In desperate times



The devastation wrought by the super typhoon last weekend has truly been heartrending that it was such a struggle to write an uplifting column this week. From one tragedy after another, our country has borne the brunt of the toughest disasters of this decade. Being an archipelago geographically situated right smack in a risk-prone area in the Pacific leaves us all feeling extremely vulnerable to the whims of nature.

It is so heartbreaking to think that death and destruction came like a thief in the night, as howling winds and five-meter high waves for many families in Tacloban, Iloilo, Samar, Coron and all the towns in the typhoon’s path. From all accounts, no one could have ever been completely prepared for the wrath of nature. It is extremely troubling to see grief-stricken families recount how helpless they had been in saving loved ones, their homes, and their only possessions. It was only days after the super typhoon hit that the survivors’ tales gave a human face to the fury of the typhoon.

Then, in an act of desperation, survivors rampaged and looted whatever they could get their hands on. It was like a scene from a disaster movie—where all hell breaks loose and the situation turns chaotic. As these images fill the news, disbelief grips us as they are indeed unexpected from a generally gentle and prayerful people. And yet, we all empathize too with how survival instincts push one to act in desperate times. While we are inherently resilient because of faith and the bayanihan spirit, we all fear that for a distressed and desperate populace, they can reach a breaking point.

It is but human for us all to share the fear of disasters and calamities—nature’s reminders of how life is only momentary and absolutely unpredictable. Words may never capture the pain and grief the survivors feel. Nor can we express enough the empathy we all feel for the affected families, orphans, and even hard-working professionals who have lost so much in a blink of an eye.

Yet, in the direst circumstances, it is remarkable that there is an unexpected outpouring of charity and generosity from people and governments everywhere in the world Just imagine how the prisoners of Mun-tinlupa gave up a meal as their act of giving. As a first, political lines were crossed in carrying out relief efforts. And for most, everyone volunteered in their own way in their schools, communities, and charities.

It is so true that the best in people can only be revealed in the most trying times. So too are we reminded of our moral obligation to give. And in these desperate times, there is still so much good in people we can be hopeful about.


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