make landfall in the Visayas region, our geographic location didn’t fail me – there was barely any weather disturbance.  I went about my day as usual.

It was when Facebook posts and news updates started cropping up that it started. One by one, piece by piece, my heart broke when images like these jumped out at me:

Yolanda Victims 1

Bodies everywhere (source: Rappler.com).

Yolanda Dead Bodies

Two men try to lift a dead body (Source: Rappler.com)

super typhoon haiyan

A man searches for his belongings among debris (Source: Rappler.com)

Yolanda victims dead body

Bodies lined up in the streets (Source: Rappler.com)

Haiyan

A woman cries over a dead loved one inside a chapel (Source: Getty Images)

Hour by hour, the death toll rose up – one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred… a thousand, two thousand…

It was then that Yolanda’s destruction struck me like a dead fish slapped across my face. I was stung. I was stunned. But it didn’t end there –  as if the death and destruction that she brought wasn’t enough, more stories came. Stories of survivors acting like animals, ransacking houses and establishments, stealing food to feed their hungry stomachs.

Because believe it or not, even three to five days after the tragedy, there was no concrete trace of our government attempting to search and rescue the missing or attending to the dead and worst – no mass government operations providing food, clothes and shelter for the survivors. As if these survivors haven’t experienced enough horror.

” A sad soul can kill quicker, far quicker than a germ.” – John Steibeck

Imagine having to endure horrific hours of a storm, watching the world around you crumble and watching your whole family taken by the storm surge, knowing in the corners of your brain that you will never see them again when it gets quiet.

Typhoon Haiyan Relief Operations

“We Need Food” – Haiyan Victims plea.

Typhoon Haiyan Looting

Survivors of ST Yolanda ransack a store for survival (Source: Rappler.com)

ST haiyan yolanda relief

Kids waiting by the side of the road, begging for food after the Super Typhoon.

Super typhoon haiyan yolanda death toll food

SOS on a ship washed ashore by the Super Typhoon.

Super Typhoon Haiyan

A man brandishing a gun outside his store in an attempt to protect his goods from looters.

Soon, the grief I felt was contaminated with anger. Where was the government? Where were the politicians who promised to “take care” of their people? Probably still fast asleep in their warm, comfy beds while in some parts of their country, people are becoming rash, willing to hurt others just for a bottle of water and a piece of soda crackers.

If the government didn’t act fast enough, these survivors will be reduced to nothing short of savage dogs. They’ve lost their families. They’ve lost their homes. They’ve lost enough. They can’t lose their humanity, too.

Amidst all these, amidst all the stories of loss, destruction, chaos, people pointing fingers, international media jumping in, local media men making a fool of themselves and “1 Like 1 Prayer” Facebook posts in my newsfeed, I was sure of one thing and one thing only: Yolanda was a bitch. And this bitch had to go down.

Part 2 – The part where the bitch goes down

In an attempt to fight back, I contacted my friends whom I met in humanitarian organizations that I’ve joined before, offering help. Some of them replied. Those events that I couldn’t join, I shared in my wall, hoping the “promotion” helped. Even our class was given a chance by our Class Instructor (Derf Maiz) to help re-pack relief goods, a chance that we gladly took.

Super Typhoon Haiyan Relief Operations

Davao City Send Relief Goods to Typhoon Victims

Haiyan Yolanda Relief Davao

In the back of my mind, I knew it was the only way Yolanda was to be defeated. To be strong was the only way to show her she didn’t win. The thing about bitches like Yolanda is they take all you have and crush it to smithereens, then leave you for dead. But when you show them that their spirit-crushing wasn’t enough to defeat you – that’s when you come out stronger.

The thing about Filipinos (and we’ve known this for gazillions of years) is that we are a resilient race. How many times have we experienced tragedies and came out of them with bright smiles on our faces? I’ll tell you how many times: More than the fingers typing on my laptop keyboard. Multiply that by ten. And multiply a thousand more. Amidst all the tragedy, even international media men couldn’t help but admire how strong the Filipino people are:

When everything else is taken away, broken and battered, soaked raw, stripped bare, you see things. You see people as they really are. This week in Tacloban, Samar and Cebu, amidst the hunger and thirst, the chaos and confusion, we’ve seen the best in the Filipino people. Their strength, their courage, I can’t get it out of my mind. Imagine the strength it takes for a mother to search alone for her missing kids, the strength to sleep; on the street near the body of your child.

