In his traditional Christmas message to the Filipino people delivered the other day, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said the back-to-back calamities that the Philippines suffered in the last quarter of this year should be treated as a test of our spirit.
If so, then we are proud to say that we Filipino people have passed the test. Perhaps not with flying colors, but we passed and continue to pass the test of our resolve to return to normal following a killer earthquake in Bohol and Super Typhoon Yolanda leveling large parts of Central Visayas.
If the national government was found a little wanting, especially in its delayed reaction to the latter weather phenomenon, ordinary Filipinos were not. The bayanihan spirit was strong in the private sector, as individuals, non-government organizations, and private corporations all reacted immediately to extend help to the devastated areas.
Even as the national government was pinning the blame on the local government—notably of Tacloban City, the worst hit of the region—everyone else was asking what they could do to help.
Without that quick reaction, the still undetermined death toll would have been worse. But because so many segments of society reacted immediately, food and water as well as clothing, blankets, medicine and tents, were delivered to the affected areas.
How our people reacted made us proud to be what we are, citizens of the Republic of the Philippines.
Yes, the foreign media was correct in telling the world that there is something extra special about us Filipinos. Not only can we smile in the face of adversity, we can also announce to one and all that we will overcome the worst.
This is what our fellow Filipinos are doing in the areas affected by the twin catastrophes. They are silently struggling to resume the lives that they lived before against odds which only seem insurmountable.
Slowly but surely, the economy is coming back to life. As proof, the biggest mall in Tacloban which had been looted the day after Super Typhoon Yolanda has announced that it would be reopening soon.
Students at all levels have readied themselves to go back to school, while the basic utilities of water and electricity are being restored.
Best of all, the Aquino administration has appointed a restoration czar in the person of former senator Panfilo Lacson, who has been entrusted with a tough task, but one which even his critics say he could well be up to.
The global community has sent or will be sending billions of dollars in aid, and thankfully Lacson has a reputation of being diligent with funds entrusted to him. As proof, he never spent a single centavo of pork barrel in all his years as senator.
We would now like to put the obvious enmity between the Tacloban mayor and the Local Government secretary behind us. Their differences can only worsen what is already an untenable situation, so it is best that both gentlemen leave the politicking to another day.
President Aquino led the Philippines through its most difficult period this year about to end. He is right when he refers to the Filipino people as his boss. And he is lucky that his boss Juan de la Cruz is one hell of a guy, one who can face any difficulty with head held high, and pass any test without too much difficulty.