I remember rainy days in the Philippines. We stayed home and traffic would get crazy. We were never allowed to play in the rain when we were kids, my grandmother thought it would make us sick. It usually rained on my birthday in July. This was the rainy season after all, July and August. But we got used to it… as school children we delighted in those signal number 3 typhoons that meant classes would be suspended. (There are many shanties in the City and I often wondered how these little shacks made of thin plywood of cardboard and galvanized iron roofs held down by an old tire survived the monsoons. But they did. My people are a tough lot and we manage to survive – earthquakes, volcano eruptions and corrupt politicians.
By August the rains would’ve died down and we entered the joyful “BER” months – joyful because September meant Christmas was just 3 months away, October even better because that meant Christmas was around the corner (Yes, Filipinos are said to celebrate Christmas the longest). So when Typhoon Ondoy hit last Friday, it was a surprise. People were ready for rain – but not the torrential downpour and flooding that followed. And now over 300,000 families have been displaced, the death toll is rising.
Over here, I feel helpless. I cannot volunteer to pack food items or join a rescue team. Never have I felt so far away and yet so close to the Motherland. So I tweet, email and blog – trying to see how I can get people to make a difference.
So what can one do being so far away? Pray, send some money — every little bit helps.