This year, the Visayas was hit with two major natural disasters within a span of a month.
On October 15, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook Cebu and flattened Bohol. Less than a month later, on Nov. 8, the “perfect storm” called Typhoon Yolanda made landfall in the country. The huge typhoon destroyed cities in its wake as it made its way through the country.
A few short days after the earthquake, even with ongoing strong aftershocks and Cebuanos were still scrambling to secure their homes and offices, private citizens began organizing themselves to send aid to Bohol. Within a few days, relief goods from Cebu poured into Bohol by the boatload.
Cebuanos barely took a breath when Super typhoon Yolanda hit and once again, the city that was still shaken from the quake was battered by the storm. Luckily, the city was spared for the most part and after the Cebuanos quickly stirred into action and less than 24 hours after the storm, relief started flowing to the Northern towns of the province which were more severely affected.
In a few days, private citizens took it upon themselves to organize relief operations all throughout Northern Cebu and even reached as far as Ormoc, Tacloban and Samar. The amount of goods leaving the city was so vast that traffic jams occurred all the way up to Bantayan Island. There weren’t enough boats to carry all the relief goods private citizens have prepared for people in Leyte. Medical missions were lined up and feeding operations were swiftly organized.
My facebook newsfeed are filled with news of people collecting donations for Bohol and was followed with even more news of people scrambling to help victims of the typhoon. Most of them are not just donating money, most are personally overseeing operations to ensure that the relief goods will reach their intended recipients.
Soon, Cebu wasn’t just a source of relief… it became a hub for evacuees from Tacloban. Even before the first evacuees arrived, Cebuanos were already preparing to welcome them with open arms. Feeding schedules for the evacuation centers were set up and used clothing were donated and made available for the evacuees. Cebuanos made different programs to give evacuees some comfort, dignity and little bit of joy in their own little way.
The Earthquake and the storm are tragedies that we could not have predicted or prepared for. It is a tragedy that so many people have lost their homes, businesses and even worse, their lives or those of their loved ones. To see so much suffering was gut wrenching.
However, it also brought out the best in a lot of people. Cebuanos have really risen to the task of not just helping a little, but giving of themselves unconditionally.
I am only an adopted Cebuano by marriage.. but I’m proud to be part of a community that, despite being directly affected by the storm, still managed to show so much compassion and empathy for victims not just within the province but throughout the Visayas.
I feel proud to see first-hand, how a regular person can create so much good and change their little part of the world.
I feel honored to count a lot of these people as my friends.
For me, this is the very definition of love. This is what it means to be human.
The best part is, this is not isolated to Cebu alone. You can see this throughout the country and even throughout the world. To everyone coming together to help the country rise once again… THANK YOU.