MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Philippines took to social media and bought ad space in the world’s most prominent strips Saturday to thank the global community for its help three months after a devastating typhoon that killed 8,000 people.
Electronic billboards lit up simultaneously at New York’s Times Square, Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing, and London’s Piccadilly Circus early Saturday, at the exact time Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines on November 8, 2013.
“The number of lives lost and affected is unprecedented. But ever since then, the world has been one with the Philippines in helping rebuild the nation,” the tourism ministry behind the ad campaign said on its website.
“This February 8… exactly three months after the typhoon, we want to be one in expressing our gratitude,” the ministry said on its Twitter account, where it also posted pictures of the billboards.
Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever to hit land, smashed across 171 towns and cities in the central islands with a combined land area the size of Portugal, wrecking the homes of more than four million people.
The government is still collecting corpses and looking for nearly 2,000 missing people after the deaths of 6,201 victims were confirmed, many of them swept away by giant, tsunami-like waves unleashed by Haiyan on coastal communities.
As those in the disaster zone struggle to rebuild with the help of international humanitarian organisations, the tourism ministry urged the world’s 100 million Filipinos on Saturday to let the world know of their gratitude in its “#PHthankyou” campaign on social media.
It urged them to download some of the ministry’s “The Philippines says thank you” notes, plastered on pictures showing the country’s top tourist draws, and post them on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social networking sites.
Russell Geekie, spokesman for the UN disaster agency in the Philippines, told AFP the government-led relief effort has addressed many of the survivors’ most acute emergency needs.
It was shifting to an “early recovery” phase with a focus on restoring livelihoods for millions of people, he added.
However, “shelter needs remain enormous”.
“Obviously we talk about resilient people, but the scope of the disaster and destruction is such that it’s very hard. There are remaining psycho-social needs that need to be met,” he said.
These include finding the hundreds missing to give their families “closure”.
The United Nations launched an international aid appeal in December for $788 million to finance the humanitarian effort for this year. Geekie said the appeal is about 45 percent funded.
President Benigno Aquino has said the rebuilding effort would take at least four years and require more than $8 billion in funding.(MNS)