Time to change our lives

the_subtle_yarn_of_hope___by_m0thyykuphoto courtesy of *mothyyku

“Life is not about looking good or pleasing people.”

– Jim Paredes (Probe Profiles featured him tonight. He is simply an amazing artist. He’s another reason for us to be proud to be Filipino.)

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

-A. Einstein

Our lovely planet earth has been frighteningly destructive lately, showing once again how vulnerable humans can be to the powerful elements of nature. Typhoon Ondoy has taken the lives of hundreds of people displaced hundreds of thousands of others in Metro Manila. A few days later, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia , destroying infrastructure and leaving thousands of people trapped in rubble. American Samoa and Samoa (I bet a few of us has even heard of these islands before) has also been struck by a tsunami, killing so many people and wiping out whole villages. I am holding my breath as I type this.

It was my first time to wade into knee-deep (sometimes deeper) floods that tragic Saturday. For a moment, I didn’t think of anything but to get to the LRT Station and to get home safely with my dad, who fetched me from Ateneo after my Accounting class that was cut short. Even though the rains were pouring endlessly since the night before, I didn’t expect to see the whole Katipunan Avenue to be flooded, devoid of vehicles, with the gray skies a haunting us from above. Little did I know that this was nothing compared to what is happening to other areas. When my dad and I eventually arrived in the office, we were both soaking wet from head to toe, a clumsy me ending up with a scratched knee and a laptop drenched in floodwater.

In contrast to what other people are going through, I am thankful I got to walk in floods sprinkled with trash and debris (with the occasional cockroach), to be able to sleep on the dirty carpeted floor in the office. A wave of excitement and gratitude fell upon me as we walked again in knee-high floods just to get home the following morning. I thank God for giving me this opportunity to experience a natural calamity firsthand. Staying at home, not being able to know how the endless pouring rains fell on my skin would be a great loss for me.

In a time of calamity, of loss and of people needing help, keeping my QPI up, salvaging a wet Macbook, struggling keeping in touch with friends, are worries that suddenly seem so mundane. Everything could be wiped out in a blink of an eye whether we’re looking or not. I suddenly feel the need to detach myself from all my worldly possessions, to embark on a quest to live simply, to discover the hidden beauty in muddied streets and in a little girl’s hopeful eyes as she looks down from her rooftop, holding on to dear life, to reflect more about what really is important in this world, as were are all but specks in a boundless universe.

The sheer number of people willing to volunteer in relief efforts for typhoon Ondoy is overwhelming, with many comprised of the youth. Through Tweets from Filipinos constantly updating the happenings in relief operations, videos posted on Facebook of volunteers, of stories posted on blogs and in the papers, I could not describe the feelings rushing through me as I witness the greatest values of our humanity that is clearly seen everywhere.

Simplicity. Gratitude. Compassion. The bayanihan spirit of Filipinos.

I see these moments of need and despair as our chance to realign our priorities, to do what is needed to be done,  to take away all the other unnecessary things (Do I really need that extra bar of chocolate?), to think about the world in the larger scale of things: Just how hard can this be, given that other people have accomplished more difficult, impossible tasks and goals before me? How significant are my problems compared to the problems other people are currently facing?

I am extremely frustrated that I have not yet volunteered anywhere. I still respect my parents’ decision though. I know can still help in my own ways. Aside from gathering clothes, slippers and pillows from the attic, I am currently organizing a fund-raising drive in my subdivision. I hope and pray that this would be a success. This is the first time I am going to do this.

There is a quote from a card I keep in my wallet by American educator, orator, author Booker T. Washington, who once said,

Decide to be your best. In the long run the world is going to want and have the best, and that might as well be you.

Imagine if all of us decided to be our best. Then the world would definitely be a better place to live in, wouldn’t it?

To Filipinos out there, go out and do your part. Volunteer. Donate some clothes, books, food, or whatever you can give. Even that box of cookies would make a child smile, and sets you free of some unwanted calories. Those textbooks that are gathering dust in your shelves could be used by a student out there. Little acts of kindness do not go unnoticed. Rebuilding our community together, becoming aware of the needs of other people, is the only way our nation and for all of our lives to get back on track.

I am writing for the victims of the floods, for the people trapped in rubble, for the people starving, for the people struggling so hard just to be able to live. I am writing for our humanity. I am writing for our slowly deteriorating planet. I am writing for the time that has lost by being complacent, by being mediocre, by staying silent. I am writing because at the moment this is the most productive thing I can do. I am writing because I can.

*Sighs* I know I love to write. I just hope writing about things will take me somewhere. Likewise, I hope what I write will be able to touch someone’s life, somewhere.

Have faith, have faith, have faith.

It’s time to act now. It’s time to change our lives.

If you want to know how/where to help Typhoon Ondoy victims, visit this site: http://sites.google.com/site/ondoymanila/home