We Will All Tire of Yolanda / by John Javellana

A typhoon Haiyan survivor looks for items that can be traded for cash in a dumpsite in Palo

 We will all tire of Yolanda. One way or another.

            Doctors are still operating with insufficient equipment and staff to the point that they double as nurses. Members of the MMDA have been working around the clock, clearing the debris that seemingly has no end. Business owners strive to reopen and operate the hotels, restaurants and shops despite the enormous struggle to provide service in the midst of the ruined city. Teachers take on the role of cleaning up the campuses with the hope that classes can “hopefully” start soon. 

        There is a group that is called Task Force “Cadaver” in which I personally do think is an example of how appropriate a usually inappropriate coinage can be.   For the first time they claim that different sectors of the government have decided to collaborate and help each other out for a shared goal. They are comprised of men from the Fire Bureau who have gone way beyond their mandate to of fighting fire to retrieve each body that they see or hear about. Every solitary one they could get their hands on. It was already an uninviting task until I witnessed what the members of the NBI and the DOH were doing. They painstakingly open each and every cadaver bag to make sure that they are properly tagged and “re-bagged." They are the people who hold the key to providing the families of each body with the hope of closure or even just a burial that does not hold a semblance to lines sacks of rice being dumped in a hole. It will be a long and painful process of tagging each and every body they have. But even they know that this only will go on if they get sufficient support to fund the process.

         Virtually all the NGOs from around the world are there too and are giving it everything they can each and every day just to give a random survivor a new lease in life just by trying providing the very basic things that a human being needs to get by.  I have met civilians who even flew from different countries on their own just to give what they can. They had no experience in conducting aid and relief missions and simply just took leaps of faith as they felt letting the calls of the survivors lead them to places they never imagined they would ever reach or see. They themselves struggled to survive just to be able to give what they can. Nothing is small here.  Anything will make a difference.

    Journalists are exhausted from churning out stories that will help to hold the world's attention. There is no shortage of important stories to tell, but there is such a thing as audience fatigue, and I believe that it is fast catching up on those who once devotedly followed Yolanda.

        I confess that I am tired of seeing dead bodies in full detail.  The bodies that I have seen in person, with each one I have photographed and taken back with me to Manila. I struggle to keep my eyes open and focused on the frame as I now edit. The greatest weight will never hit you immediately. It only hits you days or weeks after, when you are back in your personal reality. You realize that you are no longer the same. It has grown hard for you fit in and to exist in the same way as before. Nevertheless, what the hell it is I am tired of is nothing in comparison to each and every profession that has been mentioned above. The thing is they will all get tired as well and would just have to walk away from all this, even just for a while.

        And then you begin to consider how tired the survivors are. It is quite amazing how they can still have so much hope and optimism despite the virtually hopeless situations each and every one of them is facing. Their strength puzzles me. Maybe reality hasn't sunk in yet to them. Maybe this is resilience at its best, and we are actually seeing and bearing witness to it. Probably it's the absence of choice that triggers that human instinct to survive that is making resiliency possible.

      They will get tired too — tired of hoping, fighting, surviving. The world has been strong for these people who have lost more than a person could imagine and it has allowed them to slowly rise up from the impossible. But for how much longer can the world stand behind them?

        The fight has only just begun. The news value of this has gone. However, it hell does not mean that it's over. It's the long-term and underlying issues that are now presenting themselves one after the other. And these are factors that can easily make all the world's preliminary efforts completely useless.

        This is why this story still matters. This is why i think that the world should still continue to care. Humanity doesn’t stop because we are tired. It must go on. Even if we are all exhausted we should not look away, we have to keep our eyes within the frame.