Helping our Philippine friendsLeyte Island in the central Philippines was totally devastated after Super Typhoon Haiyan swept through it on Friday and Saturday. Philippine Red Cross Chairman and CEO Richard Gordon described it as “absolute bedlam.” The monster typhoon left a possible 12,000 people dead and more than 800,000 homeless. The natural disaster has reportedly caused as many as 4.28 million people to suffer direct or indirect damages. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to those who lost their families, neighbors and homes in the cataclysmic typhoon.
The storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded, slammed into the country with maximum wind speeds of 235 miles per hour. Despite the Philippine government’s swift launch of relief operations by dispatching military troops to battered areas and the international community’s efforts to offer aid, local authorities appear to have trouble rescuing and providing aid to survivors.
The best we can do is to extend our warmest sympathies to the victims and their families based on a spirit of humanitarianism to help the country to recover from the disaster as soon as possible. We must mobilize all of our available capabilities, including the swift delivery of food, medicine and drinking water, as well as sending professional rescue teams and doctors. Genuine friendship is established only when you offer aid to others in such vital predicaments. It doesn’t matter whether the helping hands come from our government or the private sector.
When our country was in the middle of the war with North Korea more than six decades ago, the Philippines helped us by sending their troops. Since then, Korea has maintained an even closer relationship with the country through active human exchanges. According to the government’s statistics on foreigners in Korea, as of 2012, 5,959 people from the Philippines were married to Koreans and are living here, while 42,219 were here for work. That is the third-largest number of foreign spouses after Chinese and Vietnamese.
Korea should be a neighbor that is proactive about helping the Philippines. The government must devise effective ways to provide a maximum level of support to the typhoon-stricken people there, including sending civilian aid. At the same time, the government should kick off a humanitarian campaign to encourage those people from the Philippines who are married to Koreans to visit their home country so they can care for their battered families. That’s befitting of the kind of compassion Korea should show.