How do you survive a super typhoon with the destructive force of an atomic bomb? How did the people of Tacloban City, who survived the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), cope in the aftermath of a storm for the ages? What was it like on the ground for aid workers in the city, weeks and months later?
More than two years after the strongest recorded typhoon on Earth claimed the lives of at least 6,300 in Tacloban and elsewhere in the Philippines, William Rodney “Bill” Shaw attempts to answer these questions – and some of his own – from the perspective of those who lived through its horrors in the new book “Yolanda: The Roaring, The Waves, The Waiting”.
Self-published by Shaw and printed in the Philippines, the book is based on the experiences of seven individuals living in Tacloban before, during and after Yolanda. Their stories are retold and mixed with the American’s own insights as an aid worker who volunteered in Tacloban for four months, distributing food, relief packs, and building homes for the city’s survivors.
“These seven lives represent a complicated intersection — of understanding and misunderstanding, freedom and captivity, personal faith and cultural beliefs,” Shaw says in a note on the book’s back cover. “We can find heroes in these pages, but no winners. Yolanda underscores the face of catastrophe, where everyone suffers and everyone struggles to overcome.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Shaw and his wife Deborah — a photographer who took the images found in the “Yolanda” book — first came to the Philippines in 2002 with Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL Philippines). Bill also worked as an administrator at Faith Academy in Cainta, Rizal until 2004.
With Filipino friends, the Shaws also founded Urban Opportunities for Change Foundation Inc., which published “The Jeepney” street magazine in the Philippines in 2008. It followed the concept of “street papers” that provide employment for the homeless and indigent in First World countries.
Urban was also responsible for forming and sending football teams to represent the Philippines to the Homeless World Cup, which uses “the beautiful game” to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Over 70 countries participate in this annual tournament.
Bill and Debbi currently live and work in Traverse City, Michigan. Bill sits on the Board of Speak Up Magazine, Inc., and Speak Up Michigan, Inc., both non-profits giving jobs and a voice to people experiencing homelessness in Michigan and North Carolina. They also manage a series of rental properties and occasionally take on electrical contracting projects.
ABOUT THE BOOK
“Yolanda: The Roaring, The Waves, The Waiting” (224 pages, self-published by William Shaw through Urban Opportunities for Change LLC) is available in the Philippines for Php 500.
Please send orders to Kids International Ministries (KIM), c/o New Faith Family Children’s Home Foundation, #3 Birds of Paradise, Valley Golf Road, Cainta, Rizal, Philippines 1900. You may also call KIM at +632 658 4820.
Eighty percent (80%) of the proceeds of the book will go to KIM’s disaster relief efforts in Tacloban City.
“Yolanda: The Roaring, The Waves, The Waiting” will be launched today February 18, 2016 (Thursday) at the Nuvo bar in Greenbelt 2 in Makati City from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m.
It will also be launched in Tacloban City on February 20, 2016 (Saturday) at the “Lighthouse”, Lot# 36708, near Payapay Bridge, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm.
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT: Jimbo Gulle, phones (0917) 775-1479 or (0919) 999-5166; email: jimbo dot gulle at gmail dot com
Women who try so hard to earn their place through showing loyalty and working for free… Oftentimes, having to return sexual favors, co-habit or earn a man’s trust before he will actually marry her. Or sometimes, in the work place, to render more hours or wear numerous hats just because she can…
As a woman, one can bring so much to the table: the strength of her feminity, interpersonal skills and eye for detail are just some of what she can contribute, an educated and enterprising woman, more so! The skill set, years of experience and the value of their network is something most women take for granted.
I would have to agree to some some associates who brazenly stated: “Why pay for the cow if I get the milk for free?”
Harsh, yes. But there is truth to that statement.
Women get to be marginalized, their values compromised because they conciously choose to. They let these things happen because inately are desperate for approval, friendship, commitment, loyalty, and yes, the all enduring word…love.
There is this agony to make a significance in her work, the life of her partner, children… so that in the end, she won’t be shelved/discarded/abandoned because her worth and value have been proven, established…
All at a painful price: Her youth, her beauty, her years, her life. She is destined to live her life centered around her partner, her children, her work…because without them, she’s non-existent. Worthless. Invisible.
