Sorry if I haven’t blogged in a while. We’ve just been so busy with the travel agency, and now, the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda/ Haiyan.
If you’ve been following my posts on Instagram, you probably know by now that my husband and I volunteer to take evacuees to their homes in Manila from Villamor Airbase where they land. You can volunteer, too, and you can sign up HERE. Be patient, though, as they keep on changing rules.
To be honest, since we came out on KRIS TV for our Travel Agency, we get flooded with inquiries every.single.day. This is good, actually, except that it barely leaves us time to do anything else. Not complaining, just stating a fact. Like I mentioned in the show, it’s just really me and my husband doing this, because we like keeping it personalized.
So anyway, we came out on KRIS TV last November 8, the day when super typhoon Yolanda struck. I remember the weekend that followed – we were trying our best to answer all inquiries that we barely had time to check the news. But to keep ourselves updated, I would check Facebook to see links of the latest news. That Sunday night, I told myself, “I know you’re busy and all, but I just can’t take it anymore. I have to do something SOON.” So my husband and I decided to slow down on the inquiries (sorry for those who inquired and haven’t received answers up to now!!!) and help out in the best way we can. When we found out about the OPLAN HATID program (where you take evacuees to their relatives here or at a shelter), we knew this was the kind of volunteer work we had to sign up for.
And so, for a few nights now, we’ve been taking home families, listening to their stories, and just extending our hand. Let me tell you in advanced – it’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s depressing to hear their stories of loss, and it makes you wonder how on earth they will get back up again. But you do what you can with what you have – and in our case, I’d like to think we offer them hope, and a little monetary blessing to help them get started (we are able to sustain our financial help through the help of generous donors from all over the world, thank you – you know who you guys are).
I am honestly tired and my hands are full with work, but there is one reason that inspires me to keep on helping.
In every single province I have stepped on (and this is some 70++ out of 81), never did anybody make me feel like I was not welcome. Strangers I met on the road always made sure to help me in some way.
In Bacolod, a young student accompanied us from the downtown jeep all the way to Silay to go around because we didn’t know how to commute, and he did not ask for a single cent.
In Samar, a group of employees gave us a free ride when they saw we’ve been waiting for hours and there’s not a single transportation in sight.
In Tacloban, our friend’s family (who we didn’t know then) welcomed us into their home and fed us when we couldn’t find a place to stay because it happened to be a festival.
In Antique, the jeepney driver brought us all the way to a stop he wasn’t supposed to make – without asking for extra pay.
In one of the Babuyan Islands, we lived at a family’s house (there are no inns/hotels there) and knowing they don’t have much, we made sure to bring enough food so we won’t have to eat theirs, and still, everyday, we would get a tub of bananas fresh from their “farm”.
In Davao Oriental and Basilan, my blogger friends I only know from the internet made sure their brothers were available to take us around.
These are just some of the many things I’ve been blessed to witness. People who travel with me know this for a fact: whenever I feel the need to pee, I just stop at a house, knock, and ask if I could use their restroom. Not once was I turned away.
All these good things I experience on the road are acts of kindness by strangers who don’t know me. They don’t have much, but yes, they still have a lot to give. This is why I love traveling around my country – I never feel like I’m alone. So when calamities like this happen (and even if there aren’t calamities), I always feel that the least I could do to make up for all the good things I receive is to pay it forward. This is our way of saying thank you to all the generous souls who helped us when we needed it most.