I’m sorry I haven’t been able to post regularly. Since Sunday, Cathy and I have been volunteering at the Typhoon Ondoy relief program of the church in the Philippines for which I work, Victory Fort Bonifacio. It’s been hectic but not chaotic; it’s fast-paced but it’s organized.
I cannot begin to emphasize how important it is for us to come together as a nation to do this. Civil society is getting more vocal – social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Plurk will attest to this – about how government seems to be reacting too slowly to the needs of its citizens, so it is mobilizing its own networks and getting down and dirty to help those affected by the typhoon. I understand their frustration and anger with the system, and while I join them in venting their fury with the sheer ineptitude of it all (12 rubber boats? Is that the best you can do? Buti na lang may surfboard si Echo!), I must stress that at the end of the day, it’s what one person does with one’s time and one’s two hands that will make all the difference.
There are dozens of relief efforts all over the metropolis. Visit them and help out by packing or distributing relief packs. You can reach into your closet and part with some clothes. You can head over to the corner grocery store or drugstore and buy some food or medicines. (I personally recommend the foil-wrapped sardines and corned beef for food; powdered milk for infants; and purifying tablets or Hydrite oral rehydration salts for medicines. Please donate garbage bags. The Ondoy victims are throwing their plastic bottles, utensils, and whatnot into the streets. Why do you think the floods are rising so fast? One reason: garbage clogging the waterways! :( ) And if you have the capacity to bring bottled water, this is most important of all.
Can’t leave your home? You can call in and make a donation with your credit card. You can go online and make a bank transfer. Donate online. There is so much you can do. This is one time to live whatever adage you believe in. Man for Others, if you’re Atenean. Salt and Light, if you’re Christian. What goes around comes around. Do unto others what you would have others do unto you. Sow what you reap. There’s a whole range. You know what I mean.
Today, Cathy and I are taking Nathan to the relief center to volunteer. He may be six years old, but he’s of sound age and mind, and something like this will make an impact on his young life. While I man the phones and serve as the communications guy, Cathy and Nathan will pack relief goods and assist the dozens of other volunteers. My only fear is that there will be nothing to pack.
Please, please, please, help us help those affected by Typhoon Ondoy. Use us as your hands and feet; we’ll visit you at your homes and pick up your goods, clothes, toiletries, whatever you can spare. Give us a call, 8171212, 9am to 5pm before Friday. We’ll be here, and hope you’ll be here with us. (More photos of our relief efforts here.)