More often than not, we try to put on a full-on Thanksgiving Feast in our home, even if Mrs. MM and I haven’t lived in the U.S. for decades. In recent years, we managed 3 or 4 consecutive Thanksgivings in New York with family. But this year, the day has zoomed up on us totally unprepared. Or maybe just distracted with everything going on post-earthquake and post-storm. I briefly toyed with the idea of buying some sliced turkey and a can of cranberry jelly to make some wawa Thanksgiving sandwiches for lunch, but the Teen axed that idea… We will hold off the celebratory meal (I do like turkey at least once a year!) until another day.
But at breakfast this morning, in the Radisson Hotel Cebu, I thought about Thanksgiving and I watched as nearly a dozen strapping Englishmen in army fatigues (not sure if they were Army or Airforce, or whatever, you get the visual) hit the buffet for a hearty breakfast. A few days before, I rode in the elevator with members of the Danish Emergency Response Team, we ran into the Israelis while distributing aid in Bogo before that, and the night before I watched as 6 members of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) ate heartily at Zubuchon Escario Central after a day in Leyte, they have been here for two weeks already. I have watched as dozens of jumbo jets from around the world (Saudi, Singapore, Indonesia, KLM, el al, airlines I have NEVER even heard off) disgorged millions of pounds of aid at the Cebu airport, and Australian military cargo transports, American helicopters, and other aircraft populate the once barren tarmac. Up North, we ran into Germans headed to Bantayan, Oxfam distributions, the Red Cross, and yesterday, FINALLY, spotted our first DSWD truck filled with goods (I am sure there were dozens of others) but it’s the first time we saw them in places we had visited. And I thought, the really critical thing to be thankful for today is that after the earthquake and the storm, ALL OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE COME TO OUR ASSISTANCE. They come from near and far, and they are doing whatever they can to make things better. I am extremely grateful for the assistance the world has provided to the Visayas region in the aftermath of the storm.
I am thankful that despite the catastrophic impact of the storm, and thousands of deaths and missing, that it wasn’t worse. I am thankful that Filipinos, from all walks of life, have done an incredible job themselves of taking matters into their own hands, raising funds, volunteering in whatever capacity they can, sending relief goods, parting with hard-earned money and just pulling together like I have rarely seen a population of tens of millions of people pull together.
Yes, there is a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am especially grateful for marketmanila.com readers, Zubuchon patrons, friends and family that responded to our call for help and as a result, we have been able to deliver over 200,000 meals worth of aid in Northern Cebu, Culion Palawan and evacuation centers for Leyte residents in Cebu. They are simple meals, some would say inadequate meals, but we got them to folks who needed them most, and pretty darned quickly at that. Now the far more expensive and arduous task of rebuilding begins. Thank you, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL of you who celebrate the holiday!