The party of US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr left Manila at 8:00 am on board a C12 bound for Davao City. One of the purpose of the trip was to meet with the Philippine Government officials regarding the relief, rescue, rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Super Typhoon Pablo or Bopha. Enroute to Davao City the Ambassador’s party was to do a flyover the disaster sites.
On the whole the trip was uneventful as we approached Mindanao clear blue skies gave way to cloudy grey overcast. As the plane flew over Boston, Caraga, New Bataan, and Compostela valley or Comval we caught glimpses of the area blown or washed away. One was not sure whether the shots taken were good. It was only after viewing the shots did the gravity of what happened sinked in. Coconut Plantations and farms looked like match sticks scattered all over the floor, except this was not a floor it was the whole ground from above.
One is tempted to say it reminded me of recent post-disasters but somehow one is reminded of an old photo from a reader’s digest book about natural disasters – the one that happened in Russia, when a meteor hit a forest – the trees fell the same way.
The gravity of the situation became much more clearer when the Ambassador’s party reached Davao City. Meetin after meeting one could hear the destruction statistics from plantations, waterfalls, corals, buildings, houses, bridges and the other things that fell. Followed by the list of people missing, injured or dead – including a sizable number of fishermen from General Santos who were at Sea when Pablo or Bopha sit, one of the boats was found in Indonesia.
Despite this all there was a resiliency present and much more. Amidst all these reports of destruction there were also reports and efforts in rescue, relief. Help came from the National and local government; the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Police; friends and allies – like the US and the US Embassy (providing financial aid, logistics (planes to ferry in much needed supplies), and search & rescue operations; and the people themselves – The day before leaving for Davao City , a friend told me that instead of spending for a christmas party this year they decided to donate to the victims of Typhoon Pablo and the other day people from twitter held a tweet-up for the benefit of the victims of Typhoon Pablo. And it seemed that this was replicated through out Philippine Society. In a sense it is more than charity – It is bayanihan.
ENROUTE TO DAVAO CITY
ON THE WAY BACK TO MANILA