After The Storm

I just wanted to let you all know that my family and I are safe – me in Quezon City and my parents in Laguna – and we have been spared the worst of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.

That does not take away from the reality that the Visayan islands have been severely affected by the typhoon. 
Every day, my dormmates are glued to the TV waiting for news on the relief efforts in their home provinces. My Twitter feed is filled with pictures of missing persons being traced, or survivors telling their loved ones that they’re still alive. Some of the news is good, some are bad, all of them are heart-breaking. 
Everything else seems so trivial by comparison. 
That does not mean I’m helpless. Oh, no, I’m far from it.
I’ve been doing a lot of re-tweeting and re-posting lately on my social media accounts, especially for my friends outside of the Philippines. Any beacon of hope I can get my hands on gets re-posted; when my telcom carrier announced that they have restored services to Tacloban and other cities, for example, I immediately pushed the “re-tweet” button to pass the word on. And of course I can’t help but look at the celebrity tweets, though I’m giving Mark Ruffalo some props for giving more than the usual statement of sympathy by RT-ing links to relief efforts. (Guy is a major environmental advocate, so it’s a welcome change to see a celeb walking the walk as his way of sharing sympathy.) 
But mostly I follow the news. 
The social-media advocacy is especially important to me. I have enough experience with charitable organizations to know that some donations are more valuable than others. This is part of the reason why I also advise my friends to be mindful of what they can give. Nothing wrong with donating material goods, but at this point it’s more important for the survivors to have immediate access to food and clean water rather than be stuck with “nice-to-have” items that could clog up space in warehouses. 
I also believe that time spent on social media must be spent wisely. A friend of mine shared a note on Facebook stating that now is not a good time to post selfies and pictures of food and shopping hauls, and I agree. If you’re going to be on FB/Twitter/Instagram/what-have-you anyway, you might as well be proactive about it. Be sensitive and sensible.  
Here is Rappler’s updated list of organizations who are doing their share to help out with the relief efforts. Give what you can give, even if it’s just a few minutes of silence every day for everyone affected. 
Everything counts. Everyone is family. 

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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