Many of us usually stay longer on bed and laze at home on Friday mornings. This morning is different. The Philippine Consulate General office in Dubai is so busy as individuals, families, officemates and various groups and volunteers from all walks came in droves to support Brunch-for-a-Cause and Task Force Yolanda relief operations. Everyone carries at least a bag of goods with them. Traffic is busy as cars drop off balikbayan cargo boxes of all sizes one after the other. There is a long queue for the brunch but people don't mind. There is a delay of foods to some but people patiently awaits. Actually, some just gave financial aid but didn't bother to get food - because it's not the food that they're actually there for, but to donate.
The outpouring support and donations from Filipinos and other expats is very overwhelming. Nakakaantig ng damdamin. If you're there you feel the heart of everyone. Love. There's no chaos, no tensions. Not even commercials and politics. No complaining, no bad vibes. People share the same emotions on stories told while they are waiting on queue or while just mingling around. The spirit of unity embraces everyone in the crowd. The passion to reach out is glaring. "If only we could do more..." is what many on the crowd there wish.
A lot of volunteers help hand-in-hand in segregating and repacking the goods - organizing them accordingly into foods, medicines, hygienic items, blankets, clothes for men, women or kids, so it's easier to unpack and distribute when it reaches its destination. The volunteers are amazing. They work tirelessly. They happily accommodate everyone, under the sun. They put their hearts in what they do. They don't mind the hours. Some of them skip lunch, or forget to drink. Indeed, nothing is really stronger than the heart of the volunteers.
Times like this once again prove that bayanihan (from the word, "bayani" which means hero) runs in the blood of Filipinos wherever we may be. Whatever kind of work we do, we come together as one to lend a hand and send a message of hope and inspiration for the victims and survivors of typhoon Haiyan.
Update: According to Ms. Matilyn Bagunu, President, Governing Council for Dubai and Northern Emirates, the event has raised AED 112,412.50 or Php 1,332,833.50 as of the current exchange rate. More than 1500 people attended. The group will be able to ship 2 20ft containers and 1 40ft container of assorted items within the week.
Ms. Matilyn shares one notable story:
"It is worth mentioning that the 50 fils came from the donations made by the brothers Ismail and Ibrahim Al Ashqar (AED 117.50) who brought with them their "coin jar" at the Consulate. As per their mother, Elizabeth, the two boys even made their own poster with the Philippine Flag in it and tried convincing other children to do the same. The PICPAns who took charge of the registration even narrated that the eldest (Ismail) was teary-eyed when he handed over their donation. What a heroic act at a very young (only on his 4th Grade at Westminster School)."She added...
"Please accept our heartfelt and sincerest gratitude for the overwhelming support that you have shown to help us rebuild our beloved country, the Philippines. "
Thanks to the Filipino Community for spearheading this drive. Thanks to the Filipino organizations. Thank you to the Philippine Consulate General and POLO/OWWA offices for the support. Thank you UAE.
Sino pa'ng magdadamayan, kundi tayo-tayo rin.