Hurricanes

21 10 2009

The recent hurricanes that have struck the Philippines have been simply devastating. Doing some quick research revealed these haunting facts:

• Over 150,000 families have been driven from their homes
• Over 140 people have been killed in the disaster
• 17 inches of rain fell on the country, compared to the 10 inches that fell from Katrina a
couple of years ago.
• The amount of rain that fell was the most the Philippines had endured since 1967

Looking at footage and videos from the Philippines, you truly get a grasp of how devastating Hurricane Ketsana (Ondoy) has been. Television footage has shown people carrying their children and few precious possessions with them as they aimlessly wade through flooded streets. People are stranded on rooftops, their own homes destroyed with nowhere to go. People are running out of food, diseases have started to spread, and family members abroad have no way of knowing whether their loved ones are safe or not.

But what has truly opened my eyes and make me feel a connect to what has been going on is the connection many of us have with family and relatives we have in the Philippines. Admittedly, when I heard of the hurricane on the news, I merely continued my day as if nothing had happened. But when I got home and talked to my mom, I found out that one of our relatives actually was in the flood and had his auto-body shop flooded from the hurricane. The story my mom told made me realize how, many times, people are so caught up in their own lives they often become disconnected from the world around them, so that even a natural disaster does not make a difference in their lives. After hearing my mom’s story I realized I really had to take a step back and look at the things that are happening in the world, not just in my world. I think that if people were able to do this, then perhaps more relief would come and more people would realize that problems in the world are not isolated, but affect everyone.

At the end of the New York Times article I read, it stated that after the Philippines had asked for aid, the US had offered $50,000 in aid. $50,000. This, to me, seems unbelievably low. We spend millions in the United States about things that seem trivial compared to the lives and relief needed in the Philippines. In the presidential election alone, millions were donated and spent to run campaigns and post TV commercials. Millions are spent in entertainment – actors make a million dollars doing one episode on a popular TV show. Despite this, we can only afford to give the Philippines $50,000.

Perhaps we as a nation need to take a step back and look at the world and realize that the hurricane in the Philippines affects us as well. This is not something we should merely forget or push aside. We need to focus our attention at what truly matters, and put our efforts to make a difference there.

~Ray Rebong

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