Habagat Heroes

"The Filipino spirit is waterproof."

When torrential rains began lashing the country on Tuesday and several areas were submerged in gigantic floods, this tagline spread around social networking sites like wildfire countering the devastation that was sweeping the nation.

There was no typhoon.  It was only the habagat or the southwest monsoon that brought us heavy rains for over a week but it was enough to cause Filipinos to fear that this might mirror Typhoon Ondoy, the most devastating typhoon to hit the country three years ago.  My friend, Madel, even commented that it was like 2009 all over again what with netizens setting aside senseless status updates and utilizing Twitter and Facebook to spread public service announcements, emergency hotlines, and calls for help.

But in the midst of all the devastation, stories of loss and desperation, emerged tales of courage, strength, and heroism.

It was like clockwork.

While people stranded at home helped in bridging help to the calamity victims via the internet, those who were mobile immediately took the streets helping people along the way.  The news was filled with stories of both rescuers and ordinary citizens risking their lives to save others.  Calls for volunteers were immediately heeded and citizens flocked to different relief operation centers.

"He who saves."  (Photo courtesy of Jen Lanuzga)

I remember posting a callout for volunteers on Twitter and Facebook and instantly (with the help of our reporter Francis Faulve, anchor Ces Drilon, and online magazine MadHouseMNL) getting responses.

When I got to the relief operation center of Sagip Kapamilya, the emergency humanitarian assistance program of ABS-CBN Foundation, I was awed by what I saw.

Men and women, both young and old, donating and repacking goods.  There were students, professionals, housewives, all helping in their own little ways.  Some have been there since morning.  Some, since the day before.

And while everybody was focused on their own tasks, the whole place was undeniably charged with high spirits telling you that, hey, everything's gonna be okay.

The Sagip Kapamilya relief operation center.

Repacked goods.
Sir Robert, the day's go-to person.
Spotted : Juliana Gomez.  Actors Richard and Lucy Gomez's daughter.
Hard at work.  (L) A volunteer wheeling in new donations; (R) Abby Olaco, my friend and officemate, repacking rice.

Busy bees.  (L) Gerome Vallangca, Segment producer; (R) Joseph Aquino, Executive Producer.

More goods coming in.

Tired but still smiling.  (L) Nadine Leoncio, Multi-Media Producer; (R) Michael Rolluque, Researcher.

This nation is far from perfect. God knows we have idiosyncrasies that make even the most patriotic Filipino sigh in frustration.  But I believe there is a strand of truth in that other tagline spreading around social networking sites--that where I come from, everybody is a hero.


  1. What I am most proud of are the rescuers. They have families too and they risk their lives to save others. And what makes me feel bad is that they are underpaid I'm sure. Here i go again with my Messianic complex, but it's the truth. What can we do for them???

  2. Wow! Nakakahanga. Saludo sa mga Pinoy na tumulong.

  3. your photos are amazing! it's wonderful to see all the good that comes out of such a frightening situation. the smiles at the end are "icing on the cake!" *hugs*

  4. Be proud to be one of these wonderful people. Luckily, you'd able to pull out ur camera and take pictures with these beautiful people. Lending hands to others! Helpful din naman talga ang social net though admittedly, sometimes, caused of false alarms because of irresponsibility to tweet, or retweet..

  5. I like your term "Waterproof" in describing the Filipinos Spirit! The cooperation of Filipinos are getting stronger especially when calamity and incidents attack us. Hope this kind of Bayanihan will last forever and will not forget by the next generation/

    Weather Philippines


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