They say that you only see somebody’s real character when they are really up against it.  This is also true of  a group of people,  The British often talk about the Blitz Spirit in the dark months of 1940-41 when the Germans bombed London (and many other cities) for 76 nights consecutively .

Well a relative newcomer like myself cannot help but be impressed with the people of Manila. This morning, the death toll has risen to 20 (according to USA Today and the Manila Informer) and my companions have told me the number will keep rising, with some fatalities never to be reported.  In spite of this, everyone just seems to pick themselves up and get on with life.  Standing on the roof at 7 this morning, looking Southwesterly over a large chunk of MetroManila, you could hear a symphony of scraping noises,  a myriad of people with brushes and pans out on the streets cleaning away leaves, branches and the various detritus that Pedring had dumped.  Schools are open again, the motorised tricycles swarming about looking for passengers and the horn-blowing jeepneys asserting themselves on the city streets that were abandoned yesterday.

Some people claim that this was the worst typhoon for 14 years – others point towards typhoon Ondoy a couple of years ago, when the local river the Marikani rose to 23ms breaking its banks and flooding the low lying shanty settlementswere.  There were many local casualties as the waters rose .  Last night – with much of the city suffering a blackout – I lay in bed listening to the torrential rain, feeling absolutely powerless.  We had the diesel generator running most of the night, due to the infirmary three floors below.  This allowed you sporadically to monitor the river levels via twitter and the announcements of MMDA – Manilas Development Authority.    26,000 people were moved to evacuation centers when the river rose to 19m at about 8pm.   It carried on rising but much more slowly, so it was a relief to follow the announcements on Twitter of the flood waters beginning to subside around 3am ish.  In spite of the power cuts and phones being down it was interesting to see how much you could monitor what was going on through social media – check this very interesting blog for an in-depth account.

So to finish with a Philipino proverb in Tagalog – after witnessing todays heroic and quiet resolve :

Matibay ang Walis palibhasa’y magkabigkis   A broom is sturdy because its strands are  tightly bound

and if you object to me quoting Tagalog (which I don’t know how to speak!)…. then remember He who does not love the national language is worse than a smelly fish!!!

Appeal from the Red Cross in the Phillipines  http://www.redcross.org.ph/donatenow