A Letter Before the Disaster: Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Past Thursday midnight, I was browsing the internet for the weather forecast on the typhoon Haiyan that was about to make landfall to the eastern islands of the Philippines in a few hours. I was scared but I felt that I had no right to be scared. Since I left the Philippines, I had been indifferent to the many issues back home–from the corrupt politicians to their incapable agencies.  The distance and dismay have left me indifferent, as I believed. But I was wrong. I have always felt for my people.  So I prayed, thanked God that my family were not living in the area, and pleaded that those who were will be able to survive this one, the strongest typhoon in recorded history.

My worry was not eased. And like all the other times in the past when I was overwhelmed with emotions, I wrote.


To my beloved country, the Philippines,
today, I cry for you–for the super typhoon that will devastate
your flimsy roofs and broken walls.
I cry because I’m not there
and I can’t feel the immediate danger that engulfs
your torn but steadfast spirit.

Yesterday, I cried for you–for the greedy politicians who trample upon
your unrequited love for freedom and democracy.
I cry because I’m not there
and I can’t feel the disappointment that shatters
your confused but hopeful spirit.

For many years, I cried for you–
for your tired workers, hungry children and homeless mothers;
for your burnt mountains, dried rivers and polluted seas;
for the leaders you trusted but betrayed you;
for the friends you embraced but stabbed you.
I cry asking, “when will your suffering end?”
These tears had rolled down the bloody cheeks
of our heroes hundreds of years ago.
And these tears will roll down the pale cheeks
of every child born in this time of destruction and corruption.

I cried for those who left and never returned
because they couldn’t or they’re gone.
I can’t demand for something to be done.
I can’t complain the same complaints.
I’m ashamed and I cry for not being there.

To my beloved country, the Philippines,
you have braved the foreign swords.
You have raised the flag of peace.
You have withstood countless storms.
Today, like all the other days, you will stand up like the sun rising in the east
while the light of dawn dries my tears.


The aftermath of the disaster was heartbreaking but it’s time to rebuild what was left. The world has come to help and we are deeply grateful. For those who wish to assist my fellow Filipinos, there are several ways you can do so. Maraming salamat.

Photo credit: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters http://goo.gl/lDOwBu

Photo credit: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters (http://goo.gl/lDOwBu)

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