After Yolanda

The Philippines is a group of islands located in the ring fire. As such a typhoon – along with its cousins , Earthquakes and volcanoes – have been frequent destructive visitors. It was something one has to live with. There is noticeably a growing destructive strength in natural disasters each year.

The arrival of Haiiyan or Yolanda was different. From the weather and satellite photos and images one word came into mind Brogdinagian. In Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels – Brogdinag was a land populated by giants. Indeed this storm was a giant.

As it approached it blotted out the country and I was told by a friend that from outer space our blue planet had big twirling mass or clouds covering the sea and land it travelled on.

We waited to see where it would reach land. Would it be Luzon, Visayas, or Mindanao? The people were preparing. The government was also preparing. On the eve of Haiyan/Yolanda s arrival everyone I knew was going home early and bracing for the onslaught.

When it did hit, Part of me was relieved but this was short-lived for Haiyan hit somewhere else. The typhoon hit Visayas and Mindanao. Initial news came from radio, television and social media. Spoken word, moving images, images and words painted a grim picture of the storm. Houses destroyed or leveled. People dead, dying or missing. Trees blown away like match sticks over a muddy and bloody table.

People searching for loved ones went online and other media channels. Whether it be Facebook or twitter. Messages went to and fro looking for loved ones; and people just checking if family and friends were safe. I received several messages from twitter and facebook asking if i was safe.

When the storm departed the full damage of the brute force was seen. Entire towns were leveled in Leyte and Samar. Making them uninhabitable. Imagine ocean waves coming in destroying sand castles. Then try to imagine instead of sand castles these are a city or town s buildings with people living inside.

Actual numbers of casualties have not yet come in. In Tacloban City some estimates put the number of fatalities to Ten Thousand. I am afraid that as a whole it may reach more than tha

In a Post-Haiyan world. There is a need to re-think a number of things: from risk management to how we build our houses and where we build our houses. It is a re-think of how we live.

During such trying times there are shining lights. The Filipino has a word called Bayanihan, loosely it translates as community effort to help – in a way it is crowd-sourcing on the ground. People donating time, goods, money and efforts to help in the rescue, relief and reconstruction efforts. On-line a number people have been using social technology to identify relief and rescue centers; while another loosely group of individuals have banded together man and set-up a people finder using google technology. These are but some of the things being done now on the ground and on-line. And the task has just began.


In recent days there have been and still are criticisms over how the tragedy was managed and more pointedly CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s statement has sparked the proverbial Hornet’s Nest and reflex-defense reaction from certain sectors. While it is true that eveything possible was done and being done given the limitation of resources and manpower, one cannot escape the fact that there is a big gap that needs to be filled and an even bigger chasm of attitude and behaviour that needs to be addressed.

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