Monday, November 18, 2013

Thankful in the Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

After Typhoon Haiyan struck the central region of the Philippines, I had a lot of friends reach out to me and ask if I had any family still over there. And if I did, were they okay.

Luckily, all my relatives are safe.

Many of my friends asked me all kinds of questions about the Philippines, which got me thinking...many here in the States don't know much about the country my parents came from. So I thought I'd share some very interesting facts about the Philippines.

1) Demographics: 100 million people, with 1.8 million here in the States. And the median age of people living in the Philippines is a VERY young 23 years old

2) Georgraphy: Its made up of 7000 islands, with more than 200 volcanoes.

3) Religion: 80% of Filipinos are Catholic, another 10% are other Christians, and another 10% are Muslim.

4) History: The Philippines was a Spanish colony for 375 years. In 1898, it was ceded to the United States, and it was granted Commonwealth status in 1935. After World War II, the Philippines was granted independence.

5) World War II: Some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific occurred in the Philippines. The Japanese committed many atrocities against Filipinos and Americans. Some of the more well known incidents were the Death March at Bataan and the Manila Massacre. My grandfather was taken prisoner by the Japanese, and during their march, he and a handful of American G.I.s beat up their guards and ran into the jungle. My grandfather didn't talk about that horrible experience much when he was alive.

6) Inventions: Karaoke was invented in the Philippines, not Japan! Other inventions include: the butterfly knife, the yo-yo (which was also a weapon), the medical incubator (the kind used today in hospitals NICUs), and the florescent lamp.

7) Super Typhoon Haiyan was 3.5 times more powerful than Hurricane Katrina. Original death estimates were put at 10,000, and the most recent number I've seen is that nearly 4,000 are confirmed. So many bodies were washed out into the ocean. 11.3 million Filipinos have been affected, with nearly 700,000 of them homeless.

Which brings me to this post. So many lives have been lost in the Philippines, and I've been touched by the outpouring of love and support from all around the world. When these kinds of horrible disasters occur, it's a swift reminder to never take what you have for granted.

So I want to help. In fact, I want to help YOU help. In the comments below, I want you to tell me just one thing you're thankful for. When you're done, click the entry on the Rafflecopter widget. You have until this Saturday the 23rd at 11:59 to enter.

The winner will get a special prize. I will donate $50 in YOUR HONOR to the Direct Relief organization, where 100% of the money donated on your behalf will go straight to help those in the Philippines. Direct Relief is helping in many fronts, particularly with sending critical medical supplies and outfitting medical personnel to the Philippines.

Direct Relief is a fantastic organization. It has been given the full 4 Stars from Charity Navigator, and they allow people to donate as a tribute to another person. And I want to donate as a tribute to one of YOU!

I will announce the winner next Monday.

Thanks so much for participating, and remember to be thankful for what you have in your life right now, no matter how bad things can get. And we all can do something to help others who need it most.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sheena-kay Graham said...

I'm thankful for books, I love being transported to different worlds and seeing life through another person's eyes using my own imagination. Cool facts and I did not know the yo-yo and karaoke came from there. Sad about the typhoon but glad your family's safe Jay.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I imagine your grandfather didn't talk about his time in the war.
I'd like to thank them for inventing the yo-yo - hours of fun. And I probably smacked someone with it a few times.
I am thankful for the kindness of people and the moments when God's love and generosity shine through them.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thank you for sharing all those facts, and I'm glad your family and friends are all okay.

I'm thankful for this moment - for sitting at my desk, drinking hot coffee, connecting with all my blogging buddies.

Jay Noel said...

Sheena: I'm thankful for books too!

Alex: Peoples' kindness can be inspirational. Hopefully we see more of that this Christmas season.

Madeline: Yup, thankful for my blogging buddies too!

Elise Fallson said...

What a horrible disaster, but I'm glad to hear your family is ok.
I'm thankful to all the caring and loving people in my life that remind me there's always light in the darkest of times.

Miranda Hardy said...

Your grandfather lived through a very rough period. Wow!

I'm thankful for so many family, my health, my pets, my job, and my friends.

Jay Noel said...

Elise: Where would we all be without our loved ones? Good one.

Miranda: Yup, he did. But he still had a sense of humor that often got him in trouble.

Julie Dao said...

This is truly a terrible disaster, and I'm very happy that your family is okay. I've donated, and given money to friends and family in Hawaii who have been filling shopping carts of food to send over to those in need, and it feels really good to pitch, in whatever small way I can. Thanks for sharing those fun facts - I had no idea karaoke was invented there!

Pat Dilloway said...

Compared to what's going on in the Philippines I guess there's a lot to be thankful for.

Jay Noel said...

Julie: That's awesome, Julie. Every little thing we can do does help.

Pat: Yeah, and we had 70 tornadoes here in the Midwest yesterday. The destruction is just so horrible. My gazebo got destroyed, but I'm not upset about it at all. My "loss" in nothing compared to the losses by others in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, and in the Philippines.

Pk Hrezo said...

Awesome thing to do Jay!! So heartbreaking what's happening over there. They're in my prayers.

I'm thankful for my children. I can't imagine a life without them. I'd be forever empty.

David P. King said...

Been reading up on what's happened over there. Words can't tell how horrible it is, but it's times like this that show how we are able to provide help to others in need. Thanks for doing this, Jay! :)

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Typhoon Haiyan was something else. It breaks my heart to see these people suffering so. My state has sent over quite a bit of relief and I donated some to that end.

Jay Noel said...

PK: I'm thankful for my kiddos too, most of the time.

David: Yes, the giving part gives me hope for this world.

Michael: Thanks so much for your generosity. And the same people were already dealing with massive earthquakes in October.

