The montage of photographs on my Facebook Wall over the last few days told the story of the ravage brought about by the monsoon rains last week. There was hardly any need for words.
Aerial shots taken by the Philippine Air Force and featured on the Telegraph gave readers a view of how several provinces were inundated by the 700-plus millimeters of rain.
A haunting black-and-white photograph of the University of Santo Tomas taken at dusk was put side by side with the flooded and very sunken garden of UP Diliman, showing readers that in the midst of calamity, serenity and beauty could still be found. Beside them was an album of photos of people from all walks of life doing heroic acts, such as the Philippine Coast Guard braving the deepest and murkiest of waters, and going out on a limb to save women, children and the elderly precariously perched on rooftops.
Floods, like death, are a great leveler. This was humorously pointed out in a New York Times article, which described a scene in Marikina:
“…(A)n eerie line of slow-moving evacuees could be seen on Thursday afternoon making their way from a submerged neighborhood to higher ground. In one large, colorful inflatable beach raft sat a 12-year-old boy playing a PlayStation Portable as his 10-year-old sister carried an infant dressed in immaculate white footie pajamas.
“Having been stranded for days on the second floor of their home near the river, their parents decided that it was time to move in with relatives until the water subsided. Surrounded by inundated shacks and grinding poverty, the clean, well-dressed children were completely dry in the large toy raft, which was pulled by six shirtless men with grim expressions. Beside them were neatly packed designer suitcases and backpacks.”
Only in the Philippines!
But there were scenes of generosity.
According to online news site Rappler, a poor man whose house was situated between the posh villages of La Vista and Loyola Grand Villas, opened his house to a single mother with six children. “Tutal pare-pareho naman tayong mahihirap, e di magtulungan na lang,” he explained.
Meanwhile, last Aug. 8, 12,000 prisoners at the state penitentiary gave up their dinner so that the money could be donated to the flood victims.
Meanwhile, students of the Enderun Colleges, the culinary and hospitality arts school, worked overnight to cook and prepare some 10,000 packages that were later distributed to evacuation centers in Marikina.
In Makati, restaurateur Margarita Fores was moved to tears after her client canceled an event that she was catering for and directed that the food, which had already paid for, be given to flood victims instead.
Gaita’s Cibo by the way, will donate 15 percent of its sales from all branches to flood victims on Aug. 22, the restaurant’s 15th anniversary.
Yabu House of Katsu at Megamall did the same. Last Aug. 9, proceeds from its net sales went to flood victims.
In whatever way, people did what they could, with whatever talents or resources they had, to help out. Whether it was as simple as clicking a mouse to make an online donation or pledge, or rolling one’s sleeves up to pack bags at a relief center, or cooking meals and packing sandwiches, people helped the victims.
Admittedly it was difficult to maintain one’s calm during the floods. But the show of heroism and generosity quelled whatever anxiety there was on people seeking to help out.
With the generous display of kindness and courage, we have been humbled and reminded that God is on the same boat with us. Amid calamities, we find Him in the smiles of people ravaged by the flood, in the courage of little children hanging on to dear life, in the photos that find beauty in flooded landscapes, in the brave men of the Coast Guard, in the prisoner who gave up his meal so that others could eat.
If they, who have so little, can give so much of themselves, then how much more is expected from us who have been blessed and spared from the ravages of the floods? The sun has slowly returned, so let’s not forget to pay forward in accordance with our means.
Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune—without the words, and never stops at all.” In the Philippines, hope is what stays afloat, keeping us above the water. And by His grace, we find hope in abundance everywhere and in everyone.
Follow the author on Twitter @cathybabao or e-mail her at [email protected].