out of focus

Pope Francis came to Tacloban City last Saturday to console the survivors of super typhoon Haiyan.  It was a very emotional event for everyone in attendance.  Pilgrims from all over the country endured the cold wind and rain to listen to his message of mercy and compassion.

I opted to stay home and watched the proceedings on live TV broadcast. I was moved, and realized only then that I, too, am a survivor of this tragedy.

I hope this visit by Pope Francis gave everyone the closure we all need to leave those painful memories behind.


The weather disturbance has been affecting my focus lately, but a little sunshine should be able to fix it.


17 thoughts on “out of focus

  1. If anyone deserves some sunshine, then it’s the citizens of Tacloban and all the other areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda. There’s no doubt that life changed forever on that day fifteen months ago. Now, people are on edge at the slightest hint of a storm, a Pavlovian reaction to that terrible day. It will take a very long time for the events of that day to be erased, if ever they will. You’ve not really said how you were affected by Yolanda, but there’s no doubt in mind that you’re a victim – I think anyone witnessing the devastation cannot fail to have been traumatised. There are no answers but talking helps. We all need what I call “light at the end of the tunnel”, I hope you get to see that soon.

    My girl friend on Mindanao has been watching the papal proceedings on TV and it seems that Pope Francis has been a big hit, bringing comfort and joy to his flock. Such a shame that the weekend has been marked with such horrible weather.

    But coming back to sunshine, my wish for all is for the sun to shine But my wish isn’t just for sunshine, it is for peace, the most important type, peace of mind. It’s long overdue.

    • It was the aftermath of the typhoon that affected me more than the typhoon itself – the looting, the vandalism and wanton destruction of property by individuals who thought that making everybody equally poor was justice. Then there was the government’s lack of caring and support compounded by the systematic institutional stealing and withholding of the aid that was and is still due to us. I have lost a lot of faith, and my view of the people here have changed. I was hoping that my faith in people will change with the Pope’s coming, but that still remains to be seen. I am not a religious person, never was, but I am hoping that with everyone else going to church and attending mass on Sundays, they’d take the Pope’s message to heart and live their lives according to what is expected from the Catholics they claim to be. That is the sunshine I am looking forward to.
      Thank you for your thoughts and well wishes, Alan. They are very, very much appreciated.

      • Sorry for the late reply, Orlando. It’s been a busy time the last few weeks, as I left the UK for a two month stay in the Philippines on January 25th!

        I can well understand your disgust at the behaviour of the looters- in some ways, though, it’s not that surprising. Despite how we try to trick ourselves at how advanced we are, genetically some powerful forces come into play and we’re not that far advanced from the apes from which we descended.

        In addition, behaviour changes in groups, a sort of “mob rule” can come into play with some horrific changes in behaviour. In the aftermath of World War 2, many people were shocked by the horrendously cruel treatment meted our by the Nazis and the Japanese to their prisoners – in Europe, people puzzled how a civilised and cultured nation such as the Germans could inflict atrocities such as those committed in the concentration camps.

        Some psychologists carried out various experiments and one has stuck in my mind. In this, a random selection of people was divided into two random sub-groups. One was given full authority over the other, including the power to decide rules of behaviour and punishment in the case of transgressions. What was shocking was how quickly the group in power became cruel in the treatment of their charges and revelled in their “new-found” power. If I recall, the experiment had to be stopped because it became gratuitously violent. It was a horrific example of “mob mentality” and ot was reminiscent of a pack of wolves out for the kill.

        Of course, I’m not seeking to use that as an excuse, as plenty of people resist such forces, neverthless the power of these forces cannot be ignored. We’re talking of genetic “hard-wiring” here. And also, it’s a well recognised psychological fact that group behaviour is different to individual behaviour.

        The Government situation, however, was something that made me very angry. It started with Noynoy’s failure to go to Tacloban immediately was an unbelievably crass lack of political judgement. It gave the impression of a lack of care.

        A country’s leader should go immediately to a location where there is a problem. One reason is to show concern and offer moral comfort. Another is to see for himself what is actually happening on the ground. To rely on aides to report back non the situation is naive and shows a lack of political aptitude.

        I am not a fan of Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, but I have to give him credit, whenever there is a national problem, he is there immediately. You see this with every national leader.

        Pnoy’s failure to attend promptly made it possible for a war of blame to commence between local and national government. What exasperated me even more was to hear Noynoy getting angry with international criticism of how slowly aid was getting through to the areas in need. This was hardly a time to stand on pride – what was important was to put pride, ego and political differences aside in the interests of getting immediate assistance to the people in dire need. And of course, in recent days, Pnoy has continued to show his ineptitude regarding the fallen 44 in the Mamasapano.

        The people of the Philippines deserve much better from their leaders and they must have better if things are to improve.

        While the Pope’s visit was a morale booster to his flock, I’m afraid I doubt we will see the results you hope for. Despite many thoroughly decent people in the country, there are still many who think it’s acceptable to line their pockets at somone else’s expense – it starts at the top with corrupt politicians and goes down to street level with some ordinary citizens thinking it’s fair game to rip off anybody they choose.

        At my Manila hotel I was short-changed 10 pesos by the person serving my meal. The following day I was short-changed 5 pesos when buying a coffee and a bun at the airport. Yesterday, my g/f held a birthday party for her son – today we found my wallet containing around 7000 PHP was missing. The suspect is a helper of my future son-in-law’s family who was assisting, but we can’t prove it. I am naturally a very trusting person but episodes like this, make me less and less trusting every day, something which goes against the grain for me. But such is life.

      • We can spend a year talking about local politics and even that won’t be enough. The current crisis down south has made things worse for this administration, and until now we can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Even worse, a cover up is in the works. I wonder if we ever will have honest leaders.
        If in case you have plans to visit my island while plane fare is still relatively cheap, do let me know. Coffee’s on me.

  2. Was looking forward to your take on Pope Francis coming to Tacloban City last Saturday, and I imagine it must have been so emotional. I visited the church where he was going to speak, and tried to imagine how the area would respond…and all I could feel was hope and compassion ~ and I hope this brings to you all the sunshine you need to get the focus back 🙂

    A wonderful shot paired with your wonderful words.

    • His visit was cut short due to the bad weather, but he came nonetheless and for that we are thankful. His message said it all.
      It would have been better if he stayed a day or 2 longer and visited the heavily affected areas but that’s something we have no control of.
      Thank you.

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