Letting Yolanda Permanently Change You

taclobanWhen I arrived home Sunday night to watch news on what happened with the super typhoon, I was in shock. The first few aerial pictures of Tacloban were coming in. It was utter devastation. Worse, there was a blackout on how people actually were on the affected islands as all communication lines were down.

It was getting ominous.

News over the next few days confirmed our very worst fears. Thousands dead. Cities, literally wiped out. Lives destroyed. The next day, Inquirer hailed it as the worst Philippine disaster. Ever.

As media started descending on the island, the footage veered from bird’s-eye onto man-on-the-street.

I’m not so sure if anyone watching could hold tears back as you listen to the stories. People wailing as they tell gut-wrenching stories of their last moments with their beloved. Parents burying children. Children burying parents. Families watching each other slowly starve to death and beg for food on the air.

It’s almost too painful to watch.

I think we have to continue on watching though. We have to continue letting ourselves tear up while listening to the stories. We have to let ourselves be incredulous as to why the goods aren’t getting where they should go. We have to feel.

These are our people, after all.

This IS actually happening. Thousands HAVE died and hundreds more are sick, hungry, and desperate, all fighting for their very lives as the relief efforts unbelievably are having a hard time reaching them.

These are our people.

We have to keep watching.

We have to keep feeling.

The coverage has elicited an unprecedented response from people watching.

We all know about how much international and local aid is pouring in. By now, I know a number of you reading have already volunteered your time in packing and sorting relief goods. I know a great number of companies doing their own drives. Individuals have become quite entrepreneurial and creative in their efforts to raise money. Children in other countries have set up lemonade stands to raise their own funds to give.


The response has been heartwarming.

The thing is, we all know this fervor WILL die down in perhaps a couple of months. The lemonade stands will close shop. The company programs will cease. There will be considerably less social media attention devoted to the victims.

This is where the wheat shall be separated from the chaff.

Post-fervor, will you be one of those people still helping in your own way? 

If you were watching footage, reading the stories, staring at the expressions on the unforgettable images – then you must have felt your heart get tugged.

Here’s my challenge: why not respond in a permanent manner?

The last few days, I’ve largely been a bit quieter than usual. I’ve been on some kind of existential self-questioning.

OK, if I know that I DO want to lead a life where I am involved in nation building and helping out, then is this the line of work I really want to do? Is what I am doing ultimately helping out my less privileged countrymen?  Can I do more?

Perhaps we need to let Yolanda disturb us to our core. Perhaps we need to let it float serious questions within us about our current lifestyle and career trajectory.

We all want something good to come out of all this, perhaps we should start with our own hearts.

Let Yolanda change you.

(If you think people would resonate and appreciate this article, be a blessing and share 🙂 

Entrepreneurial Thinking Needed in Yolanda Aftermath

Okay, so you’ve given both money and items in kind.

You’ve volunteered your time and helped packed goods.

Chances are though (especially if you’ve seen the gut-wrenching footage), you’re still asking:


Perhaps one thing is to do what this blog advocates.

Be an entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur is all about problem solving. It’s all about finding new, better ways of doing things in the harshest of conditions.


Yolanda has brought about all sorts of grand problems in the most unimaginable of conditions. Rebuilding – both immediate and in the longer term – will REQUIRE entrepreneurial thinking.

Amidst all the carnage, I see a lot of very inspiring, creative, entrepreneurial problem-solving that is happening.

Like using crowdsourcing here:


Or getting programmers to rapidly develop useful disaster-management apps…

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 12.14.43 AM

Or even big companies doing something fairly unique by relying on their own strengths…

air asia
They’ll actually be flying volunteers into the affected areas for free!

I also see a lot of very inspiring “entrepreneurial” activities on social media: from individuals leading and organizing their own fund drives, to people trying to solve very specific problems (a friend of mine posted an emergency need for a plane/helicopter – she got it 🙂

We need more of these!

Let’s help in all the usual ways – of course. But let’s also dig deep and channel our entrepreneurial sensibilities towards this Grand Canyon of a problem set:

What problem areas aren’t being focused on? What are Blue Ocean solutions? 

How can we maximize our limited resources to achieve the biggest impact?

Which set of people can I help out? Which can I target? 

How can I best help out, calling to mind my own strengths and passions?

How can technology augment current solutions which are being utilized?

What are the long term ramifications? What strategy can I pursue or advocate which best serves the would-be status quo? How can long term solutions be sustainable?

How can jobs be built for the people in the affected areas?

(Be a blessing and share if you think this can be helpful to someone!)