It has been a week after the typhoon hit the center of the Philippines. Thousands have died, thousands more are injured, and many are still missing. Over the week, reports of chaos, hunger and slow response & relief operations of the government dominated the news everywhere. But after a week, things have started change.
Relief goods are starting to reach the affected areas. Clean up operations are now in motion. C130s and Philippine Marine ships that deliver the goods return to Manila or Cebu with survivors who have chosen to leave the devastation behind. Bodies are now in cadaver bags and longer covered with blankets or what used be to house roofs, and are being buried in mass graves. The presence of the military is now evident. One female soldier even went as far as breastfeeding some of the infants in an evacuation center. Volunteers from different countries have set up soup kitchens & makeshift hospitals. Amidst the tears, a lot of the survivors have regained their golden smiles Filipinos are known for. Precious laughters are now present as one news reporter interviewed some women who joked about their slippers that do not match & how they scrub their teeth with their shirts.
It’s still a long way to go before central Philippines fully recover. It’s still a long road to rehabilitation. But the journey to this recovery has already started. Everyone is looking forward to a brighter tomorrow. There is hope. And as if to make this hope more visible, a rainbow was seen a week after the typhoon; a rainbow painted across the Tacloban sky.
There’s so much to learn from this tragedy. I’ve come to appreciate more the resilience of the Filipinos, and the strength of the Filipino spirit. Acts of heroism are all over, and how the whole country responded to the cry of help is overwhelming. There are students skipping meals and donating their lunch money. Companies cancelling their Christmas parties and giving their budget instead. Little kids bring their piggy banks filled with money they saved for Christmas. The list goes on and one.
More overwhelming is the support from different countries around the world. Moved by compassion, they did not only send financial help, but they also sent volunteers and equipment. These people, Filipinos and foreigners alike have brought back my faith in humanity.
The development in Visayas only proves that God is not blind to the suffering of people. He sees. He listens. And he responds. He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps. 46:1) He is why we have hope.