Below is a personal news report I asked one of my team members (Ingrid) to write about her experience in Manila, Philippines:
“Raining? On the weekend?! C’mon!” That’s what I thought when Typhoon Ondoy (International name: Ketsana) reached Manila. The sky was pitch dark and poured rain as if there was no tomorrow. I was really upset that day because weekends are used for quality family time usually spent outside the home. I wasn’t aware of what was happening beyond the four walls until the heavy rain turned into a drizzle. We looked outside and saw the flood water was about ankle-deep and thought to myself that it didn’t rain that much until my in-laws called for help. The home office, located at the basement was flooded! The water was knee deep and everybody was moving as fast as they could to save things from pieces of furniture to important documents. A line of bucket was formed from the nearest drain to the basement to drain the water faster. When a little sunshine peeped through the heavy clouds, we were realized that the storm was over – or so we thought.
Heavy rains came again but this time it was scary. The rain was pouring hard as if there was a flock of birds flapping their wings. The sound was deafening. The water rose faster, flooding our garage in a couple of minutes. We decided to evacuate the house when the water reached our foyer and seek refuge from my parent’s house located at a much higher place. I emailed everybody I know if they were affected by flooding and got instant messages that some of them are trapped on their rooftops and others trapped in their cars. Never had Manila been hit by such a devastation, people were unprepared for this degree of calamity.
Facebook.com and Twitter.com became the hotline for help and rescue in Manila. People sending out shout outs asking for help or telling people they are okay. These sites also became the channels for asking donations after the storm subsided. According to news reports, 80% of Manila was under (and some areas after two weeks from the storm are still flooded) flood water after the typhoon left. The President declared Manila and neighboring provinces in a state of calamity and rescue efforts were done as soon as the flood waters were still. Private corporations pitched in to help by giving out immediate relief effort such as food and clothing. The Army was deployed for rescue especially to hard hit areas such as Marikina, Cainta and Pasig. People from these areas sought shelter at public schools. Seeing them first hand was really heart breaking and grateful that we weren’t hit that hard. People lost loved ones and properties during this calamity. Babies were crying for food, old people were given immediate medicine due to some of them were soaked in water for hours. Most of them didn’t have time to save any of their property, all they have for now is the clothes on their back.
Because of the Internet, young Filipinos were the frontrunners in the relief efforts. Every Filipino I know has a cell phone and has at least the basic knowledge how the internet works. They gave time to volunteer and pooled money to buy food and other necessities for the affected families. Techie savvy people set up a Google document of a list where to donate money and drop off points for in kind donations. People where blogging about what damage they saw in their area and asking more people to help out. Filipinos leaving overseas also made donations in cash and in kind. This is what makes me proud to be Pinoy everybody helps out everybody in times of crisis. It doesn’t matter in what economic class you are, whenever you need help on something they won’t hesitate and won’t ask anything in return. They would even put a smile on their faces even if they are suffering.
This calamity brought a nation together, helping out one another without any expectation of any pay. Now that rehabilitation of the areas have started, I hope and pray that the spirit of reaching out and helping will continue until most of the affected families have settled.
If you would like to donate money to help in the area, Samaritan’s Purse is helping there: