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Geraldine Uy Wong’s ‘I saw what you saw’ letter to Anderson Cooper (Part 2)

Posted On 2013 Dec 06
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by: Myrna Aquitania

Myrna Aquitania

Myrna Aquitania

4. “The super typhoon decimated a big part of the population, that so many people are still missing and unaccounted for to this day, and the rest who survived were either maimed or injured, were grieving for the loss of a loved one, struggling to cope with the tragedy that befell them, or simply looking for ways to take care of what remained of their family. In other words, everyone was a victim. And who are these people? These were the soldiers, police, Red Cross staff, Social Welfare staff, Airport staff, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) people, nurses, doctors, even officials like the mayor and vice mayor! And so if we look at things in this perspective, we begin to realize why there were no military and police to protect the people in the first few days, no staffers to repack or distribute relief goods, no BFP personnel to take care of clearing up the roads filled with dead people; in other words, there was hardly anyone there to put orderi into things as they were all victims themselves.

5. And of course, let’s not forget that logistics is  the lifestream of relief operations, but could logistics have been tapped properly this time around when all roads were practically closed, nearly all means of transportation were destroyed and if there were any remaining vehicles to move around with. Even the ships could not dock on Tacloban shores. For after all, we have heard that the warehouses filled with food and rice in preparation for the typhoon were all soaked with water, the fuel depots were flooded, and even the evacuation centers where the residents were filled into, precisely to prepare for the coming of the super typhoon, practically served as the death chamber of  these same people. In our language, the fact that these people were properly evacuated and the government had food stocks stored is enough proof that the government prepared for this. But then again, this was no ordinary typhoon. In fact, supertyphoon Yolanda is now being called the worst typhoon to make landfall.

These are only a few of the major points – not to justify but rather to rationalize and logically explain why things happened as they did. To put things in their proper perspective. If America, which was hit by Hurricane Katrina, struggled as well for several days, how in the world could we expect that the Philippines, a much poorer, be able to miraculously stand up on its feet, just a few days after this magnitude of a disaster?

And so I write to you Anderson, to let you know that at this time, when our country is at its darkest moment, Filipinos need to rally for each and every one.  We appreciate what you and Andrew Stevens and the rest of the media are doing, because it keeps our leaders on their toes as they know that the whole world is watching them.

And even as we grieve, we are immensely grateful and overwhelmed with the help, support and love that the whole world has sent our way. As I write this, it is  the 7th day since the disaster struck and now we see more and more people able to escape out of Tacloban, We did our own escape on Tuesday through Cebu Pacific Air, the airline that was the first to offer humanitarian flights to evacuees, with absolutely no charge! More and more roads have opened up for transportation, buses and trucks are filling in to bring relief, as well as to bring the people out. More and more people are given relief distributions, and doctors and paramedics from all over the world are able to come in to set up their medical missions. The ten choppers brought in by the USS warship was an immense boost to ease the logistical nightmare we have initially encountered, with just 3 government C-130’s for use in the first few days. The UK, Australia, Japan, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Hungary, Singapore, UAE and many other countries sent in valuable equipment and transportation aside from aid. And I’m sure, it’s not hard to notice but practically all the citizens of this country contributed in his or her own way to ease the pain of our fellow Filipinos. All told, we expect the sufferings to ease up a little, but it would be ignorant to say that we expect all things to be well. Tacloban, Samar and Leyte will never be the same again. Our country will never be the same again.

Anderson Coooper, after all this is done, please do not forget our country. If you have time, I invite you to go around the other parts of the country which you will find to be extremely good-looking, and you will also find out that the Filipinos are some of the most wonderful and kind-hearted people in the world. Aside from this, I would also request that you and your colleagues do the following:

Please, please, please do whatever you can to make sure that the immense aid in CASH that we have been receiving and continue to receive rightfully go to the rehabilitation of the devastated areas and not to the pockets of the corrupt few. Because you are Anderson Cooper, a well-respected veteran journalist who the world listens to, we ask you to please help the cause of our Philippine Climate Change Commission in negotiator Naderev Sano for concrete steps to halt global warming. We have suffered for so long, how long will we suffer more?

Anderson, can I also ask you to commend and show the pictures of our brave men and women as they perform their tasks, just as you show the ineptness and slow response of our officials to the current situation? Just to be fair to both sides and create an equal balance to the picture. The last thing we want is to see our dedicated volunteers lose their morale.

Lastly, I ask that someday, when the time is right, and the country has risen up from this fall, please come back and show the world that this time we did right. If that day does not come, I will be the first to get out of the Philippines and declare it a banana republic forever.”

U.S. Marines board a KC-130J Hercules aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, to depart for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, Nov. 11, 2013. The Marines are assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David N. Hersey

U.S. Marines board a KC-130J Hercules aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, to depart for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, Nov. 11, 2013. The Marines are assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David N. Hersey

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