by jun asuncion
The devastation of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng to the Philippines was unprecedented in scale and magnitude. The whole world was witness to this natural catastrophe and the drama of the Filipino people as they fought to survive. Videos and photos uploaded in internet platforms are documents of our suffering: A whole family on a roof that has been violently carried away by the gush of the swollen river only to be smashed against the concrete support of the bridge and be drowned as others were helplessly watching; a woman and a child carried by the strong current crying out for help. We can only wonder what she said to her baby before they were swallowed down the depths of the river…
Now that the storm is over, the only thing left is to help those victims make their miserable destiny bearable to them- and to us. We know that catastrophes do not distinguish between rich and poor. The only difference is that the rich may recover materially much easier than the poor ones. The rich victims may already be under the shower and dressed with fine clothings dining in fine restaurants and sleeping in comfortable rooms in hotels or fine apartments provided by their rich friends. But where are the poor? They are still there with their poor companions, stuck in the muds among the debris and sleeping in evacuation centers- if these were quickly provided by the government. Otherwise they are still in the streets, wallowing in muddy waters, hopelessly lost, hungry and cold.
We may have been thousands of miles away from Ondoy and Pepeng, thousands of miles away from the deep waters of Marikina and from our drowning citizens. Yet their crying voices seemed to have been heard in the farthest reaches of the universe. It is painful for those who heard them, even to those who do not share the color of our skin.
These crying voices echoed also in the alps of Switzerland and in the noble streets of Zurich. The Swiss were quick to respond, the humanitarian tradition being firmly rooted in their heart and soul. A Swiss lawyer, Dr. Martin Kurer, chairman of the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce- Philippine Chapter and co-founder of the Taskforce Asia, quickly connected himself with two Filipino nurses here in Zurich, Franklin Patricio and Milagros Asuncion, who are both working in Hirslanden Clinic, to ask for their help on fundraising for our fellow Filipinos who are still stuck in the miry streets of Manila. Milagros Asuncion is a photographer of Bulan Observer. She also had a taste of flooding when Storm Dante battered Bulan last May. Now the engagement to flood victims continues even when far away from home.
In order to help raise funds, she endorsed SACC by way of offering her testimonial to the Taskforce Asia, appeared in the Caritas, a humanitarian organization with seat in Zürich, will be appearing on a radio interview and will be- together with Franklin- organizing a piano concert in Zürich. I am, on the other hand, just sitting quitely at the background with my laptop-, writing for some websites here and writing letters for donors. All for the benefits of our bedraggled homeless Ondoy victims in the Philippines.
The SACC Task Force Asia was set up by the Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland, H.E. M aria Theresa P. Lazaro, and Martin Kurer, Chairman of the SACC Philippine Chapter.
Here’s the Website of the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce with our two Filipino “ambassadors of goodwill” Mila and Franklin:
Milagros Asuncion, Nurse at Hirslanden Klinik in Zurich, Heart-Thorax Surgery Station.
“My name is Milagros Asuncion. I am a nurse at Hirslanden Klinik. For the past 28 years I have been working as a nurse in Switzerland. We have experienced very bad storms in the Philippines before, but this Ketsana, or Ondoy, is worse than anything I…( click here for more…)
Franklin Patricio, Nurse at Hirslanden Zürich, Heart-Thorax Surgery Station
“I am Franklin Patricio. I am working as a nurse in a hospital in Zurich. The Philippines are very much affected by the storm which has hit Metro Manila and Northern Luzon, as the fate of my sisters’ family shows. Please support the… (click here for more…)
Bulan Observer will be supporting more humanitarian projects of the Swiss-Asian Chamber Of Commerce in the future.
(Photos supplied by Swiss-Asian Chamber Of Commerce- with special thanks to Dr. Martin Kurer!)
But we are not destroyed (as published in Taskforceasia.ch)
by Maribel Oana, Zurich, Switzerland
I still have my family: my mother, a widow for 43 years, who has been blind for almost 15 years, and crippled- because of a car accident last 2005- but saved; with her is my youngest brother with his wife and their 3 children, they are the ones taking care of my mother. Venue: our two-floors Residential house in Vista Verde Executive Village in Cainta Rizal, one of the most devastated areas hit by Typhoon Ondoy.
This is their story, as related to me by my mother and my sister-in-law.
September 26, 2009, Saturday at about 8 o’clock in the morning; the water in the streets were we lived were already ankle high (our house is one meter elevated from that of the street). After less than 15 minutes, the water rose and have reached our main gate and Garage, so my brother told my mother that he will accompany her in going to the second floor because the water is rising fast. My mother didn’t took this seriously because she knew that it never flooded in our house even when our neighbor subdivisions are under water, ours never was.
My brother and his 2 sons started putting the appliances such as the Refrigerator, washing machine and electric cooking range on the dining table while my sister-in-law and her daughter brought some biscuits, rice, noodles and water upstairs and nothing else (they were caught unprepared for this situation). Another 15 minutes gone by, the water was already inside our house on the first floor and 1 inch below the knee. My brother hurried to my mother and let her stand on her feet to make her believe that the water is truly inside our house and she was very much frightened and shocked as she felt the water on her knees.
My brother carried my mother upstairs for there is no more time left because the water is rising up every minute. Then he and his sons took the light furniture upstairs as fast as they can and that within 5 minutes then after that is history: a huge amount of water flooded our first floor.
My brother was nearly drowned for he was caught unaware, because the appliances that were on top of the table fell on the water and bumped him, he was trap in the middle of the swimming appliances and the swimming piano, thanks God, his sons pulled him up.
Not long ago on the second floor, they heard voices from outside calling for help; they saw our neighbors swimming outside crying and shouting for help. Their houses (only one floor-Bungalow style) were under water with only the roofs seen. My family welcomed our neighbors
(2 families and the youngest was a 5-year old boy). Before 9 o’clock (within less than one hour), the whole place was flooded 2 meters high, and remained there 2 days and 2 nights, with no electricity, 3 liters of water and only biscuits to eat (for they cannot cook without electricity). We were able to communicate with them through cellphone on a limited basis, since cellphones need to be recharged, too.
We may not be with our family physically during this Ondoy Tragedy, but they were always in our prayers and we motivated and encouraged then to pray, too and continue to trust in God even this times of suffering, for we know that God is still in control! My eldest brother and his family, and my eldest sister’s family were saved, but we are still looking for our cousin living in Provident Village in Marikina who until now is missing. My mother is a prayerful woman and she told me this; “my child, we may be struck down, but we are not destroyed, Praise be the name of the Lord!
The Aftermath: as of now death toll is rising up, a lot of people is still missing and thousands of people are homeless and hungry. In behalf of my countrymen, I’m asking and pleading you to please help us in cash of any amount or in kind (any old clothes, old shoes, old linen)./