It has been more than two weeks since my last post. I did not feel like writing about soap when there were other more pressing issues at hand. As I had mentioned, Cebu City (where I live) narrowly escaped the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan, but thousands of families in the northern part of Cebu province were not as lucky. They lost their homes, but thankfully, the number of casualties was low because they were able to evacuate to safer grounds. However, it was a totally different story in the city of Tacloban and the other municipalities of Leyte. More than 5,000 people died and the destruction was simply staggering.
I am sure most of you have seen enough of the devastation on the news and have had your hearts wrung out. Even though I took a lot of photos of the destruction in Northern Cebu, I thought I’d rather share with you a different side to this tragedy – the innocent and carefree smiles of the children, the resilient spirit of the people, the beauty of the land, and the hope of rising again.
Last weekend, I and a group of friends went to Bantayan Island, one of the areas in the direct path of Typhoon Haiyan. To get there, it is a 3-hour drive to Hagnaya in the north, and from there, another 1.5-hour barge ride to the island of Bantayan, famous for its white sand beaches, and also known as the egg basket of Central Visayas. Bantayan belongs to a group of small islands, and because of their remoteness, it is logistically challenging to reach some of them. Goods have to be loaded from Bantayan on outrigger motor/pump boats to get to the other smaller islands.
We would not have been able to carry out our little relief work by ourselves. First, we needed a truck to haul the goods all the way from Cebu City to Bantayan Island, and from there, load them onto pump boats. Through friends of friends, we were put in touch with Nelson, the proprietor of Anika Island Resort, whose property was the only one miraculously not damaged by the typhoon. With two generators, Anika was the only resort with electricity, so it naturally became the headquarters of relief groups, both foreign and local. Nelson has been personally very much involved with relief works in his area and neighboring islands, and he has also become a point person/coordinator and facilitator for groups wanting to help. We are indeed very grateful for his generosity and kindness.
A short distance from Bantayan Island is the small fishing island of Hilantagaan, home to nearly 900 families, and badly damaged by the typhoon. Together with Nelson and his church group, this was where we distributed relief goods.
In the bigger island of Bantayan, life goes on…
The Philippines has received a tremendous outpouring of generosity and support from many countries, organizations, and individuals from all over the world. Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts.