As a survivor of Typhoon Yolanda himself, our founder Troy Peden has been impacted in many ways by his experiences. Now relocated to Colorado with his family, we asked him “What have you learned from Typhoon Yolanda?” His initial response was:
I have learned so much but I am still sorting it out. The fact that every time I see Filipinos from Leyte the typhoon “experience” becomes the conversation within minutes is evidence that there is still much to be digested and sorted.
This is what Troy feels he has learned from experiencing the worst storm in history:Most People are GoodThere were so many examples of people acting generously. That generosity is still evident today as hundreds of international NGOs still reside in Tacloban. People are genuinely compassionate towards their fellow man. These stories are well documented including many people who could have easily left butstayed like Elsa Thomasma, Sophie Maucort, and Medical Missions who changed their itinerary from Chiapas to Leyte at the airport, and countless others.
Some People aren’t as Good but It’s OkayThere was widespread looting and other uglier incidents. I feel like many things people said and did during those first weeks after the storm were excusable because everything was unknown. Those who did things that were unforgivable were the exception. Looting to feed you kids was a fact of life, looting to steal a treadmill when your house was gone was comical. The media loves a looting story, the fact is tens of thousands of people survived after the typhoon because of relief goods, and more commonly from neighbors feeding neighbors and neighbors helping neighbors.
Filipinos are Resilient and the World Could and Should Learn From Them
Minutes after the storm smiling and joking men and women gathered the pieces of their homes and rebuilt them. They simply picked themselves up and started living again. There was no time for complaining for most. People were mad at the government, the ocean, global warming, but first and foremost they did what they had to do to survive. Most foreigners found the resilience and attitude of the survivors to be shocking. Filipinos have been dealing with smaller calamities for a long time and their survival has depended on their ability to pick themselves up.
Life is Short
Most of us have no idea when our time will come. On November 8, 2013 thousands of people had their last moments in this world. One of the first bodies that I came across in San Jose was a man, younger than me. There was something that struck me about this man he was wearing the clothes he had put on before the storm and his outfit seemed well thought out. In a hot tropical country he had a stocking cap and a light weight ski jacket. Underneath he had a sweater over a t-shirt. He must have been preparing for something. Maybe he wanted to stay warm in the horizontal rain, maybe he was wearing his best clothes in case he had to take flight? It just struck me as sad, this man’s body was lying there in the street, he didn’t know this would be his last day.
One of the Many Tent Cities Left After Yolanda
Life is Short so Forget the Drama
Remove the drama from your life. It is hard to do, but it is the best advice I have ever received and seems so much more pertinent now. It is easy to slip back into the negative but it is such a waste of time and energy.
Experiences are Better than ThingsLive to live for the present. The future is uncertain. The moments with my family are what I am working for. It hasn’t always been the case but I am much more willing to rearrange my schedule for my kids and spend more time on family instead of business.
Many victims of Yolanda are still facing the tragedy every day when they look at empty chairs or wake up in a tent. I am grateful everyday that my family is still with me but constantly reminding myself that not every one was so fortunate.
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