Heaven on Earth

FROM THE HEART - Gina Lopez (The Philippine Star) - November 24, 2013 - 12:00am

It was bad, the Yolanda disaster. But what’s been tremendous is the level of response from all sectors, all walks of life, all age brackets. It’s been nothing short of awesome. Almost all socials have been cancelled. The ABS-CBN Christmas party has been cancelled. Instead we are having a Thanksgiving Mass. Most restaurants and dining establishments have or are contributing a day, half a day for the Yolanda victims. It’s close to universal. My goodness, even retail sales in all the malls are down.

 I attended a concert — the best ever at ABS-CBN. It was super inspiring. Especially the part when Gary Valenciano asked everyone who sympathized with the Yolanda victims to light up their phones and wave them. All of a sudden the stadium was a sea of lights waving with the song. Wow! And all the songs were about hope, working together.

After the concert, an ebullient Lauren Dyogi told me that none of the stars were paid. Even the equipment was free! The stadium (Araneta Coliseum) was booked for free. It took them five days to prepare for this concert. Five days? That’s unreal. Usually it takes months. Andtwo days to sell out! The crowd was jam-packed with paying customers! Everyone was wearing the T-shirts: “Tulong na, Tabang na, Tayo na!” I have been told that T-shirt sales were crazy; it’s like everyone — but everyone — wants to help!

At the concert, I felt the distinct presence of angels giving to the country. Effusive, I texted Charo Santos-Concio (president of ABS-CBN), Cory Vidanes (channel head), Gabby, and Lauren Dyogi (production head): “The greatest gift one can give is the gift of hope.” The greatest legacy one can leave is the legacy of a culture that loves God, cares about people. That was done that evening. I am sure Daddy was smiling brightly.

I went to the concert because the Araneta Group of Companies pledged P11 million for typhoon Yolanda victims. I ended up staying until the very end because my heart was so touched by the energy around. It continued to be touched the next day when I brought my kids along to repack goods. It continues to be touched every single second as I feel this wave of compassion engulfing the country.

Our repacking is 24/7. We even have volunteers repacking at midnight! Everyone but everyone is helping. The shipping lines are helping bring the goods. The airlines are providing their aircraft to bring the goods. There is no one not doing something. Marcel Riñon, the head of our repacking effort, has his own share of stories: kids graciously giving up their “life savings” to help out. Individuals pooling resources to rent big trucks and solicit relief goods from Sagip Kapamilya for transport to their respective villages... even an old couple on a scooter bringing two boxes of mineral water and food items. There is even one story of a retired husband and wife who donated one month of their pension amounting to P10,000.

Heaven on earth. That’s what this feels like. When people’s hearts join together, it creates a space of heartness. While Yolanda brought on a wave of destruction to the physical plane, the aftermath of Yolanda is a tidal wave of heartness and compassion. Tears well; it feels like heaven. It feels like home.

It covers everywhere. I was with Cora Jimenez of MMDA and she said all the President’s men are in Tacloban. Even the President is there! An Air21 executive told me that they are still in dire circumstances. But they are determined.

My goodness, even the prisoners are helping. Even the security guards in my gated establishment contacted my staff They want to repack as well. Heaven  People care — and the caring is massive. This creates a space where the angels can land, and give, and give and give.

I so love the Philippines. On Sunday while repacking with my kids and my kids’ friends and their mothers, there were military and police personnel. In the evening I revisited the packing area. My brother Ernie was there with his church mates. Different schools are packing for DSWD. Our country is so very, very rich in terms of heartness.

 It is because of this that I continue to be convinced that our future is bright. Oh, if only we could use our hearts all the time — not only when we have a disaster! If only heads of companies, heads of government could use their hearts in making key decisions…

Someone once said, “The heart is the strongest muscle…” Let the heart feeling for the common good be the driving force in making key decisions for our country — the benefit of the majority versus the benefit of a few.

Manila Bay reclamation

I just talked to Kelvin Rodolfo. He is an expert on storm surge. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois in Chicago. This is what he says: any kind of reclamation in an earthquake-prone place is insanity. Reclaimed land does not stand a chance against earthquakes. A PAGASA map shows that the eastern part of the bay has already received numerous storm surges, as much as four meters. Pedring, which did so much damage, was only 12 meters! Given climate change and the fact that Manila Bay has a history of storm surges, it is insane to put property in a reclaimed area. It is a recipe for disaster. 

The compassion one feels for others must necessarily translate into common sense. 

Estero news

I visited the esteros on Monday and I would like to share with you the scenes that greeted me. In the aftermath of Yolanda, this was a welcome site to see. (View this link to watch the birds flying in our esteros: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrNC_5ARiFo&feature=youtu.be or search “Birds in Estero de San Miguel”)

Last Wednesday morning, we had the launching of “Estero de Santibañez”. (View this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH-l1nl_VbU&feature=youtu.be) This was done by DPWH. They did a superb job! The Miss Earth International Contenders were there and they were so impressed. Erap was the chief guest. I would have wanted Secretary Babes Singson to be there as it is a project of DPWH but all the President’s men are busy with Tacloban. The barangay captains were present. The River Warriors of Santibanez took their oath. The place is gorgeous. The future is so very bright.

* * *

Erratum: Last Sunday, I wrote my article inviting everyone to participate in the Awakening of the Third Eye on Dec. 7-8, at Manansala 7th floor, function room in Rockwell. You can send your reservations to this e-mail address — sarahjane_bulan@abs-cbn.com — or call 415-2272 local 3791 and ask for Sarah. I wrote the wrong e-mail in my previous column. Apologies.
I can be reached at


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