The Filipinos are a very resilient people. I know from personal experience how they can go with a flick of a switch from the depths of despair to the extremes of happiness. Their smile makes them the envy of the world. Their industriousness makes them popular and in demand employees and friends all over the world. Many million of them work overseas in a variety of conditions and environments, to send much needed funds back to families — a concept with which this country is familiar.
As a community overseas, they are helpful, friendly, and pleasant. As a nation, they are peaceloving and cordial. Their political movements gave us the concept of people power in the face of extreme dictators.
Their history is a dotted one, but one thing is for sure. As a country they did not deserve the catastrophe that happened last weekend. One would have hoped that if the strongest storm ever to hit land had to occur, that it should occur against the buttress of a country which had an infrastructure to withstand it. That it hit land where the resistance to it was the least meant widespread devastation and death. The scenes of bodies piled in the streets, of children clambering onto corrugated tin roofing, of houses and homes being pulverised into matchsticks.
The Philippines experiences about 20 typhoons every year. I happened to be in Manila a few years back as a typhoon approached. Even there in the city of concrete and steel, the panic ensued and people heading to the regions for a Halloween weekend turned back, opting for shelter in the built up city rather than the vast open spaces of the beautiful countryside.
You can have nothing but pity for those people facing a wind more than three times stronger than anything we have ever experienced in this country.
For the past four days, I have been using whatever means I can to help a friend get in contact with her family in the area of Carigara, about 100 miles from Tacloban in the Leyte province. She works in Manila many miles from her parental home, but as every day passes and no news come through, her worry increases. Today the only news from the town was that anti-government groups had started shooting in the street in order to take control of the aid supplies coming in.
Still, she waits and she hopes that news will come through that her family are safe. There is no doubt that they have lost their homes and their belongings. Her only hope now is that their lives have been spared.
Even though we think we are in crisis in this country, spare a thought for all of those who have lost everything, whose fates are in the hands of the Gods and in the hands of the situation in which they have found themselves.
If you have a minute, spare yourself the cost of a coffee or a pint tomorrow and make a donation to the relief campaign.
Texting GOAL to 50300 to donate €2:
Donations cost €2. You will receive one text message costing €2. At least 95 per cent of your donation will go to GOAL. You will be added to our promotional database. To opt-out, text STOP to 50300. Helpline: 01-4433890.
Texting GOAL4 to 50300 to donate €4:
Donations cost €4. You will receive two text messages, each costing €2. At least 95 per cent of your donation will go to GOAL. You will be added to our promotional database. To opt-out, text STOP to 50300. Helpline: 014433890.