Notice that there are more and more women who find holding the “Busy badge” as some sort of trophy, or in this case, validation for saying: “I’m such a busy wife/mother/professional/business owner/etc… all of this, is all me. Finally, I am worth while.”
Busy doesn’t necessarily equate to productive nor significant.
“Busy” also begs the question: Where do you find your worth? Do you find your self-worth in the temporary? You can be doing multiple things all at the same time, you can be productive, sure. Hats off to you. But what if all of these are gone? What if you lost your work, heaven forbid, your spouse, children, family? What would you have as a woman? When all of these things gone, does your identity go with it?
Nothing is farther from the truth.
A woman doesn’t have to compromise who she is. She doesn’t have to replace her identity with the identity of her profession or relationships. She doesn’t have to “strive”. A woman was created by our Loving Father to “just be”. His grand design is for her to be the “crown”. Woman is His beauty incarnate. Diamonds need not force its beauty to someone who can’t see it.
The same principle applies to male-female relationships. A good man would be the one to do the pursuing. Allow him to ‘man up’ to the role. Just be. Unfortunately today, that role is reversed at very unhealthy consequences.
He will compromise your values, use you sexually/physically, emotionally/psychologically, (even financially…lucky guy!) and, as an afterthought, would probably marry you because, like a good girl, you’ve “earned it” (and besides, he needs someone who can look after him/his business/his children/his interests, his, his, his, his…etc. long after he’s gone. You’ve done it for free from the beginning, why should he start paying now? Insert cow reference here.)
The woman was his investment. He knows this. She just didn’t get full price for her “investment value”.
Can he be blamed? Not at all. Everything boils down to the woman.
In this world, a woman needs to earn her place, may it be a corporate title, or a place in a relationship. And even if she earned it, she still has to constantly prove she’s worth all that she’s striven for. She isn’t supposed to be pursued. She is commodity. Replaceable. Disposable.
Judging people by physical appearances distracts us from serious issues. As one politician put it, physical appearances can be used as a sign of solidarity with those who share it. By ridiculing politicians for their physical appearance, we elevate them to a moral high ground, even as physical similarities can mask glaring differences between politicians and their constituents. Finally, and more importantly, this kind of “bullying” reinforces a culture that overvalues physical appearance.1
With the 2016 elections less than a year from now, we need to desist from attacks on the physical appearance of politicians. Journalists in particular should be mindful of their power to dignify certain discourses. We cannot be distracted from the more relevant parameters with which to hold politicians to account. We cannot gift them with ‘persecution’ that gives them a moral high ground while it conceals and absolves their moral and legal failings. More importantly, by casting politicians physical features in a negative light, we are perpetuating a culture that over values physical appearance, upholds certain standards of beauty and renders harm to our countrymen who share these features. Indeed, if we are to elevate Philippine politics to a certain measure of dignity, if we are to make people proud and respectful of the ways people look, we must spare the physical appearance of our politicians from ridicule and verbal abuse.1
**Though the piece above is angled on Philippine politics, the typical Filipino’s tendency to judge people by physical appearances goes beyond our politicians. Our intolerance for those who don’t share the same physical qualities (skin color, height, etc.) are monstrously contributory to our stunted growth as a nation. If we want to be more and do more for this country, its high time to put an end to these destructive prejudices.
On culture: I cannot celebrate independence when I can be so casually told in public that I am less of a Filipino or a person solely because my grandparents were (Chinese) immigrants. Do we subconsciously insist on defining patriotism as an accident of birth instead of a lifetime’s conviction? How can we continually decry mistreatment of Filipinos overseas yet tolerate such vitriol at home?2
**If we want our OFWs to be treated well abroad, don’t you think it’s only fair for us Filipinos to treat expats and Chinese immigrants with the same decency and respect we ardently expect? I would like to live in a country where everyone is welcome. Where there is a sense of community and where an expat can call my country his home. Families, economies and countries thrive because its foreigners (as well as its residents) are able to work together and make their country of residence more prosperous since they first arrived.
