Today, I thought mostly about Christmas. It is after all, the favorite holiday of Filipinos. During class, I made mental notes of who I was going to give gifts to. During lunch, my friends and I drew lots for Kris Kringle and planned this years’ Christmas party. After class, I dropped by a bazaar to look for prospective gifts to give.
When I got home however, I suddenly realized that at those moments when all I could think about was the good times and the gifts I was anticipating this Christmas, someone in Compostela Valley was lamenting the loss of his entire family. And at those moments when I made a mental wish list of the things I wanted to receive this year, someone had just lost their homes and all their belongings. While I planned all those Christmas dinners, there were 254 people missing, their loved ones hoping that they are not among those claimed by the typhoon “Pablo” (Bopha).
Earlier this year, we faced the strong rains brought about by the monsoons. Metro Manila was flooded and some provinces were in a state of calamity, reminiscent of typhoon Ondoy back in 2009. During those instances, I had felt it and I saw the flooded streets and evacuations – I was scared. I remember people talking about it, even weeks after, and people constantly posting about it on Facebook. Why was it not the same this time around even with a reported 142 people dead? Was it because this time around I didn’t feel it since it didn’t hit Metro Manila, but instead happened miles and miles away from me? Was it because no one I knew immediately was directly affected? Was it because no one had the tangible evidence to really comprehend or empathize with those affected?
Even if it happened miles and miles away, even if I did not feel it or see it first hand, it does not mean that it does not directly concern me. There are people who have lost their homes, their livelihood, and their loved ones. There are people out there who feel scared and hopeless, and they are my fellow Filipinos.
This Christmas, beyond the gifts, decors, and dinners, I challenge the AIT students, admin and staff to look beyond our own personal happiness and think of those whose lives have changed forever in what we dub as the Filipinos’ favorite time of the year. And as we prepare to receive more blessings this holiday season, may we share them with those who have lost everything.
I challenge the AIT community to not be apathetic. I challenge the AIT community to look through their belongings, and let go of the excesses and help give a child in Davao hope this Christmas. I challenge the AIT community to pledge a portion of their allowance to help our fellow Filipinos who have lost everything, and remind them why Christmas is the Filipinos’ favorite time of the year. –Nadine Gutierrez
Note: Salimbay will be setting up boxes in AIT for your donations until next week. For more information regarding pledges and donations, please contact Nadine Gutierrez at 0917-857-1524 or email firstname.lastname@example.org