When disaster strikes, you start seeing a person’s true mettle. When Typhoon Ondoy struck, I saw people from all walks and ways of life come together in their own ways to help those most severely affected.

I didn’t realize the extent of the damage all over the metro until I logged onto Plurk and found a lot of my online friends checking to make sure everyone they knew was safe. Some we couldn’t get in touch with, and I started to get worried. Despite comparisons with Hurricane Katrina in the US, Typhoon Ondoy (international name “Kestana”) dumped more than double Katrina’s amount of rainfall in 6 hours. It’s that bad.

I woke up the next morning to news about widespread flooding in Marikina, Pasig, and Cainta, among other places. Most of the people who go to my church, Victory Ortigas, come from those places. Instead of holding church services on Sunday, ministry workers and volunteers began rescue and relief operations that lasted round-the-clock starting early Sunday morning. I took on the night shift from 11pm to 8am and disseminated news about our aid efforts, solicited prayers for our rescue workers, and repacked goods for distribution to those in need.

Meanwhile, other friends of mine in the blogosphere got busy. Mike Villar (NOT the Senator, whose name is Manny) set up a website to gather donations for the Philippine National Red Cross through ChipIn/Paypal. The Philippines needs your help. If you’re overseas, please do see if you can contribute financially this way.

Everyone else (like thegreatest and dementia) has been posting, tweeting, plurking news they come across. In this instance, citizen journalism through microblogging and social networks trumped mainstream journalism sources, which resorted to reporting about the news on the microblogging platforms, like Twitter. People whose internet connections remained stable got their news about how to help out mostly from the tweets of people near relief centers. Some people who lived in the affected areas, like Provident Village, were able to upload photos and video of the aftermath.

Today is day three of our relief and rescue efforts. I don’t have work later because two of the gyms I teach at (Eastwood and Metro East) were affected by the flooding. I’m going to use my time instead to volunteer. I may not have much to donate, but my hands and feet are at disposal.

UPDATE: You can now donate directly to the Philippine National Red Cross using Paypal.

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