Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I was telling Giboy the other night that the reason I avoid watching the evening news is to spare myself from the pangs of helplessness. That I know, it wouldn't help to shed tears, or share in the collective grief when something can be done to ease the suffering of those who have lost their homes and loved ones. 

As news feeds continue to air on TV screens, Typhoon Yolanda pummeled Eastern Visayas, and left a trail of destruction never before seen in recent memory. Seen in video clips are shell-shocked survivors limping around a flattened city; scavenging food or looting department stores in downtown Tacloban for something to eat. Sometimes, they would step foot on human remains still unclaimed inside ruined houses. Those who were unfortunate to survive the tempest do these acts to go on living; to see through the light of day in  cracked glasses, permanently scarred by nature's fury.   

I keep their sufferings in mind and let them haunt my thoughts. 

Because the moment instinct kicks in, nothing would stop me from rushing towards the front lines; to enlist and volunteer. To be in places where canned goods, rice and instant noodles are repacked and sent where aid is needed.

Time is of the essence and help must reach the eastern provinces a day after the storm's landfall. For this reason I sent an SMS to my boss. 

To allow me to go undertime last Friday. 

"My sister and my brother-in-law had a nasty fight," I said as an excuse. "I was asked by my mom to intervene." The ruse worked. In less than an hour after sending the text message, I was off to Pasay where the DSWD called for volunteers.

My presence, however, was cut short because I was urgently needed at work. I returned the day after to make up for the lost time. There, from twilight to daybreak, I was hauling the essentials - arranging them on tables so that when the tons of rice arrive from the Social Welfare Department's warehouses, it would be easy for the next batch of volunteers to sort the supplies and slide everything inside the relief bags.

What has been done in the past deserves a repeat performance. I was there when one of the largest TV networks called for volunteers during Ondoy. I've sent myself to ground zero to personally deliver supplies to calamity stricken areas. I've been a taskmaster, a logistics officer, a kargador when few men would volunteer to carry sacks of relief goods - and - as I've realized lately, you don't show up and lend help for personal indulgence.

You offer time because it is the right thing to do.

Because of this overwhelming desire to act.

It's been four days since the strongest typhoon to make landfall barreled across nation and help has not yet arrived. If you find me in one of the repacking centers in the city, I was there on my own accord.

"Ako po si JM at gusto ko po magvolunteer."

All it takes is a straight introduction, and a clear intention. The Philippine Red Cross and the Social Welfare Department always needs extra hands.

Especially in the godless hours of the night.

Update: The Bayanihan spirit has now touched everyone. Even the night shifts have been taken over by eager volunteers. God bless this nation.

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