By five o’ clock in the afternoon, all roads should lead back to Roxas City for all humanitarian agencies and groups helping out in the reconstruction of communities after Super Typhoon Yolanda.
At six in the evening, everything is dark with the unusually early sunset and the power outage. At this time, too, the Capitol, the seat of government of the province of Capiz, becomes a war zone of sorts. Canadian and British military peruse large maps of Panay, humanitarians plot their strategies to deliver help. UN representatives connect with the world through their satellite phones while network signal remains weak.
The municipal halls also become hubs of help where pivate individuals, civic groups and school organizations flock to by the hour. Office cubicles temporarily holds sacks of rice, plastic bags, and boxes of food and clothing while a streak of light passes through a roofless corner, or a wooden frame dangles about.
Survivors also recount that the church were among the very first to reach out while Yolanda lashed outside. The church had taken in evacuees seeking sanctuary, doled out food, offered prayers and today it continues to do so albeit so discreetly.
But the country has seen that the church, the government, agencies do not have the monopoly of responding and delivering relief to the survivors. Much more astounding is the help coming from civil society – from neighbors.
In all parts of the country, real and virtual, not one is idle or unconcerned, not one is a stranger to another. Shell-shocked by Yolanda, everyone turns to friends, pools resources together, sacrifices his own whims to help the survivors.
The weeks following the greatest storm ever recorded have been a shining moment for humanity. Once again the world is reminded of the goodness in the core of each individual. In goodness, we are one.
There’s the pilot who flew to Leyte on his own to drop relief packs to an unreached town. There’s that laundrywoman who donated P50, half of what she earned that day, and a carpenter who donated three cans of sardines – a luxury he was willing to forgo. There’s that pack of tattooed daredevils who bear all the negative stereotypes a grandmother can think of. They brought relief, cooked a hearty meal for a barangay to feast on, and stayed there to talk and hang out with the survivors.
There are still so many stories about the spirit of giving that shines best at the most vulnerable times. We see past the affectations, the differences and sigh that in each individual is a yearning to forget self, and help. Just like Jesus did; just like what He wants us to do. May this be our gift to Jesus, and may we always look back to these moments of giving when we lose out on the meaning of Christmas.