I am one of 13,865 Filipinos living in our newspaper’s coverage area, so news of a typhoon in a country already drowning in political corruption definitely hits home.
Thankfully, none of my relatives are among the 383 people in the Philippines who lost their lives to the typhoon that gusted up to 210 kilometres per hour last month. However, the house where I grew up is in shambles, with no working refrigerator, stove or washing machine.
While conversations of various relief efforts flood the Filipino community and restaurants in our coverage area, in this case I fail to relate to the idea that tragedy brings out the best in people.
If anything, my negative perceptions of Philippine corruption are intensified.
I hear of our president who, nearing the end of her tumultuous and controversial term, spent a good sum of reserved government relief funds on “investment” trips in North America before the typhoon hit.
I hear people subtly boast about how they “kindly donated money and clothes” to victims of the storm. Unfortunately, when I hear a Filipino man proudly tell a reporter about how wonderfully our community has responded to the tragedy, I simply cannot share in feeling a genuine sense of pride for their goodwill.
If you are doing something good purely for the sake of doing something good, why do you need to broadcast what you “kindly” did? Shouldn’t you be content with the knowledge that you helped someone? Why should praise from other people matter when they are not the ones you’re helping?
Giving material and moral support to people whose lives have been drastically changed by a merciless storm is something we universally recognize as praiseworthy.
Indeed, doing so is valiant.
But far too often such ideals have been exploited for the sake of greed and profit. The danger of donating to pseudo-Filipino charities is so real that I’d much rather trust an established non-Filipino Canadian organization.
The fact that I know I’m not the only Filipino-Canadian living here who does not trust Filipino charities is a calamity in itself.