Every 2nd of November, Filipinos troop to the cemeteries to honor their dearly departed. Flowers are laid on the graves, candles lit and vigils are held. It is ingrained the Filipino culture that we never forget those loved ones who came before us.
This year's All Souls Day will be extremely difficult for those who lost their loved ones in the storm that devastated central Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as "Typhoon Yolanda") was the strongest typhoon ever recorded to hit land. The death toll was 6,300. More than 1,000 people are still missing and hundred of thousands of families left homeless.
While Typhoon Haiyan was wrecking havoc in Central Philippines, I was in a mess because I had to take my husband to the emergency room of The Medical City hospital. He suffered a hip fracture and had to undergo hip replacement. While I was worried about my husband's surgery, I was also worried about what was happening in Tacloban and Samar, the two provinces that were badly battered by the storm.
My husband's friend lived in Tacloban with his wife. They had a farm and a nice house and was living an idyllic life - until the storm took away everything they had. My husband's friend said that he practically held on tight to a beam fearing for his life. Him and his wife survived and have started their life over in the United States. Here are pictures of their house before and after the storm.
In preparation for All Souls Day in Tacloban, their Mayor had unnamed crosses planted on a mass grave site so that the survivors had somewhere to place flowers and light candles. It is so disheartening to have the survivors "pick a cross" and write the name of their departed relatives on it, even if they are not even sure if their relative is indeed buried in that mass grave.
|Photo by Franz Lopez/Rappler in an article by Paterno Esmaquel II|
A year has passed and efforts to provide appropriate housing and livelihood to the victims are still in processes. Our wish is for a faster processes - get the people out of their temporary shelters into sturdier homes. Christmas is coming soon. Think of the children who will be missing their parents, and parents who have lost a child.
For us who were lucky to have been spared this tragedy, please continue to support the rebuilding efforts in anyway we can. Your spare change can go a long way. We can join donation drives and other humanitarian efforts to help our brothers who are living in despair.
Typhoon Haiyan 2013 Victims ~ You are not only remembered, YOU ARE NEVER FORGOTTEN.