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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fat girl versus mean girls
Pickles from My Mind

I Hate You ‘Coz You’re Fat

Let me start this post by enumerating why people hate fat people:

1. They’re so big that when you sit next to them in the bus, half your ass-cheeks would be hanging off the seat.

2. They’re so big that by the time they pass by in front of your TV and sit down, you’d most likely miss a 1-hour episode of Next Top Model.

3. They’re so big that… you just love to hate them.

4. And you love to hate them because… other people love hating them too.

“It’s a circle. A mean cycle.” – Paramore

What that quote means? Oh, nothing. I just like throwing lines from my favorite band’s songs randomly. LOL

Anyway, if you had ever experienced being a fat, 10-year-old girl who got spat on the face by a boy in her class, before she grew up to be a smart, talented, funny, beautiful and awesome human being (Ehem! Haha), then you’d probably asked yourself this question at least once in your life:

Fat People what's wrong with being fat

Well, I can tell you one reason why it’s wrong to be fat:

You could die very, very early. You could have a heart attack, diabetes, stroke or Cancer.

But I’m talking about real, seriously fat people here. In other words, Obese people.

Obesity (noun)

a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems.

real, officially and clinically FAT PERSON is someone whose Body Mass Index/BMI (Height + Weight) is waaaay beyond what’s healthy.

So that answers it, right? It’s wrong to be fat because it’s unhealthy!

But that doesn’t explain why fat people get teased, bullied or ridiculed so much as if they don’t have feelings. Like they aren’t real human beings.

Dumb-ass guy says: “Pigs don’t have feelings.”

I say: “Yeah, and so does your balls, right? –  So can I kick it?”

FATTIE VERSUS SKINNY

 Over the years, our concept of fat and skinny have changed, evolved and to be honest – it has become vague. People today, have a problem in understanding/identifying what’s really fat and what’s not.

Look at this comparative photo of a Barbie Doll from the 90’s and today’s Barbie Doll:

Barbie Doll - Now & Then

50 years ago, this is how we defined “fat” people:

fat people

50 years ago, this is how we defined “sexy” people:

marilyn moroe size 14

If you don’t recognize her, that’s Marilyn Monroe. An actress, comedienne and the most desired sex symbol during the 50’s to 60’s. Oh, and she was a size 14 (Which means she probably had a 32 -inch waistline).


Today, however, size 14 belongs to the fattie department.
Proof?

Plus size model size 14

Size 14 models who look like this, are called “PLUS-SIZED MODELS” today. And this is how we, (i-Pad sporting, Facebook-drooling people) see “sexy” today:

skinny bitch

If you don’t see women like this in magazine covers everyday, then I’m a dinosaur!

FAT GIRL VERSUS THE MEAN GIRLS

 fat girl versus mean girlsThe media is a big “influencer” of  the society. It tells us what to wear, where to go, who to idolize… And often, the media sets unrealistic standards of beauty.

Millions of girls freak out when they see even a little bit of cellulite or belly fat. And they resort to extreme measures just to keep up with the standards – diet pills, excessive exercising, self-starvation.

Could we blame the media for this? Yes, actually, we can.

Heck, the media’s been brainwashing us with billions of dollars worth of advertising lies geared to make us feel bad about ourselves for centuries!:

“Oh, your skin’s dry, buy this”.

“Your hair’s dull, buy this”.

“You must be lonely, buy this”.

“What? you hate your life? Buy this”.

The media puts so much emphasis on being thin and/or pretty, it’s no wonder why even teenage girls’ celebrity role models develop eating disorders (Demi Lovato, Ashlee Simpson, Mary-Kate Olsen, Nicole Richie – to mention a few). The media is truly a powerful thing. So powerful, it can become destructive.

How many chick flicks have you watched that doesn’t involve girls calling eachother “fat” or “ugly” or “fugly (fat+ugly)”? Don’t get me wrong, I love chick flicks because they’re funny. Hell, I even quote lines from “Mean Girls” to my friends. But sometimes I realize how twisted it seems, how these movies condition our minds to consider these vicious words as funny instead of hurtful.

meangirls - Regina George is Flawless. One time she punched me in the face

"Regina George is Flawless. One time she punched me in the face... It was AWESOME!" - Hahaha.

Because in real life, being called “fat” or “ugly” in a room full of girls IS hurtful. But often times,we don’t care if we call people names. Because we’d rather be Regina George than that girl who buys super jumbo-sized tampons. We’d rather sit with the cold, shiny, hard “Plastics” during lunch rather than be with the Asian Nerds or the Art Freaks. (Please watch “Mean Girls” if you don’t get it ;-p )

During a child’s early years of development (1 to 7 years old), they learn many things.

Including the concept of good and bad, wrong and right and yes, beautiful and ugly. But think about this for a while – what if we never knew all these?

What if we never knew what fat or skinny was? 

We’d probably see more regular-looking girls on the covers of Vogue magazine.

What if we never called eachother names or say mean things to eachother?

We’d probably have lower teen suicide rates.

 

 

J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter & one of my favorite authors of all time once said this in an interview:

“Is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat‘ worse than ‘vindictive‘, ‘jealous‘, ‘shallow‘, ‘vain‘, ‘boring‘ or ‘cruel‘? Not to me.” 

She even added: “Girls don’t just simply hate their bodies, we teach them to.”

Truth is, we only take in what society teaches us. We absorb what is taught us. And what we see everyday, what’s constantly being repeated to us, sooner or later, becomes a part of us.

When I found JK Rowling’s words on the internet, I suddenly realized that this particular line from “Mean Girls” actually makes sense:

“I don’t hate you ’cause you’re fat. You’re fat because I hate you.” 

WE make people fat. WE make people ugly. WE make ourselves hate eachother. It’s US. It’s all within US. We are the ones who choose what to call, how to see and how to treat people!

WHAT IS WRONG WITH BEING FAT? 

And I mean, REALLY!

I tell you what’s wrong with being fat  – NOTHING.

And I say this because I have been there. I was the fat girl. Hell, I might even still be the fat girl!

But it didn’t affect the way I was or am today. It didn’t affect my intelligence, or my ballsy-ness or my talents. It made me the woman that I am today. The sleep-all-day-and-write-a-blog-post-all-night kinda girl (It’s 7:00AM, BTW) 😉

To girls all over the world:Barbie doll and woman

Having cellulite or  belly fat doesn’t make you less of a person. Now, more than ever, I believe that. I know when you look in that mirror, there will be times all you could see are the areas that could use a little liposuction or botox.

I tell you, don’t dwell on these little imperfections. I have been there. And there’s nothing worst that you can do to yourself than to wish yourself away… To wish you were someone else. Because that’s when insecurity all begins.

Try to listen to yourself rather than believe in everything those glossy magazines tell you. Don’t make self-depreciation a habit between you and your girlfriends (“I hate my calves!”, “My pores are huge!”, “I’ve got man-shoulders!”)

Lastly, acknowledge your physical imperfections. Embrace them. It takes a whole less effort to accept yourself rather than trying to change yourself.

And the next time someone points out that your thighs are as huge as an Anaconda, instead of crying about it in the bathroom- nod a little bit, turn around and then laugh it all away 🙂

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