09/30/09. This was the day that Kate and I set aside to help out the typhoon victims in our own little way.
We had already decided on a place to offer our services to: Whitespace over at Pasong Tamo Extension in Makati. Armed with a meager budget, Kate and I met up early in the afternoon to grocery shop. It's good to note that noodle and canned good racks were most nearly empty; it hopefully means that what was in the racks were already donated. With our car filled with loot a couple hours and some bargains later, we happily made our way to Makati.
Finding the relief center was easy enough, as it was next to landmarks that were impossible to miss. Right as I was about to enter the gates of Whitespace, a red motorcycle came hurtling towards us from the other direction. And because we were going at a snail's pace, I was able to stop the car so as not to hit the biker. He hit us instead.
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That's the biker in the red helmet, Joel, who incidentally had been driving for less than 6 months, and was on an errand to buy a pack of gum for his boss. Those people standing around him were my witnesses, all of them saying the biker was going too fast. That's Cherry, my secondhand car; plate bent, bumper dented.
On a cheerier note, the MAPSA enforcer who helped us with this case was Renato (i-forgot-his-last-name); local celebrity copper, that guy on the news who returned the million pesos he found on the streets (he proudly told us this bit of information after everything was settled). The first thing he asked was if the bike toppled over with the impact. It didn't.
He assured me by saying that if a bike stays upright after impact, it usually means that the bike rammed into the car rather than the other way around. Otherwise, the biker would've been flung to the ground and injured. Bim arrived on the scene a few minutes later, he slipped away from work to come to my rescue... by laughing like there's no tomorrow with Mang Renato. And more importantly, he came armed with a hug reserved for me.
It took a good hour and a half to settle things before we went inside to unload the goods. Kate and I shortly found things to busy ourselves with and once we did, we were happy campers working like little ants part of the ant colony, part of the bigger picture. We were joined later by respective office mates and friends, who all headed straight over after work to help out as well.
The goods had to be collected, distributed in family packs, moved to the collecting area to be counted and then finally loaded in the truck for distribution. It was tiring, manual labor, but it was also fulfilling and well worth it. Although what we had to offer was little, we were still welcomed. Everyone of different classes, of different ages were working together for a singular cause. Seeing everyone contribute whatever they can to help our countrymen who were hit badly by the storm gives one a sense of pride; that we know and we've proven that we can come together at a time like this, there's hope for us yet.
Someone told me that people volunteer to feel good about themselves, that it is a selfish act more than anything else. If that is the case, what the hell, then so be it. We feel better about ourselves AND we are able to help those who need helping. It's a win-win situation from all angles.
A couple of weeks after Ondoy wrecked a good part of the country, things seem calm. The hype has died down. Classes have resumed. Adults have gone back to work. Donations come in fewer and further in between. Now, more than ever, relief operation centers need more volunteers and donations. The disaster isn't over yet, there still are thousands of families in evacuation centers with no food to eat, and no houses to live in.
Let us still try to help in whatever way we can. Here is the list of places to donate and volunteer. Every little bit counts.