The rebuilding process
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2013 - 12:00am

These days it really does seem impossible to think about news without still thinking about the deadly typhoon that ravaged our country last Nov. 8. While things are slowly and I mean very slowly, starting to get a little better, this is still tempered with stories that keep coming in about the horrors that the survivors faced and the uncertainty they still face about their own future.

That’s one of the things that is most important to remember now. This is the type of disaster that won’t get fixed in a mere ten days, or 20 even, or a year. The process of moving past this is going to be long and arduous and one that will continue going even long after the next big problem arises that captures the media attention.

I think that’s really something that we always have to remind ourselves of in the days to come. This type of rebuilding process is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. While we have such an incredible outpouring of support and love from our countrymen both here in the Philippines and our friends from around the world, I think we all know that sustaining it is going to be the real challenge. What happens when the emergency teams leave and the military from abroad has to finally bid us farewell? Then we’ll be left to truly begin picking up the pieces on our own.

From what I have already seen being done by enterprising and caring citizens in the Philippines, I know that we can do it – government problems aside. The real heroes here have been those who have stepped up to the plate without asking for anything in return. Those who do not have the “job” of helping, but do so because they want to and they genuinely care.

One of the silver linings of the storm is seeing how people band together to find ways to raise funds, to send aid, even just to lend a hand or a shoulder to cry on for the survivors. Things that may seem small to us are of great significance to others who have lost everything and even the simple gesture of offering a hot bowl of soup can instantly lift the spirits even for a split second of someone completely traumatized.

I applaud the efforts of those doing what they can to help those in need. As I said, nothing is too small. Every cent counts. From day one I have seen church groups, corporate groups, and even just families coming together to provide aid to their brothers and sisters in need. Even celebrities and ordinary citizens abroad are doing what they can. Who can forget the photos of the famous rapper whose children packed boxes of their own clothes to send, or the little girls who raised money through a sidewalk lemonade stand to turnover to the Red Cross, or the little Japanese boy who asked his mother to bring him to the Philippine Embassy to turn over the contents of his piggy bank?

And it’s not only abroad that it’s happening. Even in Manila you hear stories of little boys begging on the streets to give their P10 earnings for the day to a Red Cross or relief group in an attempt to give what little they can. Or the grandmother who lovingly gave her half eaten box of crackers because it was all she had and she knew someone else could definitely use it. It’s stories like these that make me hopeful that the world is not completely overrun by corruption.

It’s sadly fitting actually that it is the holidays because that just means we can truly celebrate the meaning of the season and help those in need. I have heard about fundraisers now soliciting toys and books for children so that they have a moment of cheer during the holidays. Most of these special holiday themed charity drives even ask for the goods to be wrapped to make them even more special. It’s important to remind those in distress that there is still hope and we are all pulling for them.

We do what we can to help, in any way we can. At the Tuesday Club, we have decided to cancel our traditional Christmas party at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel in December. Though it’s something we look forward to at the end of the year, but this year we all feel it is more important to focus our attention on the on-going relief efforts. I can’t help but feel that this is an even more important way to celebrate our milestone 20th anniversary, by offering our help and presence (and presents as well if possible) to those who really need it and could really use a break.

As I mentioned in an earlier piece, the Tuesday Club is an informal group of senior journalists, business executives, corporate communications professionals, and more with a variety of special guests who come together every Tuesday for breakfast and fellowship at the Heat of Edsa Shangri-la Hotel which has been our home from the very beginning. It’s an incredible milestone to be celebrating 20 years of fellowship and friendship and I look forward to many more.

And as I said, though we will not have our regular Christmas celebration and annual raffle this year, that does not mean we can’t still find ways to give. I know the kindhearted members of our group will no doubt have their own way to spread blessings this season to those who need it most.

Indeed, the rebuilding process is going to be a long one, but if we work together there is nothing we can’t do. We just have to remember and take turns and help each other so as not to burn out. Do not hesitate to continue donating what you can in terms of logistics, food, clothing, medication, and more to help our countrymen who are still suffering. There is no better way to celebrate the spirit of the Season.


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