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for my family. They've put up with me for a long time so that makes them pretty awesome. I'm also thankful for my nephews because they love so easily and make the world a brighter place.

I'm thankful there are people like you, Jay, in the world. Proud to call you friend. This is the best contest ever.

I'm also thankful for Red Velvet Cake black tea because it's tasty caffeine and I need that right now.

Robin said...

I am thankful that I am seeing an improvement with my migraines. I reached a place where I really thought constant pain was going to be my life for as long as I breathed. Now, I can see that isn't so. The road may be long to reach a place where migraines don't consume my life, but it is possible and worth traveling.

Jay Noel said...

Riann: Family is important all year long, but it's especially great to get together with with during the holidays. Even if the stress levels get a bit high. And thanks so much!

Robin: That's great. I know so many that suffer from migraines. How did you alleviate them?

Dana said...

This is wonderful, Jay! I'm thankful for my kids—soon to be three of them. :) They're my world. ☺

Crystal Collier said...

Jay, this is totally awesome. Way to do something truly great. My brother in law lived in the Philippines for a couple years, and my grandfather fought in the war as a pilot. He often cites his time there, how he wondered if he would ever have the privilege of raising a family. So that's it for me--I'm most grateful for my family. (All of it.)

Arlee Bird said...

Very interesting facts about the Philippines. I recall back in the 70's I related to some of my friends about the yo-yo having been originally developed as a weapon and we got into a rather humorous conversation stemming from that topic. The world would be a less violent place if armies used yo-yos instead of all the weapons they have now.

It's good to see the aid coming to those people who need it. That typhoon was a great tragedy.

I'm thankful for every blessing I have in life--far too many to enumerate here.

Wrote By Rote

Morgan said...

I am thankful for doctors. Without them... well, I can't even go there. :)

Wonderful post, Jay. You are wonderful. :D

Mark Noce said...

Glad your loved-ones are all okay:) I'd like to visit the Phillipines someday. Growing up in the Bay Area, lots of my classmates spoke Tagalog.

Jay Noel said...

Dana: 3? Have fun! I have 3 kiddos too. They are awesome.

Crystal: My grandfather's actions saved a few American G.I.'s lives, and hopefully they got to raise families of their own. It's cool to think that there are people out there who are here because my grandfather was a hero.

Arlee: The yo-yo weapon was pretty brutal. Had razors and stuff on it! Brutal, but at least it couldn't inflict damage to a wide area like, say, a bomb.

Morgan: Yes. Doctors. I owe my life to a couple of them too. Thanks so much, Red.

Mark: Oh yeah. California is Filipino capital of the US. I'd like to go back.

M Pax said...

I'm thankful my sick cat is better this morning. I've thankful to have family I love that keep me up all night worrying when they aren't well.

Yo yos as weapons? I love that.

The 7000 islands must make logistics for getting help where it's needed very difficult.

J.L. Campbell said...

Not sure what happened, but I think Google ate my comment. Thankful for family and home. Those are some interesting facts, half of which I never knew. Lots of people suffering. Hard to imagine, but it's reality.

Christine Rains said...

Very interesting facts. I have a couple of net friends who live there, and thankfully they're all okay. What a generous raffle! :) I'm thankful for my son who is happy, healthy, and smart.

Jay Noel said...

Mary: Glad to hear that your cat is getting better! Yes, transport of food and medical supplies isn't easy over there.

J.L. Suffering out here in the Midwest from tornadoes. I'm lucky the house is ok, but my gazebo is another matter.

Christine: Relief that your Filipino friends are okay. Your son is SO CUTE with his glasses. Looks like a little professor.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I am thankful the tornados didn't reach us yesterday. One of our school organizations are raising funds around here. I can't imagine the sheer helplessness of those poor people.

M. J. Joachim said...

I am thankful for my family. They're just the best!

On another note, I've been to the Philippines a few times when I was a kid. It's an amazing place and I remember the little wooden yo-yo's dad used to bring home from there, when the kids didn't get to tag along for his trips there. It's hard to believe so much has happened there recently … lots of prayers being offered, thankful for the outpouring of help for all those in need too.

Mark Koopmans said...

I'm thankful for my Filipina wife and our three beautiful boys - they really do complete me :)

Just realized I wasn't following you officially, so that's taken care of :)

PS: Thanks for highlighting this horrible disaster and for sharing some very interesting tidbits about the P.I. :)

(Thanks also for joining the list to roast Lee :)

Cynthia said...

I'm relieved to hear that your family members are safe. After hearing the sad news, I emailed a few of my friends with family in the Philippines to ask if their family members overseas are doing okay, and fortunately, it appears that my friends' family members are currently doing okay too.

I'm not sure if someone had already mentioned this in your comments, but I just wanted to share about this auction called Authors for the Philippines ( It's a fundraiser for the relief efforts.

I'm always thankful for my family.

Rusty Webb said...

The typhoon was stunning and terrible. When reading about it near the time of landfall I had this horrible sense of dread over the devastation that was coming. I'm very happy your loved ones are safe.

I'm thankful, above all, for my health and the health of my loved ones. Beyond that, it's all gravy.

Oh, and I'm not going to enter to have the donation in my name. I feel... I don't know... not unworthy, or bad, or anything like that... more like I feel like I'd be getting credit for something unearned - throw in the mix that it's part of a tragedy this large and I just can't.

But my heart goes out to everyone. Thanks for your contribution and willingness to help.

The Desert Rocks said...

So glad all your relatives are safe Jay. I'm thankful for my sister. She was a bonus and had to live in one of those incubators when she was born. She was a two pound twin and almost didn't make it. I'm so glad she survived.

Gina Gao said...

Thanks for sharing all these facts! I'm glad to hear that your family is safe.

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