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Witness to Courage

As we begin another week, I would like to pause and take this opportunity to pay tribute to our beleaguered countrymen whose lives had been gravely affected by the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the country last November 8.

CNN has put together a special documentary entitled, “CNN SPECIAL: WITNESS TO COURAGE.” The half hour documentary has been aired and replayed in Asia several times.  In the documentary, CNN correspondents who covered the typhoon and the aftermath of Haiyan relate their experiences, share their insights and pay tribute to the Filipinos’ courage and sense of humor, which they found extraordinary.

Recently, National Geographic published Ker Than’s article entitled, “Photojournalist Captures Resiliency in the Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan: David Guttenfelder documents hope and rebuilding after devastation.”

Upon arriving in Tacloban, Guttenfelder reported, “It’s just a complete wasteland. It looks like a nuclear bomb went off and flattened the place. Nobody has power. There were bodies everywhere when I got here—on the road from the airport into town, just body after body.”

Kher writes: Another major theme that’s arisen in Guttenfelder’s photographs is the resiliency and general good cheer of the Filipino people in the face of the disaster.

“It’s almost confusing because people are so good-natured here,” Guttenfelder said. “People laugh and are happy, even though their lives are just destroyed. They’ve built basketball hoops in rubble and play pickup games, and people watch and cheer.

“Filipino people have an incredible spirit and an incredible way of moving on. If it were any other place in the world, it would be so different.” 

When asked about the mood in the city a few days after the typhoon hit, Guttenfelder said, “You just can’t exaggerate the good-natured, positive spirit of the people in this country. At the very least, they’ve lost everything they own, and at the very worst, they’ve lost members of their family, but they’re still upbeat and positive.

“There was a protest march recently, but it wasn’t a protest against the government. It was a march to encourage everybody to be brave and to hang in there. They were carrying signs that said ‘we shall overcome.’

I saw a guy carrying his kids on his shoulders, and people were wearing wigs. They were just having a blast, even though it was raining and they were walking past bodies.”

For all that they have gone through and are experiencing now, I join my fellow Filipinos in bowing to the people of Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Panay, and Palawan for their courage, faith, patience,  and determination; and for continuing to show the world the indomitable Filipino spirit. You do us proud.

Photo courtesy of Rappler

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