Saturday, November 16, 2013

Post-Yolanda bayanihan

When I first heard the news of the world's strongest super typhoon entering the Philippine area of responsibility and hitting Visayas, my first thought was, "Thank God it isn't heading for Luzon." Several co-workers and I were traveling to Benguet on Friday, November 8, the day after Yolanda made landfall, and we were climbing Mount Pulag the following afternoon, and although we were fairly sure it wasn't going to pose a problem for us transportation-wise, we were afraid that for our safety our superiors might discourage us from pushing through with our plan.

No one discouraged us but instead just wished us well, and we pushed through, although not exactly according to plan. We couldn't be permitted to climb on Saturday because of the wind so we stayed the night cramped inside one of the rickety cottages at the rangers' station at the jump-off point. We were blessed with clear skies and absolutely no rain the whole day Sunday, however, and we were able to reach Mt. Pulag's summit without the need to carry camping equipment on our backs. Atop the mountain, I was my occasional heartless self, even more distant from the rest of the world, the devastation in Visayas included. We returned to Manila and the reality of corporate life Monday morning.

I do content management for the contact center of a global bank in Eastwood City, and it has been a blast so far. The job perfectly marries work and hobbies I like, such as researching and design thinking (in other words, art, both in digital and tangible media, or "creative shiz," as I like to call it). On Tuesday I was tasked with making teasers for a promo we were going to run the following day. It was an improvement to our usual sales gimmick, where we give Sodexo gift certificates to phone bankers who upsell or "cross-sell" our credit card loan offer to clients. This time they had the option to pledge the GCs they win to our relief drive, for the purchase of provisions for Yolanda victims.

I never gave much thought to what the Yolanda victims were experiencing. Not while Atom Araullo was reporting about it from Tacloban Friday morning. Or Anderson Cooper some days later. Or even when the issue about Korina Sanchez and Mar Roxas broke out. I only did that moment I was browsing through online photos I could borrow for our relief drive. When we were able to raise P3,200 in pledged GCs from the relief some P14,000 more in both GCs and cash from the pockets of those in our unit who just wanted to help. With the money we were able to raise we bought water, crackers and easy-open canned goods which through our Human Resources Department we sent to the victims, along with old clothes, medicine and other provisions we thought could help them.

It was bayanihan at its finest, all in a day's work, even through someone like me who at most times doesn't care what's going on with his contrymen. Let's all help whenever, wherever, and however we can.

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