PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan—These days, media, both print and broadcast, has done its homework in giving the public a blow-by-blow account of the extent of the damage Supertyphoon “Yolanda” has wrought in the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Capiz, Iloilo and Northern Cebu, as well as other places that unfortunately lay in its path.
Beyond the imagination and expectation of Leyteños, Warays, Cebuanos and the people of the Calamianes group of islands in Northern Palawan, Yolanda unleashed gigantic, monstrous waves that slammed down and wreaked havoc on everything and anything in its path. And the radio, TV and newspaper reports and accounts confirmed this.
Once again, media has done its job in bridging the distance between the victims and the televiewers, radio listeners and readers, and in reducing the gap between the towns and cities in Eastern Visayas and Metro Manila and even the world. Top news networks have covered and headlined the devastation of Yolanda in the Philippines in their news programs, also seen via cable stations and the Internet.
And more than these, media has fueled the appeal for food and water for the victims, who have become desperate and frustrated by the sheer magnitude of the disaster that has come upon their lives.
Helplessness, hopelessness and vulnerability are written all over the faces of the victims and in the smashed homes, broken windows, roofless establishments, wrecked churches, and damaged walls of government buildings and other structures. The picture of the wiped-out community speaks a thousand words.
Filled to the brim
The response of the private sector, individuals, organized groups, associations and churches has been tremendous and overwhelming. Three big networks have organized telethons soliciting donations for Leyte, Samar and other provinces, and their respective centers or warehouses, where goods are unpacked and repacked, are filled to the brim.
We see on television nameless volunteers sharing their time, talent and treasure, all in the bayanihan spirit of the Filipino, as they sort out the goods for distribution to the victims.
Using the power of information and the influence of media, perhaps, the various news teams can also report on the efforts of individuals, families or groups, no matter how small or clumsy they may seem, to start anew and rebuild their lives.
It is important that media initiate the message of hope, faith and charity to the victims, and give them encouraging words to help them rebuild their lives. Let us not just limit our help and assistance to the needs of the physical body. Let us also revive their spirits. We have to feed their souls.
Local government units need assistance on how to organize communities, and on how local officials, from the towns to the barangays to the sitios, can instill among their folks the bayanihan spirit so that men, women and children can channel their energies to positive activities.
The victims need help to shake off the shock, fear, anxiety and worry affecting them and causing them to think negatively, resulting in the looting and the exodus of Leyteños to Metro Manila to escape the hunger and pain of their situation.
Perhaps media can also drumbeat on this aspect, and steer the concern of everyone toward the rebuilding of lives and communities. Urban planners can assist the national and local governments in rebuilding wiped-out communities.
Now is the time to think, plan and develop Tacloban and other towns in Leyte, Samar and other provinces destroyed by the super howler, and transform them into habitable, livable, safe, secure and ultimately prosperous towns and communities.
Let us not dwell on the nightmare. But let us continue to hope and nurture that hope. Let us continue reminding ourselves that God is with us all the time.