Just so people know where I am coming from when I say stop bashing. Stop bashing politicians and stop bashing Yolanda victims who have resorted to looting days after they lost their homes and members of their family.

My family, along with thousands of other residents of Mactan Island, Cebu, was a victim of Super typhoon Ruping in 1990. Although not as woefully destructive as Yolanda, Ruping left our house and several others roofless, and leaning like the tower of Pisa. It cut our island off from the mainland of Cebu when the oil freighter Sanko Elegance rammed the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge at the height of the storm.

The devastation left the island with no electricity, no market goods and practically almost no food for at least two weeks. Response from the capital, under Cory Aquino, was slow, even non-existent, in the first few days.

But it turned out we didn’t have to look too far for help. days after the last winds died, social workers began going around surveying the damage, getting head counts of families on the island. They gave us claim stubs, one for every five family members, telling us to be at the Sangi Barangay Hall the next day.

So YES, I have stood in the relief lines with my eldest son, then seven years old. Yes, I knew what it was like to worry if I was going to have something to feed him that day.

And if it weren’t for the Chinese businessmen from both the mainland and those who had bodegas in the island, and a few Cebuano politicians who decided they were Cebuanos first and politicians later, there would not have been any relief goods, and the distribution would not have been as orderly and as regular.

The trucks that came with our bags of rice and sardines and noodles did not come festooned with politicians faces. They were red and had Chinese characters in gold and white painted on the wooden sides. They acted soon enough, so we, thank goodness, did not become desperate enough to resort to looting.

So. Unless you have stood in that same line sometime in your life, you won’t know. You won’t even know why looters took umbrellas as well. You sneer at them saying why they need umbrellas? Didn’t you see their houses were gone along with their roofs? Nasubukan mo na bang pumila for relief goods sa ilalim ng init ng araw, ng mahigit ilang oras, bitbit ang anak mong maliit? No? Then SHUT THE FUCK UP.

You see a politician’s face or seal stamped onto a relief bag and you start to rant and boo? I’m telling you, if I had received such a bag from those trucks I would have thanked the person who handed it to me, because it was from his hands that I received it. Yes, I would have cooked the rice and yes I would have felt grateful for having something to feed my son.

Stop the bashing. Start helping. You already have? Then help some more.

(The following video was posted on http://verafiles.org/like-a-post-apocalyptic-hollywood-movie/. Photos by Luis Liwanag.)

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