OPINION/PERSPECTIVE: Students share experiences of Typhoon Haiyan’s far-reaching effects

by Christian Lopez, Staff Writer

Chicagoans are fortunate enough that they have never had to experience the atrocities brought on by extreme natural disasters, like earthquakes and hurricanes. In early November, the people of the Philippines were struck by one of the most powerful typhoons on record. Thousands have been confirmed dead, with many more missing and over $1.5 billion of damage estimated, according to various news and government sources.

Though we all hope never to undergo such a tragic experience, some of our very own students have survived typhoons. Truman Student Marisa Seidman recalls the roaring winds, the flying debris and the massive amounts of flooding brought upon by typhoons. Growing up in the Philippines, Marisa says she experienced many typhoons. Some of the memories that stand out the most include the constant flash flooding and people’s tin roofs being blown off by the powerful winds. Though she was fortunate enough to live in a house strong enough to withstand the storms, it still experienced heavy damage every typhoon season.

Fortunately for Marisa, the rest of her family still living back in the Philippines went relatively unscathed during typhoon Haiyan, due to living in Manila, located in the northern part of the island chain. This meant that the typhoon had greatly weakened by the time it reached them, sparing them from the worst of the destruction.

Such circumstances also spared Cyul Sangil’s family (another one of our very own Truman students). Cyul experienced many of the same things as Marisa while living in the Philippines. She specifically recalls several typhoons per year, and though the worst she ever experienced was a Category 2 (Typhoon Haiyan was Category 5 for reference), they nonetheless remain a vivid memory. She remembers how her mother, an employee for the Department of Social Welfare, worked every day, even during times of disaster. Cyul believes this reflects a general Filipino attitude, which is to confront calamity with courage. Such an attitude is extremely important when confronting disaster, and Marisa also agrees with this. They both believe the Filipino people’s good humor, perseverance in times of adversity and an ability to see the silver lining even in the darkest of times have been crucial factors in the Philippines’ recovery.

External assistance is still an extremely important necessity, and luckily there has been an outpouring of help from all over the world. Many countries have pledged millions of dollars in assistance and reconstruction efforts for the Philippines, in which the US is playing a big part. Both Marisa and Cyul agree that the US has been a great boon for the Philippines throughout the decades whenever disaster strikes.

Since the Philippines is composed of a large collection of islands, aid becomes significantly harder to distribute since many areas are not yet fully developed. Help always finds a way, though. Cyul recalls many supplies being air-dropped via parachute whenever disaster struck, proving the US’s willingness to always lend a hand when times are tough. Overall, both Cyul and Marisa agree that Filipinos are very grateful to the US and the world in general for all the help they have received over the years.

Even here at Truman, efforts are underway to gather supplies to be sent to the Philippines, organized by Spanish professor Dianne Torres. Interested people can drop off supplies either at Prof. Torres’s office in room 2217 or in room 2100. Additionally, the Red Cross and multiple other international organizations are accepting donations in order to help relief efforts. Even if you can’t afford to donate or help, you can always help spread the word to others who can.

After all, when disaster strikes all we really have is each other as fellow human beings, so please lend a hand.

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