RU Student Life welcomes guest blogger Jane Espiritu.
Before the typhoon happened, I heard about the warning from my uncle, who is constantly attached to the Filipino Channel at home, back in Brampton. When I heard the news, it did not affect me as much because I knew major floods always impacted the Philippines and this was another temporary shift in the weather. I was also not aware of how severe it was going to be. In my head, I reminisced about the times I spent growing up in the Philippines when areas of my hometown would be hit by floods. I remember being seven years old, and my cousins and I begging our parents to let us out and play outside, where water filled our front yard at least three feet high.
The next day, when the news was swamped by updates on Typhoon Haiyan, I read every article that Google News could possibly lead me to about the tragedy. I did not know what to say or do, but I felt my heart sinking more and more as I flipped through the photos showing the aftermath from the typhoon. What was even worse, when I went back home to Brampton my family watched the Filipino News Channel all day, and the heaviness in my heart continued as I heard the cries of the citizens being interviewed, and in the background, my mom was fighting back her own tears.
What hurts me the most is that growing up in the Philippines and knowing the way we are, Filipinos are the happiest and most optimistic, even in light of the poor conditions that they live in. On top of that, Christmas is around the corner and people in the Philippines look forward to Christmas like no other – Christmas trees go up as soon as the name of the month ends in “-ber”. My dad always reminded me that a lot of people in the Philippines save up for an entire year to treat themselves to a special dinner for Christmas, while families here have that every day.
I am sure that a lot of students carry heaviness in their heart when thinking about this tragedy, and it’s incredible what others are doing on campus to raise awareness to support the Typhoon relief. Being a part of the Tri-mentoring Program and having had the opportunity to collaborate with the Filipino Canadian Association of Ryerson (FCAR), my heart doesn’t feel so heavy anymore knowing that a lot of people are putting so much effort to help the Philippines. Additionally, it has taught me more about university and that it goes beyond the lecture hall – university is also about meeting new people and forming communities on campus that support each other, and work towards initiatives to bring awareness for people all over the world.