We’ve seen people with every reason to despair, every right to be angry, instead find ways to laugh, and to love, to stand up, to move forward.

A storm breaks wood and bone, brings hurt and heartbreak. In the end, the wind, the water, the horror it brings is not the end of the story.

With aid and assistance, compassion and care, this place, these people…they will make it through. They already survived the worst. They’re bowed, perhaps tired and traumatized, but they are not broken.

Mabuhay Philippines! Maraming salamat for all you’ve shown us. Maraming salamat for showing us all how to live.”

– Anderson Cooper

And indeed, this is how we bring Yolanda down. By helping eachother. By staying strong.

super typhoon haiyan yolanda relief us aid

Relief Goods from US Aid

Haiyan Empire State Building Relief

New York shows support for Haiyan’s victims by lighting up the Empire State Building in the Philippine Flag’s colors.

Haiyan Relief Operations Japan

6-year-old Japanese kid donates his childhood savings to Typhoon Haiyan’s victims. (Source: GMA News)

typhoon haiyan lemonade stand

Two kids from California put up a lemonade stand for Typhoon Yolanda’s victims. (Source: GMA News).

I wasn’t directly affected by the Super Typhoon. I don’t really know how it feels to be uprooted from my home by a merciless natural calamity or how horrible it must feel to check the faces of each dead body you see in the street in search for a missing loved one. I don’t really know. And hopefully, I never will. But watching from the outside in, I know the pain cannot be described or put into words.

But when you see people from all over your country and all over the world make an effort to lift up those who were beaten down, you can’t help but feel hopeful. Happy, even.

Yolanda may be a bitch. But her bitchiness brought the whole world together. In the face of adversity, humanity may show its ugliness and its flaws but on one side, it never fails to amaze us.

Yolanda may be a bitch but the bitch showed us how to be a man for others.

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If I Die Young (Re-Vamped)

The Band Perry - Tennyson - Boat - If I Die Young

A couple years ago, I wrote something like this in my Facebook notes (Also entitled “If I Die Young”) to let the people I love know what I wanted them to do if I did die young.

Last night, I received a terrible news that my Christian Values Education teacher in High School had died because of illness. As in every death, comes the shock to every person that was left behind.

Questions like “Did he leave words unsaid?” “Was he prepared for it?” “Did it hurt?” “I wonder what it’s like?” kept replaying in my head.

That’s when I thought about the note in Facebook I wrote a few years ago and decided to post it up here in my blog and add some things up.

You see, I may appear to be an optimistic, cheerful, happy-go-lucky person but I DO think about death. In the jeepney, in the shower, in the few minutes between consciousness and falling asleep… I think about how, when and where I’ll die. Probably even more than necessary.

Anyway, so here it goes:

“IF I DIE YOUNG … “

We did this before for our High School Project called “Book of My Life” which had a “My Death Plan” Chapter in it. Being a High School student, I filled that chapter with quirky to the point of being almost ridiculous death plans, but those plans were no less than cute or funny. 😉

My Death Plan - Book of My Life

“Book of My Life” Project in High School – Chapter 8 is Where it All Began :p

I kept some of the original plans in here and added a few things to spice up my death. LOL.

1. The Little White Dress

White Dress for Funeral

Aren’t these dresses cute or what? 🙂

Helena by My Chemical Romance Dress - If I Die Young

I originally wanted a dress like this! (Image from “Helena” by MCR music video)

Originally, I wanted a black dress to wear for my funeral. Similar to the one in My Chemical Romance’s music video for “Helena.” But perhaps because I didn’t want to scare kids when they take a peek at me in my coffin or maybe it’s because I’m way past my “Emo” phase in High School, I decided a Little White Dress would also suffice.

Although, I think a black dress would make my skin color pop out, don’t you think? LOL. Awooooooo.

2. The Coffin

In High School, I wanted my coffin to be black. But that was during a time when I sported black eyeliners, black shirts, black nail polish and black… well, everything. LOL.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked that phase in High School. But I’m a half- right here, right now and half- move forward kinda girl. And right now, I think a life with more colors is more fun. So for my coffin… is it possible to have it painted with a RAINBOW? Haha.

3. The Wake

Typically, Filipinos stay up for days to grieve while their loved one’s dead body is displayed for everyone to see. LOL. Relatives cry, talk about the cause of death, eat cookies, drink coffee and play card games.

