by NORMA HENNESSY
PINOY-AUSSIES in South Australia continue to campaign for help for the victims and survivors of typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).
The consulate in Adelaide serves as a conduit of information update about the Philippine situation following the calamity that wreaked havoc to two thirds of the Philippine archipelago. With so many groups and individuals intent on giving help in anyway they could, the consulate has been busy guiding these efforts through. Radyo Pilipino (Ethnic Radyo Pilipino, Inc. – ERPI) raised monies for the victims during its Springtime Sayawan last November 17 at the Croatian Club in Brompton. The group of Ormocanos also ran a drive for this same purpose. Other groups- FILCCA, Sto. Nino de Filipinas, FACSA, Filpina network SA, Inc., Sampaguita, El Shaddai, Anahata, Lusvinda of Tasmania, Aida & Carmen Garcia, Agote Fam, Prizzi Family and Laborte all joined hands to do the same, following their most recent donation to earthquake victims in Bohol. Zandro Sta. Maria led the Filipino community in Bordertown in gathering donations for the victims of the typhoon which they coordinated with the consulate.
INDIO Foundation has also been facilitating donations from other states to get through Caritas-Manila, while it continues to collect donations in kind and monetary from donors through fund-drives in coordination with Manila Trading (Station Arcade, North Terrace, Adelaide), Next Cut Hairdressing Salon (corner Richmond and Marion Road), Vilma Paasuke, Rebecca Cooper and Lei Acevedo. Generosity and kindness overflows. Donors come as far as Alice Springs. My sister-in-law, Jane called me up on the day that the first bits of information about the aftermath of the typhoon Yolanda trickled into the news. She and husband Neil had their share of encounter with natural disaster and they could very well relate with the survivors and victims of the havoc that was wreaked by the typhoon. Neil went through the ordeal wrought by Cyclone Tracy on December 1974 in Darwin – one of the most significant tropical cyclones in Australia’s history. Ordeals that test the human spirit also leave in its wake and among its survivors , a thread of life’s universal essence – empathy. With the inflow of donations and caring thoughts from all across the globe, life from the wreckage is drawn by flickers of hope to rise again.
In the wake of this horrendous havoc, an avalanche of humanitarian support and assistance poured in. And it continued to flood-in to a point of congestion. The clog-up has rendered vast amounts of donations-in-kind spoiled or destroyed because the pace of distribution cannot cope with the rate of massive donations inflow. One could not help wondering whether this almost euphoric yearning of Filipinos around the globe to send anything emerges as a conscience ‘guilt’ trip. Or is it fear triggered by our conscious awakening to the reality of nature’s omnipotence. Perhaps the rush of empathy comes with the awareness of the fragility of our mortality.
Good and bad things tend to rise from the havoc. Some beautiful things may spring at the same time that some things distort themselves into ugliness that lurk in the hearts of man. When there was an almost euphoric deluge of material assistance from the international community in the aftermath of the typhoon, something not right reared its head shamelessly at the sight of material plenty. It was a Filipino’s distrust against his fellow Filipino. It was blatantly displayed in peoples’ audacity with their statements that were steep with suspicion against their own kind and that were circulated in various social net works in the web. I bristle at such vulgarity of exposing dirty laundry to all and sundry. It was saddening that politics came into play and that there was more concern about bureaucracy, protocols, defensive pussy-footing for fear of being accused of theft or corruption with regards to the distribution of goods, rather than how to best attend to the most immediate need of rescuing and saving lives. It was no consolation to reason with the benefit of the doubt – that perhaps the distrust is the expected outcome of perfidy gone mad in a cultural society that continues to be bound by self inadequacy. It was no excuse that the scandalous Napoles pork barrel scam has just exploded, has shaken the credibility of the government to the core and has wiped it out down to zilch.
Yet one cannot help but see that It is a DISGRACE. It is a DISGRACE that care should be focused on distrust in the face of overwhelming catastrophe. To distrust is to scoff at all efforts to lift the situation above the horrendous wreckage. It minimizes the good intentions including those of the help and rescue volunteers from around the globe all of whom are equipped with the highest sense of duty, decency, skills, equipment for the preservation of LIFE. The very act and presence of these rescue volunteers at the devastation site, speak of respect they have for the sanctity of life. It is therefore doubly sad when DISTRUST of a fellowman takes the better part of people and make them callous of their measure of others.
Perhaps the catastrophic mess that typhoon Yolanda left in its wake has forced us to confront our individual ghosts as a people; bringing out this tragic reality in people dwelling in self- repulsion, to distrust their own kind. It has made travesty of a people that have made themselves a face of tragedy.
And it seems that it is the image we are inclined to live-up to with our sad revulsion of each other and in our distrust in the government of our choice which we incidentally put in place with our bargained off votes. With our distrust in ourselves, we inconsiderately demand the superhuman from the overworked and stressed out volunteers on site while we are ensconced in our comfort zones, judging and demanding because we feel that we are entitled to do such in return for the pittance that we doled out.
Meanwhile, the wheel of bureaucracy has taken over the relief and rescue operations. While donations have piled up in designated storage places to be ‘processed’, survivors in various locations continue to wait for repackaged goods that trickled down to them in bits and pieces and between days of waiting time.