Heroism in the midst of crisis

The Bayanihan spirit is by no means dead and forgotten. Filipinos remain committed to help, no matter how big or small, and no matter how difficult their own lives are

Heroes don't necessarily wear capes and costumes. They wear their hearts up their sleeves even in their simple shirts and shorts/jeans.

On a silent 12 January 2020 afternoon, the Taal Volcano in Batangas Province suddenly erupted, 43 years after its previous eruption in 1977. The 'phreatic' eruption from the main crater spewed ashes to other towns of Batangas and nearby provinces of Cavite, Rizal; the entire Metro Manila; and select parts of the Central Luzon Region. The eruption also forced the suspension of classes and government work.

Based on recent estimates, there were about 2 casualties and around 82,000 were evacuated from 12 towns within the danger zone since Sunday, 12 January 2020. The government estimates the economic impact of the eruption to be at Php 7.6 Billion in the province of Batangas alone. 

Amid the crisis faced by many residents in the areas surrounding the volcano, humanitarian aid and response has been overwhelming, with the international aid and donor community, national government units, local government units, private organizations, celebrities and ordinary individuals providing timely assistance and support.

The global community, amid tension and conflicts between countries and superpowers, has immediately answered to the call for support.

The United States, through the US Embassy, is currently providing thermographic cameras and remote technical support to assist the Philippine government in monitoring Taal's volcanic activity.  The Chinese Coast Guard donated about 600 pieces of N95 masks, food packs and other relief goods to evacuees in Batangas.

The Bayanihan spirit is by no means dead and forgotten. Filipinos remain committed to help, no matter how big or small, and no matter how difficult their own lives are.

Local celebrities such as Angel Locsin, among others, have mobilized support and personally visited victims in the nearby danger zones to uplift their morale. Various Metro Manila Mayors have also sent relief packs to evacuation centers due to shortage in basic goods and commodities. Private entities have also provided financial and logistical assistance. 

It is admirable that some ordinary citizens have even risked life and limb just to extend a helping hand to those in need. Recently, three young volunteers passed away in an accidental crash after handing out relief goods to an evacuation center in Batangas.

Heroes don’t necessarily have to wear capes and costumes. This disaster and many others in the past have proven that heroes can be in the form and guise of ordinary human beings.

Many of us have seen the Avengers movie series and how the collaboration of superheroes can topple a strong foe such as Thanos. In today's modern world, we don't have superheroes with extraordinary powers. We only have individuals from different cultural orientations, organizations and countries with extraordinary hearts. There are no enemies, only global challenges such as natural disasters to confront.

No need to call "Avengers, Assemble" in the face of global crisis. Unity amidst diversity is a call all of us must heed in response to the growing challenges our world is facing.



About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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