Friday, November 15, 2013


Have you heard about a super typhoon that wreaked havoc in the Philippines? Typhoons and hurricanes are not rare for the Philippines so I thought this was just like any other typhoons. Apparently, it was not a case this time. The level of destruction seems to be even worse than the tsunami which hit Aceh in 2004.

Why am I suddenly bothered by this? About 2 days ago, my colleague informed me that there was a maid crying and requesting for diazepam. The woman was crying so perhaps my colleague did not really understand what she wanted. When I heard the word "maid", I thought this would be another difficult case of perhaps a maid getting abused by the employer and forced to get diazepam now. Still, I think it is quite rude and racist to label any Filipino as "maid".

I brought her to somewhere quiet and trying to find out what was going on. She was literally in tears telling me that her relatives were in Tacloban, a city worst hit by the typhoon. She just got a phone call from her sister there. She wanted diazepam for her niece who had difficulty sleeping due to all the shock and trauma. One of her relatives would be coming over from Australia via Singapore and back to the Philippines so if she could get the medicine, she would pass it over to her relatives. She told me how bad the condition was: no vehicle, no electricity, the hospitals were literally paralysed, etc. She even showed me a large bag of candles that she bought to send over.

Unfortunately, there was nothing that I could do to help her because diazepam requires a prescription. I told her as much as I wanted to help her, I would be going to jail if I were to give the medicine without a prescription. It never came across my mind that she would have any ill intentions with the medicine as she was not even sure whether her sister wanted 5mg tablet or 5ml injection. When I told her I only had tablets, she said she would even appreciate 2 (yes, TWO) tablets. She was okay with registering as a patient (that would cost her at least $40) if that would be a way to get the diazepam for her niece. I told her that I would try to check with a doctor to see if there was anything we could do.

As expected, it was simply impossible. Not even for a doctor to prescribe a diazepam without seeing the actual patient. I braced myself and expected more tears as I broke the news. Surprisingly, the lady had calmed down. She understood that the law is very strict here and she would not make life difficult for me and the doctor. She knew it was impossible to get but she was desperate and tried to ask to "try her luck". What ultimately touched me was that she was so thankful that I was actually bothered to give her time to listen to her story and to help her asked around to further try her luck. That was quite shocking and left me dumbfounded. I don't know how but I hope everything will be okay for her and her family, as well for all the people affected.

After this, I asked my Filipino colleagues whether they were involved in some fund raising or donation drive activities. I am glad they are as I want to donate my old clothes, my unused white jackets, my old shoes, my old school uniforms, etc. Come to think of it, I feel quite bad in donating these things. I have been wanting to throw these but reluctant because they are still wearable. Yes, I even dream that perhaps some day I will have the chance to wear my old school uniform again. Haha.. But still,  I regard them as "rubbish" and by donating them, it feels as if I am giving rubbish. I know that the things are still wear-able, functional, and I am sure will be useful for the people there but from my point of view, I think my intention is hardly noble at all :(

I went to Lucky Plaza to send over my donation and I am quite impressed that the Filipino community here are so united in helping their fellow countrymen. The donation drive is actually organised by one of the Filipino shipping company. It has a 3-letter name (not DHL) but I can't recall. Kinda amazed with the amount of donations that they had received. My Filipino colleague brought me around to the Filipino eateries that he usually patronises. I think their food is still similar to my taste buds. Haha.. Their desserts are huge and look very sugary. Looking at the Filipinos who work with me, I am amazed how they can be so slim when their food looks so unhealthy. Haha.. It is meant to be a compliment, okay? Nice food are usually the unhealthy ones.

I am usually very particular when it comes to spending my money for phone apps. LINE released "Pray for the Philippines" sticker pack for 50 coins. With all proceeds going for relief effort, it is quite a brainless choice not to purchase. I am disappointed that it only costs 50 coins though :( I mean I will even buy it for their normal 100 coins per sticker pack and that would help the relief effort more.

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