On social status:
I’ve also been quite vocal about this with friends: You’re poor? I don’t take it against you You’re rich? I don’t take it against you either. Bottom line, does it really matter? In the grander scheme of things, it’s the heart of the person that counts.
Too idealistic? Not at all. On the contrary, a realist clearly sees what needs to be improved in order to make communication lines easier and effortless, thus laying the ground work for straightforward and uncomplicated relationships (business or otherwise) for us to live better and to a greater degree, thrive.
For quite sometime now, I’ve been practicing going beyond what my eyes can see, and rigidly looking at the character of the person. So far, this methodology of making friends has opened doors for me that I couldn’t have possibly imagined.
I encourage you to be more accepting/tolerant/forgiving of people’s differences, may they be physical appearances, race, culture, religion, social background, etc. In the digital age, the world has become smaller and our neighbors more accessible than ever. As a nation, we have more to gain if we embrace, rather than shun, this reality. There is strength in diversity, if only the Filipino can look beyond himself.
“I can imagine nothing more terrifying than an eternity filled with men who were all the same. The only thing which has made life bearable…has been the diversity of creatures on the surface of the globe.”
― T.H. White
1 Philippine Daily Inquirer. ‘The politics of physical appearance’. Gideon Lasco, June 15 2015.
2 Philippine Daily Inquirer, Opinion. Sisyphus’ Lament, ‘Anti-Chinese-Filipino slurs are visible’. Oscar Franklin Tan. @oscarfbtan
Have you watched the movie “Noah”? I strongly suggest you do. Though I do have my reservations about the accuracy of the characters called the “Watchers”, over all, the film was well done. Personally, the most outstanding performance in the film was Logan Lerman. As young as he is, Logan brought so much grit and authenticity to his tortured character. He is definitely someone to watch out for in future films. Given a saner schedule, I would definitely watch this movie again.
I requested a friend to do a review of the film, and she has done a fantastic job! I do hope that the film blesses you as much as it has blessed me.
Favorite Quotes: Methuselah: He speaks to you. You must trust that He speaks in a way that you only can understand.
Tubal Cain: You stand alone and defy me?
Noah: I’m not alone.
(MAJOR SPOILER ALERT)
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7)
Everybody knows the biblical story of Noah and his ark: After the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, the land increasingly became barren along with man’s wickedness. God wants to erase everything He has made – mankind and all the animals—and make a new earth. Good thing Noah found favour in God. So God gives him the task of making an ark and saving a pair of each animal on earth, together with his family. After a hundred years of endlessly working on the ark, the flood comes and everything is swept away. Noah starts mankind’s history anew.
Darren Aronofsky, the director of Noah¸ has successfully shown this in a highly-animated film and more. Russell Crowe (The Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) plays the rough and persevering Noah. In a land where food is scarce and one has to constantly guard against scavengers, he is still able to come across as a warm father-figure who is brave enough to fight in a hand-to-hand combat to save his family. Jennifer Connelly (Blood Diamond, Hulk) brilliantly portrays Noah’s wife Naameh, who resiliently stands by her husband whatever the cost of his decisions. Ray Winstone (The Departed, Hugo) is terrifying as Tubal-cain, the self-proclaimed king of man who stops at nothing just to get into Noah’s boat and be saved. Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) is also in this film, though a little bit unrecognizable, and surprisingly charming in the lovable character of Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather. One of the highlights of the film is Emma Watson (Harry Potter series), who, despite living in a wasted land, still looks pretty and dainty as ever, playing Ila, the wife of Noah’s first son, Shem.
Russell Crow depicted a very human portrayal of Noah. He is tough because he is hardened by living in an empty and dangerous land. But despite all the cruelty of the world, he is still able to appreciate the beauty that is left: a flower blooming should be left where it is because it is its place; a wounded animal should be treated and not be feasted on; and respect for man even if they are wicked inside and out. But high acting praises for this film goes to Jennifer Connelly, who is deeply moving as Noah’s wife. She understands that she has to be submissive to her husband, but she knows how and when to speak her mind. (Spoiler alert) When she learns that Noah has to kill Ila’s child, she spoke against it and confesses to Noah that it is her who asked for the children. “It was me, Noah! I asked for this!” she cries. She then proceeds to give Noah an ultimatum—she will leave Noah, regardless of whether the child is a boy or a girl. Her intensity truly radiates beyond the screen.
