I’m also a survivor of a tragedy in Quezon province nine years ago, but what happening now is so different. The typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a Yolanda) is historically the strongest storm ever recorded. It ripped not just 3 towns, but almost the entire Visayan Region and its neighboring provinces. Way back 2004, TV and radio were the main sources of information, whether it is true or just manipulated. But today, people are not just listening to the news on traditional media, they are also engaging on social media.
Social media plays a vital role in propagating news before and after the calamity. In our case today, people are informed that there will be a category 5 typhoon to hit the country. LGU and many people managed to prepare, but Yolanda was just so strong, leaving the region flattened and devastated, with 10,000 people feared dead.
News from local, international and social media cause so much heartbreak to the Filipino nation. Survivors are seen on TV begging for food and water, but the government failed to immediately aid its people, resulting to negative sentiments towards the Philippine government. News about battle of religions and also a cat fight of news anchors are spreading online. Many self-righteous people hate netizens who are not showing sympathy on social media (they are the people who love taking ‘selfies’, ‘food porn’, among others), however, they also hate netizens who love to take picture of their donations and post it online, citing it as a simple show off.
Social media in the Philippines is so noisy today. The wrong information and news shared by many netizens only add chaos and anger. Improper use of vital hashtags is another problem as well, instead of being an efficient tool, the volunteers have to sift through all the posts to identify the legit ones.
Amidst of this catastrophe that paralyzed the Eastern Visayas, people, companies, other countries, global leaders and international communities all over the world show that humanity is still in our hearts. Prayers and relief assistance are overwhelming.
This is another challenge for us, Filipino nation. Let’s stop pointing our fingers and blaming other people, instead, let us unite as one nation. Furthermore, please be reminded that we do not think alike, as well as on showing our sympathy and how we mourn. Criticizing others could not help the survivors. Let netizens post whatever they want, because it’s a free country, focus instead on helping the survivors, even in little way and stay vigilant in monitoring if the vast donations reach its right destination, the Yolanda survivors.