Celebrating Christmas and helping the unfortunate

By Joshua Corcuera

Christmas is just around the corner, but the mood is not necessarily celebratory to many fellow Filipinos—especially those who hail from Visayas and Mindanao.

It’s December 19 as I write this article, it will be Christmas in less than a week. We, Filipinos, have grown up with the mentality that such a holiday is full of joy; a holiday where children go outside happily as they go to their relatives receiving precious gifts while spending quality time. After all, as far as the Catholic faith is concerned, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ into this world.

As someone who lives in Luzon, specifically in the country’s capital city Manila, I can say that Christmas is indeed coming. There are a lot of bright decorations in the streets as well as in private residences, children are starting to sing Christmas songs again, and the wind is cold especially at night and sunrise. This does not mean, however, that the same can be said elsewhere.

A strong typhoon has devastated the Visayan islands and Mindanao recently affecting millions of people along the way. Last Thursday, Typhoon Odette made landfall on the popular tourist destination of Siargao. As the storm moved westward, it hit populated areas such as Cebu and caused serious problems as to electricity, water, and communication.

To these people, Christmas seems absent; there is no reason to enjoy when your house was damaged by strong winds or worse, someone has died. It is essential for people who are fortunate in life to be compassionate to victims of natural disasters, especially in the context that Christmas is coming. More importantly, the-powers-that-be must act swiftly in addressing the concerns of the affected populace. Interestingly, politicians—especially those running for lofty national positions—are dominating news articles. Hopefully, they do such good deeds not to promote their names, but because they genuinely care. To be fair, some candidates have been very helpful even in past calamities where elections were still distant.

But isn’t it weird, you may ask, that a strong storm would hit the country this late in the year? In fact, typhoons seem to be non-existent during this month, at least from a personal point of view. I cannot remember the last time a storm hit the Philippines in December. Let alone a strong one.

However, abnormal and irregular typhoon patterns should not come as a shock. After all, climate change is already affecting the world in one way or another. Climate change, which is mostly caused by human activities that are detrimental to the environment, is expected to make things worse in the years to come, assuming that we do nothing. Storms are expected to be more frequent and even stronger than what they are right now, while droughts could last longer during the dry season. Ultimately, people will be affected by suffering from food shortages, risks and damages brought by disasters, and lack of access to water and other necessities.

Basically, what we have done would go back to us. The recent onslaught and devastation caused by Typhoon Odette should be a warning and a reminder to us all. We must change our ways for the better if we do not want to suffer from the effects of climate change. After all, the consequences brought by climate change know no time—they can cause suffering to humans even at times where we do not expect them, at times where we are supposed to be calm.