"Tabangan nindo sinda"

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It rained hard for the very first time this year in Metro Manila this afternoon.  But for our countrymen in the Bicol region and the Eastern Visayas, the New Year meant rains, landslides, and sleepless nights in the evacuation centers.  Who knows what they’ll go home to when the rains subside and the landslides abate: probably more than just wet floors, and muddy tracks on the wall.  Thousands of them have been evacuated.  Some of them have already died under the mercy of La Niña.

Life’s not going to be easy for them, especially if you live in that part of the Philippines: the rim of the Ring of Fire, the provinces that suffer the brunt of typhoons and storm-fronts.  Life isn’t easy for them, to begin with: some of the provinces most affected by the landslides and the torrential rains and flash-floods are among the poorest in the Philippines.  Provinces like Southern Leyte, the Samar provinces, Quezon, and the Surigao provinces.  Some of the provinces most affected by the calamity are among the ones most likely to be affected by nature’s dangers: Albay, the Caraga region, Leyte.

During rains and storms that affect these islands, it is the poorest people from these provinces who find themselves in evacuation centers, suffering more than they should for want of relief, medical treatment, and shelter.  Many of them women, children, and the differently-abled.  Save for the coughing fits on mats spread over damp concrete floors, there are the rationed relief goods which seem to be never enough, or not sufficient for their nutrition.  In the end they go home to rebuild their lives or what remains of it.  Their resilience in adversity is one to admire…

But you can’t be resilient when you’re shivering, starving, and sickly in an evacuation center, with 22 days of non-stop rain and the threat of landslides and mudslides slowly creeping up on your simple, vulnerable livelihood.

Back then, we were helped by these poorer provinces in the midst of our day with disaster.  The few million pesos, the cavans of rice, the aid and the support that flew in to Ondoy victims here in Metro Manila came from them.  I’m not saying we should help them to pay them back: I’m saying we should help them in their time of need.

From the Philippine National Red Cross: cash and check donations via the indicated bank accounts, or SMS RED <space> ON to 4483 (Smart subscribers) or RED <space> AMOUNT to 2899 (Globe subscribers).

The national headquarters of the PNRC is at Bonifacio Drive, Port Area, Manila, (email at prc@redcross.org.ph) for donations in kind, like non-perishable food items and hygiene kits.  When donating in kind, please go for things that are physically useful for the victims, like canned food, noodles, rice, toothbrushes, toothpaste, rubbing alcohol, sanitary napkins, soap, shampoo, and towels: toys and candies and such are appreciated but may not be the more pressing needs of the victims.

“Tabangan nindo kami,” some of them may wail and plead, and I hope that in our hearts, we heed that call.  Thanks.

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