Resilient Filipinos thank the world
By Susan Ople
First posted in Arabnews
Hope springs among the ruins as helping hands reach out across the world to send help to victims of super Typhoon Haiyan. Today, foreign aid for typhoon victims has reached $271 million. In Saudi Arabia, diplomatic officials and Filipino nationals welcomed news about the Saudi king’s donation to typhoon victims with profound appreciation.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has ordered the donation of SR37.5 million ($10m) to typhoon victims. According to the official government website, the Department of Social Welfare and Development would be the conduit for this donation. These funds will go a long way in keeping several evacuation centers running, while making sure that child victims and the elderly get the care that they deserve.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis who served as Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1999 to 2002 noted that, “Such gesture of magnanimity and generosity of King Abdullah to the survivors of typhoon Haiyan in Eastern Visayas is reflective of the Saudi royal family’s soft heart for the Filipinos. When the situation comes to a crunch, the Saudi royal family always comes to the rescue of Filipinos.”
This sentiment was echoed by Jebee Kenji Solis, one of the founders of PEBA, an association of overseas Filipino bloggers: “Millions of overseas Filipinos including all of us in the Kingdom will forever carry a deep feeling of gratitude to the king and the royal family, and the people of Saudi Arabia.”
Eastern Samar Congressman Ben Evardone, whose district was one of the hardest hit by the typhoon, said the overwhelming concern shown by the international community to the Philippines has rekindled hope in devastated communities.
“We are all touched by the love and friendship extended to victims of Typhoon Haiyan from across the seas. It means a lot especially at this time because the needs are immense and urgent,” Congressman Evardone said. He also expressed concern over the economic survival of calamity-hit areas that were 90 percent dependent on coconut plantations for copra production.
“Acres of crops including coconut trees were either pulled out by the roots or flattened to the ground. It would take 5 to 10 years to grow new ones,” he lamented.
Bright spots have recently emerged beginning with the restoration of Tacloban City’s water supply to serve an estimated 150,000 residents. The labor department is finalyzing its emergency employment program in partnership with local government units. It has also opened a call center at its provincial office in Trece Martires, Tacloban City where victims can call their relatives overseas for free.
Massive assistance from the United States that sent more than 50 ships and aircraft including the massive aircraft carrier USS George Washington has made a huge difference in ground operations.
An Australian emergency field hospital in Tacloban City is now treating patients, making full use of its 50-bed ward, an operating theater and a recovery room.
Meanwhile, the Philippine government has launched a website that would allow Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and throughout the world to monitor the inflow of donations from international sources.
The portal known as Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), accessible via www.gov.ph/faith, will provide information on humanitarian aid donated to the Philippine government. If the donations are coursed through government agencies — specifically the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Office of Civil Defense of the Department of National Defense (DND) — the portal will show how the funds were spent.
As typhoon victims slowly recover, the entire nation finds comfort in problems being solved, day-by-day. This week, water supply has been restored at least in Tacloban City. Next month, electricity will light up the afflicted communities. None of these would have been possible without your help and prayers. Thank you, World, for showing what genuine compassion and humanity are all about.