Miranda Kerr Victoria's Secret Angel Fashion Show

Hell, yeah! When I die, I will transform into an Angel… A Victoria’s Secret Angel. Lol.

In my “wake”  though, I want something a little different.

  • I want to be surrounded by pictures of me. If possible, happy pictures. Photos that will remind people of how I was like when I was alive and not how I became dead meat. Also because I want to show off my photography and modeling talent. HAHAHHAHA! Kidding.
  • Let my friends see my notebooks, box of letters, trinkets, gifts, etc to let them know that I treasured every single Birthday gift they gave me.
  • I want singing, talking and laughing! We’re not in a friggin’ Library for crying out loud. 😀
  • I’m a Masscom student, so I probably have some kind of Audio Visual Presentation made for my funeral. My family will have to discover for themselves where I left it, though, but I have a feeling it’s in my laptop. Haha. When they do find where it is, I want it to be played and re-played during my wake.

4. The Funeral

It’s sad to think that most of the time, families only ever really re-unite when there’s death in the family. Long-lost friends appear, kindergarten classmates that you never spoke with for years show up… That’s the beautiful and tragic thing about death.

During my funeral, there will be speeches from the people closest to me, I’m sure. But I also want to speak to them during that time… through music.

I love music. Music is universal. It transcends through time, space, race and language. And for every emotion felt, for every life lived, every story to be told, there is a song that will fit perfectly. And so… here are some of my most favorite songs that I want to be played during my wake.

1. Time of Your Life by Green Day

2. Believe in Dreams by Flyleaf

3. Half Life by Duncan Shiek

4. Northern Downpour by Panic! At the Disco

5. Vanilla Twilight by Owl City

AND MORE!

For more songs, text SONGS FOR THE DEAD

And send to 2366 for Smart Subscribers and 2331 for Globe, TM or Suncel

MY HEAVEN

 Have you seen the movie or read the book “The Lovely Bones”? I would love to think that my heaven looks like that. Although, Suzie never met anyone she knew in her earthly life in her “almost heaven”, I’d like to think WE will see eachother again! 🙂

ImageImageImageImage

Hopefully, I don’t die young. Hopefully, I live a full life. Have a successful career, meet the man of my life – my soulmate (if ever there’s such a thing). Have kids, travel the world. Grow old in a beach house near the white-sand shore…

But we never know, right? 🙂

No one can predict the future – not even the Mayan Calendar. LOL. But if that time comes earlier than expected, I want YOU to know that I had the time of my life.

This life of mine has been wonderful, crazy, beautiful and amazing. And it was a privilege, an honor and my pleasure to have my path cross with yours.

CIAO! See you on the other side! 😀

“IF I DIE YOUNG” by The Band Perry Lyrics

(I love this song, the lyrics are sad but the melody and the way it was sung sound bright and it has such a beautiful meaning.)

 

If i die young bury me in satin,

lay me down on a bed of roses.

Sink me in the river at dawn,

Send me away with the words of a love song.

Ooh ooh ooh ooh

 

Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother.

She’ll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors.

oh and life ain’t always what you think it ought to be,no

 Ain’t even gray but she buries her baby.

the sharp knife of a short life.

Well I’ve had just enough time…

 

If i die young bury me in satin,

lay me down on a bed of roses.

Sink me in the river at dawn,

Send me away with the words of a love song.

The sharp knife of a short life.

Well, i have just enough time..

 

And I’ll be wearing white,

when i come into your kingdom,

I’m as green as the ring on my little cold finger.

I’ve never known the lovin’ of man,

but it sure felt nice when he was holdin’ my hand.

There’s a boy here in town,

who says he’ll love me forever.

Who would have thought forever could be severed

by the sharp knife of a short life,

Well I’ve had just enough time…

 

So put on your best boys, and I’ll wear my pearls.

What I never did is done.

 

A penny for my thoughts oh no I’ll sell ’em for a dollar,

they’re worth so much more after I’m a goner,

and maybe then you’ll hear the words that I’ve been singin’.

Its funny when your dead how people start listenin’

 

If i die young bury me in satin,

lay me down on a bed of roses.

Sink me in the river at dawn,

send me away with the words of a love song.

 

Ooh ooh the ballad of a dove,

go with peace and love.

Gather up your tears and keep them in your pocket,

Save em for a time when your really gonna need em.

oh the sharp knife of a short life,

Well I’ve had just enough time.

So put on your best boys, and I’ll wear my pearls.

If I Die Young by The Band Perry - Photo on Boat

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