As you cannot fail to have missed if you have seen the news in the last few days, parts of The Philippines have been devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. We see familiar scenes of destruction, people without food or accommodation and bodies left un-buried in the streets. We have seen similar scenes before of course and we can predict the near-term future as the rats move in and disease strikes these vulnerable people.
I visited The Philippines over several years on business back in the 1990’s and each time I visited I was nervous; there was always an edge of danger to the country and in the early visits, I flew in, did what I needed to do, then flew back to the comfort of Singapore as quickly as possible.
But I grew to love the place and stayed over at weekends as often as I could. Here are a few memories:
My guide – Eric from the Philips office in Manila – drove me around in his Toyota. We passed from the relative posterity of Makati (the financial district) through the poverty of Manila’s shanty towns and on reaching our client’s premises, we were requested to leave our firearms with reception. Coming from the UK, this was quite an eye-opener.
On one memorable occasion, Eric was taking me to the airport and as we were a little early, we stopped for lunch at a very nice restaurant. (Nice that is except it was undergoing one of the country’s infamous power cuts). When we left the restaurant we headed back to Eric’s car. He inserted the key in the lock but failed to open the door.
“Strange, it won’t open” said Eric.
I looked at the car and it seemed to be a lighter shade of blue to his. Still he wiggled the key with slightly more aggression.
“Eric,” I said, “I don’t think this is your car.”
He stopped and looked and he pulled the key out as if it had been wired to the mains.
“It’s not my car! Run!”
When we reached his car, Eric accelerated away with a start that Lewis Hamilton would’ve been proud of.
When we’d got our breath back, I asked Eric why we had to run.
He replied, “if the owner had seen us breaking in to his car, he’d have shot us!”
So quite an edgy place. But I’d grown to love it. And while it’s crazy and a tad shambolic, what makes it so special is the warmth and friendliness of its people. Everyone seems to smile there. And you can see this in the TV pictures despite their suffering.
These people don’t deserve this. So many people homeless and hungry with such few resources to help them.
But I am a business owner and there is something I can do to help – albeit in a way that barely scratches the surface. I decided that I will donate November’s profits to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). I expect that one of the major challenges that the people will face in the coming weeks is the spread of disease due to contaminated water supplies. According to the MSF website, the humanitarian cargo includes medical kits for treating wounded, material for medical consultations, tetanus vaccines, and relief items such as tents and hygiene kits.
How can you help?
Raven Crest Books has a fantastic catalogue of books from inspiring authors. You will see those available from Amazon in the box to the right. Just pick a book that takes your fancy. Buy it, read it and enjoy.
To repeat, November’s profits will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières.
Thank you for reading.