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victims of ondoy and pepeng still on my mind



the outpour of support for relief efforts has been inspiring the past few weeks. it is in this time of calamity that the true bayanihan spirit of our people shine through. i’m both deeply proud and humbled by the community i am a part of.

as a migrant, it’s really hard to be away from my homeland, especially at times like this. i wish so hard that i could run back home and help; to struggle through these tough times with my people; to share in their burden, if it means it would lighten the load for another.

we must understand the implications of this calamity. a country is rendered poor and vulnerable when the government prioritizes building golf courses, malls, and tourist locations instead of homes, adequate roads, and stable infrastructures. it is the people who are left to suffer when the president takes P800 million from the calamity fund to spend on foreign trips (where during one of which, an extra $35,000 was spent on high class dinners). it is the sick, the elderly, and children whose bodies will get swept away by a flood because their community of scrap metal homes, cardboard floors, and garbage furniture are assembled next to a swelling toxic river to make room for multinational corporations and their sweatshops; or when a multinational corporation decides to release a detrimental amount of water on surrounding communities simultaneous to a heavy storm. the slap in the face is when the customs bureau taxes and withholds relief donations that attempt to provide what the government has always refused to give.

when a government conspires to kill its people, it does not take much rain to make it happen.

photo courtesy of Anna Aniag

photo courtesy of Anna Aniag

at the filipino community center in san francisco, 30+ balikbayan boxes filled with donations from concerned kababayans continue to sit in wait, because while an overwhelming amount of filipino-americans support grass roots relief efforts due to strong distrust of the greedy corrupt malicious unreliable philippine government, GMA responds by attempting to corral all donations and force it through her government agencies. monetary donators should also be weary of an automatic “donor tax” off the top of your donation when you attempt to wire transfer your money to the philippines, if it’s not going directly into the hands of the government.

it has always been, and will continue to be, up to us to uplift our country. if we truly want to save our people from a disaster, then we must fight against the very system that created these conditions. beyond donations, we need to support real grass roots/peoples efforts to organize communities for social reforms, real representation in government, and a nation empowered to uplift itself. it is this thought that comforts me while i am thousands of miles away from my homeland, and it is this purpose that must drive us in arousing, organizing, and mobilizing our communities.

a calamity is natural,  this government is the disaster.

and to share: a beautiful song by Ang Grupong Pendong, that seems so fitting at this time.

“Bagyo Bagyo” / Storm Storm

bagyo bagyo anurin mo ang dungis ng katilingban / storm storm wash away with your streamm, the dirt
sa bayan tila nagmamaliw / that has kept the country in mourning
bawiin ang uhaw ng mga tigang na damdamin / quench the thirst of those with hardened feelings
hugasan ang poot ng mga pusong nangingitim / wash the hatred off the blackened hearts

bagyo bagyo ikalat mo ang kwento ng pagibig / storm storm spread the story of love
ang tula na di na madinig / the poem that has long been heard
isipol ang awit kasabay ng iyong pagdilig / whistle the song as you shower
sa lupang kay tagal na naghihintay sa pagsapit ng tag ulan / the land that’s waited so long for the rain

bagyo bagyo sabihin mo / storm storm tell me
kailan nga ba darating / when will it arrive,
and pagsikat ng araw ng simula / the rise of a new beginning
sariwang hangin na mapayapa / fresh air that brings serenity

bagyo bagyo wasakin mo pagkakahati hati / storm storm tear down the divisions
ng mga tao sa bayan ko / of the people of my country
ibuhos ang galit at baka sakaling mayanig / pour the anger and maybe it will awaken
ang kawalang damdamin ng mayroon narinig / those who have ignored others’ cry for help

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