Kababayan is the Tagalog word for a fellow countrymen; a fellow Filipino.
Maybe because we still have relatives and friends in the Philippines; or maybe because we want to help in a way we can, my Filipino friends and I at work would contribute whatever amount we can and send them to the Philippines whenever we would hear news about calamities that badly affected our Kababayans. We usually choose to send our help through ABS-CBN’s (television network in the Philippines) Sagip-Kapamilya Foundation.
On November 8, 2014, my Facebook page was flooded with pictures, news and stories about the super typhoon Haiyan (locally known as typhoon Yolanda). I then turned on the TV and tuned it to TV Patrol, ABS-CBN’s evening news, seeing the extensive damage brought by the strong wind and heavy flood shocked me. As the different scenarios of how Haiyan slammed the province of Leyte unfold in the television my tears began to fall. I do not have a relative who is directly affected by the typhoon but these people that I am watching are my kababayans, I can’t imagine myself being in their situation.
I didn’t do anything but keep checking the news on TV and internet for updates. The destruction brought by Haiyan is catastrophic. As of that time that I am watching the news updates, the death poll has reached more than 100. In my life time, I believe this is the strongest typhoon that ever hit the Philippines. Local and international news report were telling that typhoon houses and buildings were ripped apart; electric powers were knocked off; there were flash floods and landslides; communication were cut off; land and air travel were not possible and the roads were turned into a river.
In the midst of this disaster, it is still uplifting to know how a number of international leaders sent their messages of sympathy and offered assistance and financial help to The Philippines. And Canada was one of those countries that offered assistance. Canadian government even established a Philippine crisis fund wherein the government will set aside an additional dollar for the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund for every dollar donation made by individual Canadians to a registered Canadian institution responding to the crisis in the Philippines.
On Monday when I came to work, the first e-mail I sent was for my fellow Filipinos at work to initiate a donation campaign to be sent to the Philippines, the appeal for help did not just go through to my Filipino colleagues, donations from our other colleagues also came. Four days after sending that e-mail, we are able to raise more than a thousand dollars which we donated to Humanitarian Coalition.
In one of his reports, Anderson Cooper of CNN, said, “They’re (referring to the Filipinos) strong not just to have survived this storm. They are strong to have survived the aftermath of this storm. They have survived for a week now often with very little food, very little water, very little medical attention. Can you imagine the strength it takes to be living in a shack, to be living, sleeping on the streets next to the body of your dead children? Can you imagine that strength? I can’t and I’ve seen that strength day in and day out here in the Philippines.”
Thank you for recognizing and honouring that Mr. Cooper. As what we, Filipinos claim, “Filipino spirit is water-proof”, few simple words that describe the resilience of the Filipinos. Not a Haiyan cannot easily destroy that strength. Despite the destruction brought by this super typhoon, Filipinos have remained positive and with the rescue and relief operation that were immediately organized by volunteers from all walks of life it is very evident that “bayanihan” is still alive, it is still in us.
Filipinos have gone through a lot, and for sure we can quickly overcome this situation brought by Haiyan. God bless the Philippines, God bless the Filipinos.