An Impressive Ark
This film undoubtedly uses a number of special effects: from the cartoonish way of telling the Adam and Eve story to the physical manifestations of Noah’s dreams. This approach is very effective in getting the message across, though somewhat a little bit base for a serious movie-goer. Setting all the animated effects aside, the rest of the technicalities of the film are amazing. The land is as inhospitable as how one would imagine the ends of the earth. The ark, shaped like a chest (because it’s Latin origin literally means “chest), is the most realistic ark ever. It is humongous and built only for two functions: to save the family and animals, and… to float.
Some audience are showing concern that the film is “very unbiblical”. This could be discussed because some points of the film indeed are not mentioned in the bible. One of these is the fallen angels or The Watchers. According to Aronofsky, the Watchers’ design is inspired by three images: six-winged Seraphim angels, a seagull trapped in oil, and ballet dancers with blocks attached to their feet. Afronofsky continues on to say that “these are angelic forms captured, malformed, imprisoned by the earth; winged creatures who got encased and had to use their wings as arms and legs.” Source: (IMDB) There is no verse in the bible indicating that the angels had helped Noah build the ark. Perhaps, if angels did help, it wouldn’t have taken Noah 100 years to finish it?
A friend also raised the fact that since Ila had twin daughters and Noah’s two youngest sons are still unmarried, it could be speculated that these two couples might end up together to start the new generation of mankind. The friend expressed disapproval for this scenario and described it as “icky”. Well, if you think about it, mankind did start with Adam and Eve. Of course, mankind had to continue on from their children, and their children… and their children. Do you get the drift?
Noah is certainly not a religious movie—with all the added elements of The Watchers and Ila’s twin girls—but it is a Christian film. This is to say that the film heaved a number of Christian issues taught in services and sermons today. Here are some of the issues raised:
1. God will speak to you in ways you will understand. When Noah seek the counsel of Methuselah regarding his visions, the old man assured his grandson that the Creator only speaks to them in ways they will understand. Pastors often advise Christians to ask God to speak to them—and He does. Of course, God will make sure that He gets the message across. “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13)
2. Deciding on things without the counsel of God will always have lifelong consequences. Naameh asked Methuselah for help because she wanted her children to have their own wives and children. She did this without asking counsel from the Creator, or from Noah. Methuselah decided to touch Ila’s barren womb and made it fertile. Because of this, her babies became the bane of Noah’s mission – which is to end the course of mankind on earth. He is made to decide to kill these babies – a great consequence of Naameh’s plea to Methuselah. We must always remember to ask counsel from God for everything we do because “he who trusts in his own heart is a fool”. (Proverbs 28:26) Remember that “Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.” (Proverbs 13: 10)
3. When you ask God to put His desire in your heart instead of your own, you will receive it. Noah is ready to drive the knife into the baby’s heart. He is driven by his mission from the Creator. I am sure that he has prayed about this endlessly, being a friend of God. He has already uttered the words, “It is done”—pertaining to the Creator’s mission for him. But something in him stirs. His heart is wary because his desire has changed. Though he wants to fulfil God’s mission for him, something else has replaced this in his heart. It is God’s mercy—because he has prayed about this. “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:27) Christians must also bear in mind that “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:2-3)
Aronofsky ‘s interpretation of Noah’s narrative is riveting and dramatic. It shows the human surface of Noah – he could hear the screams of people drowning outside the ark but he knew he had to remain steadfast to what the Creator had asked him to do. You could imagine the pain in his heart for every cry for help he had to endure. His character is in pain and sometimes anxious – which makes him relatable. Good job on that, Aronofsky. Though the idea of The Watchers is still far from convincing, Jennifer Connelly’s acting could make up for that. Reactions are mixed for the movie Noah, but nevertheless, it is a movie worth taking the time for.
About the Contributor: Jihan Estrella is brainstormer for soap programs at GMA Network, Inc. She is currently involved in the primetime shows “My Destiny” and “My BFF”. She is also a social media operations analyst for a Singaporean social media services company.