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First Anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan and Make The Right Move for Climate Justice

November 8th, 2014 by Posted in Resilience

Snehal V. Soneji, Country Director, Oxfam in Bangladesh
Email: Ssoneji@oxfam.org.uk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the Philippines. I have lived in Manila for 4 years – till May 2013, and have made many friends there. It was exactly one year ago, on 8 Nov 13 a Friday I still remember, that the largest typhoon Yolanda (International name Haiyan) ever to make landfall bore down on the Philippines.

Having worked with Oxfam there, I have been part of many typhoon responses and am fully familiar with the pattern of news about damage filtering in. Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) was no different. I remember constantly refreshing the hashtag #Philippines and #YolandaPH on Twitter through the day and also remembered how every time I refreshed the screen, the devastation that it had caused became more and more apparent. Over the next few days, all news channels were carrying reports and visuals of the affected areas. Memories of the areas I had worked in on the island of Mindanao in Dec 2012 responding to Typhoon Pablo (International name Bopha) flooded back. I had seen that typhoon Bopha had uprooted almost all vegetation including coconut & banana trees which formed a major source of livelihood for people in that region. Houses were flattened and there was just destruction wherever you looked. Clearly the TV reports showed that the destruction caused by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) was much worse than anything I had seen or experienced.

At the same time, what for me was the defining theme throughout the coverage of death and destruction emanating from the affected area was the omnipresent message of hope shining through the cheerful and positive nature of the Filipinos I knew so well and had come to love! There were communities rebuilding lives and livelihoods, organisations, local and international, working together to support the communities in partnership with government officials in the rebuilding process. I had many friends and ex colleagues who were directly and deeply involved in it. The filipino spirit of bayanihan (loosely translated as communal unity and cooperation) very much at the centre of all the action.

I am sure there were many challenges and shortcomings in the work that was done. I know that many people are still displaced and there are many reports that the NGOs, INGOs and donors have prepared, documenting all that could have been done better, delivered quicker and coordinated better. However today, on the 1st anniversary of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), that is not what I want to remember and recollect. Instead I want to end with a line from the national anthem of the Philippines from the first time I heard it about 6 years back.

Lupang Hinirang,

Duyan ka ng magiting,

Sa manlulupig,

Di ka pasisiil.

Which translated into English means (source Wikipedia)

Chosen Land,
Cradle of the valiant,
To invaders,
You shall never be subjected.

No typhoon can subject the fiipino spirit and Filipino people. They will always rise & shine & smile!

P.S. A briefing paper “In The Shadow of The Storm: Getting Recovery right one year after typhoon Haiyancame out on the eve of the anniversary. Oxfam has also launched a global campaign focused on Climate Change Adaptation – Disaster Risk Reduction (CCA-DRR), called #MakeTheRightMove

I dare governments to #MakeTheRightMove for climate justice” by uploading my selfie here, oxfamphototool.org Are you joining me?

  1. One Response to “First Anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan and Make The Right Move for Climate Justice”

  2. By Maylyn on Nov 11, 2014

    Thank you Snehal for the kind words about the resiliency of the Filipinos and our ability to smile during difficult situations.

    I am fortunate to have known you and work with you even in just few months.

    More power to you and your team. Regards also to my friend Hassan.



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