BY VOLTAIRE TUPAZ
POSTED ON 03/01/2014 11:31 PM | UPDATED 03/02/2014 11:17 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Singaporean performer Miranda Ho Sze-Yi had second thoughts in joining a group of artists who went to Leyte and Samar last January. The group staged a free two-day benefit concert for Typhoon Haiyan survivors dubbed “From Singapore with love.”I was a bit hesitant on going, I am not going to lie,” Sze-Yi said.
The scale of death and destruction flashed on television and posted in the Internet a thousand times must have scared her. She is not used to seeing children, women, and families crammed into endless rows of rain-soaked makeshift shelters. She lives in a country with no homeless residents and where homes are built to withstand disasters.
But when she met the people in the cities of Ormoc, Tacloban, and Borongan, she realized she made the right decision to come and perform for the survivors. She was not only able to help but also found new friends.”The locals were so welcoming and enthusiastic! Sometimes I even forgot where we were and had fun with them, just like old friends,” Ho Sze-Yi recalled her experience.
Adopt a family, build a house
Hundreds of survivors showed up to watch the performances that gave them a brief respite from the impact of the tragedy. Directed by the award-winning Singaporean composer Erick Guansing, the performances showcased various music styles including rock, pop, ballad, and hip hop.
“We were so glad that this simple act of kindness through the power of music, was able to contribute substantially not only to the material and tangible rehabilitation…but most significantly, for a moment, we were able to entertain them,” said MaryJane Salomon, founder of Help Direct Initiative (HDI), which organized the concert.Part of the event was the distribution of more than a thousand mattresses donated by the Singapore Red Cross.
HDI also launched a campaign called “Adopt A Family and Build A House for P20,000 or 600 SGD.” Every house, which will be built by local carpenters following building standards, will be named after the benefactor.”It is our goal to make every survivor feel that people outside of the Philippines, such as the Singaporeans, understand and will continue to provide support, when its needed in more ways than one,” Salomon said.Months after the deadliest typhoon hit the Philippines, the “needs remain enormous,” according to the United Nations. It urged government and aid agencies to find ways to provide shelter for the homeless.
Typhoon Haiyan hit Visayas on November 8, 2013, destroying 1.1 million houses and leaving more than 4 million people homeless. It killed at least 6,200 people. More than 2,000 others are still missing.
Helping a neighbor in need
This March, a 30-minute documentary film about the concert and the plight of Haiyan survivors will be aired in Singapore to help raise funds for recovery efforts.
The documentary is directed by Ian White and co-produced by Gin Kai Chan, one of Singapore’s prominent filmmakers.
Chan, who also visited Leyte and Samar, said he was inspired to see how strong the spirit of the Filipino people is in the face of massive destruction and loss of life.”The storm might have destroyed houses, but solidarity within families, and the unity of the community grew. It may have brought about hunger and sicknesses, but it also strengthened the resolve and resilience of the people,” Chan said.”I may have come to provide assistance, but I left with a heart that is humbled, and that has learnt so much from you. As a Singaporean, a neighbor that is not far from you, I will carry on doing my utmost to help you,” he added. – Rappler.com