When I was a child in the Philippines, I briefly learned about the Bayanihan Spirit. This is what I learned:
In the olden days, houses in the rural areas of the Philippines were made of bamboo and palm fronds. They were light and portable. Therefore, when a family had to move their homes to a different location, the whole village would get together to help the family move. The strong men put the house on their shoulders and together they moved it to the desired location. The movers had musicians walk along with them, strumming their guitars singing traditional folk songs. The other men and women helped carry belongings and some of the women cooked up a feast at their new location. After the men secure the house, everybody had a party.
Over the years, I have forgotten all about it until recently. I saw the devastation Typhoon Haiyan caused in the Philippines. I read all about horrors these poor people experienced. I shared with millions of people around the world the same sick and helpless feeling as photos and videos of the devastations and anarchy that followed slowly emerged for us to see. Then, we start reading and watching heroes who risked their lives to save their fellow man, simple humanity unexpected in a place that is in hellish chaos that the natural order of things were survival of the fittest and every man for himself. As logistically possible, we slowly watch the world quickly come to their aid.
In my neck of the woods, I too wanted to help. As soon as I ironed out the logistics on how to get the donations to the survivors, I reached out to my friends. The majority of them are not Filipino. In the last two weeks, they filled up my van with diapers, formula, food, clothing, medicine, etc. I was touched by their generosity and humanity. My email asking for donations was forwarded to other generous moms who chastised me for not including them in the email. Even my children’s pediatrician, whom I took a chance to ask for some formula, reached out to another office and between the two practices, donated over 200 cans of formula. These generous donors thanked me, but it is I who needs to thank them for their generosity. Without them, I had nothing to deliver, and without them, there wouldn’t be anything to airfreight to the Philippines. Every little bit counts toward the greater good.
I know that people around the world are doing the same thing. Young and old, rich and poor, people gave what they could afford. Stories about some street urchins in Manila who knew of a woman who was putting together relief boxes for the survivors, scraped together what they very little they owned, knocked on her door, and handed their donations. Countries such as USA, Japan, Israel, and UK were in ground zero as fast as they could get there. Countries and corporations donated millions and dispatched their own people — as large as a whole battalion to a crew of 2, they came to aid a country crippled with devastation. It was the most touching sight to see.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote a book “It takes a Village And Other Lessons Children Teach Us” when she was First Lady. I always liked the phrase “It takes a village”. The concept rings true on the impact of individuals and groups outside the family have on the well being of children.
In 2006, I battled breast cancer, and my community helped me get through the ordeal. My girlfriends all came together and helped with carpool, meals, kept me company during chemo, etc. That was when the phrase “It takes a village” really meant something. My village got me through my illness.
Fast forward to November 2013. After I saw the world come together to help out the survivors of the typhoon, I just realized that the phrases “It takes a village” and “the Bayanihan Spirit” have the same meaning. We don’t have to be children to be raised by a village, nor we don’t have to be Filipino to have the Bayanihan Spirit. The phrases ring true towards any community that comes together to help a cause. Therefore, I would like to say, thank you world, for having the Bayanihan Spirit. Thank you world for being a wonderful village that has made a great and positive impact on helping out my people. Thank you! Thank you!