Saturday, October 3, 2009

US GIs Wonder , Filipinos Still Smiling

By Beverly T. Natividad
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:06:00 10/03/2009

MANILA, Philippines – A team of American soldiers got a first-hand look at the devastation wrought by tropical storm “Ondoy” – and ended up wondering how Filipinos could still smile and give them “high-fives” amid a terrible calamity.

At least 27 members of the 3rd US Marine Expeditionary Force, composed of doctors, nurses, medical aides and a chaplain, the other day conducted a medical and dental mission at Nangka Elementary School, which sheltered thousands displaced by the massive floods in Marikina City.

“We’ve seen things here [in terms of the destruction] that we haven’t seen before. This is really the least we can do. We wish we could stay longer,” said Lt. Commander Todd Endicott, the mission’s leader.

Endicott also shared one interesting observation: “We all wonder how
[Filipinos] keep smiling through all this.”

“Americans probably wouldn’t handle this as well. Here, people are smiling, saying ‘Hi’ to us, giving us high-fives. This is a pretty miserable situation, how people keep smiling, I don’t know. It’s probably a testament to the culture,” Endicott said.

Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr., AFP spokesman, said the US mission was the first in a series that the group would conduct in the next few days in Eastern Metro Manila, one of the areas hit hardest by storm.

Wading through mud

Wading through the mud, the GIs and their counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also distributed medicines and clothes.

Hunched in small chairs meant for schoolchildren, US troopers made do with the few tables and chairs available.

They treated mostly the wounded – those who fled the floods barefoot amid the debris – as well as evacuees suffering from colds and cough.

American troopers who took part in the mission were supposed to undergo training north of the country, Endicott said, “but we were told that there’s flooding, destruction and displaced people here so we sprang into action.”

To help clean up

Two more US military units – 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, both stationed in Okinawa, Japan – are expected to ship heavy equipment to help in the cleanup of the disaster areas in the next few days.

These would include a bulldozer, five cargo trucks, five heavy transport vehicles and two heavy-lift helicopters.

1 comment:

ErnestoDR said...

Many in the western world do not know the real Pinoy.

We are a bunch of resilient people; we survive and we thrive; we cope up and make do of what is left before us; we easily lick our wounds and begin the healing process; we do not agonize in our misfortunes but manage to smile.

To Pinoys, life will go on, fire or high waters! And this has been proven in the past --- earthquakes, typhoons, fires, floods, war, colonization, revolutions, martial law, politicization, etc.

I once flew a foreign diplomat to Laoag during the return of the Marcos family from exile, and he expressed to me his bewilderment, " How could a people who hated Marcos now welcome him like a hero?",pointing to me so many people lined up in the streets to meet the dead president and the family.

I said we are a very resilient and forgiving people. We adeptly adjust to any situation and we easily forgive those who hurt us to the point that we are thought of as naive or oblivious of our surroundings.

To a certain degree, Filipinos could also be extreme. We can be tender and yet become very ferocious. We can be very disciplined and yet become the most unruly crowd. We can achieve so much and yet be a failure. We can be so involved in issues directly affecting us and yet be unconcerned about the more important issues of life.

To a greater certain extent, we are neither hot or cold --- this I abhor. No one should be a fence-sitter; we should all be involved!

Remember Rizal!