A Filipino perspective on Typhoon Haiyan destruction

Jeniece Montellano, Staff Reporter

Super Typhoon Haiyan hits close to home for me. A lot of family on my mom’s side and relatives from my dad’s side lives in the Philippines and my older brothers were born and raised in the Philippines for the first few years of their lives. I’ve been to the Philippines many times, and I am very proud of my Filipino culture. Hearing about the devastation caused by Haiyan, so soon after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that had hit Bohol and Cebu just two months prior, grieved me. I’ve seen how overpopulated the Philippines is, and a storm of that size and intensity was definitely going to affect a lot of lives. Many people that were hit by the earthquake and no longer had homes were living in tents when the typhoon hit, and were swept away by the water.

I’ve also seen the beauty of the Philippines. The colorful character of the markets, lined along the streets, the vast variety of sweet fruit and vibrant flowers and the awe-inspiring landmarks unique to these islands truly take your breath away. It’s not only the loss of lives that upsets me. The loss of the old Spanish churches, the gold statues and the thriving provinces adds a whole new dimension to this disaster. We Filipinos are very proud of our heritage and our country. The devastation caused by Haiyan deeply affects all of us, regardless of where we may live now.

I am proud of the outpouring of efforts to help those who are now homeless and in desperate need of food and water. So many Filipinos have rallied together to do what they can to help. My family lives north of where the typhoon hit, so they’re safe. They immediately made care packages filled with food, water and other necessities to send out to Samar, one of the more isolated parts of the Philippines that was decimated by the typhoon. My parents, brothers and I have sent money to my family in the Philippines so they can buy more supplies to make more care packages. My aunt and uncle in Canada have also donated money.

In mid-January, my parents are going on a medical mission with other Filipino doctors that live in the Chicago area. They had originally planned to go to donate medical supplies and provide medical and surgical care to only the people of Cavite and Marinduque. Now, they are extending their trip in order to help out in either Guiuan in Eastern Samar or Ormoc in Leyte, both smaller and more isolated areas. They plan on donating more medical supplies and providing medical and surgical care in these areas as well.

I wish that I had the time to go to the Philippines and help out in those provinces. Instead, all I can do is donate what I have and urge all of you to do the same. American money goes a long way in the Philippines, and even just $10 can buy a day’s worth of food and water for an entire family as well as help pay for medical supplies. Every little bit helps.

I know that the Philippines will ultimately be okay. We will be strong and continue to rebuild, one day at a time.