The Survivors and the Responders’ Pre-Christmas Story

World Vision Communicator, Florence Joy reflects with a traditional Christmas song in mind. Each verse reminiscent of the everyday resiliency she sees in the lives of the survivors.

People making list, buying special gifts




I think of them now.  I know they do have their list of what they wish for and what they hope to give.  But after Typhoon Haiyan took almost everything they had, they can only do so much. 




Taking time to be kind to one and all


It’s the time of year when good friends are near


And you wish you could give more than just present from the store




It’s 10 in the evening.  I see the Christmas lights we joyfully bought and put in the Christmas tree last night.  That was a blast.  We had fun singing and decorating the staff house. There are times when we lose track of time and it is hard to sometimes think that we’re a day closer to Christmas.  That was a good break from those many long days.




We asked for each other’s wish.  Many hoped to be with their families but we know it’s not possible.  Some will be staying for the relief operation.  This is our world, but I guess, there’s no getting used to it.




I look around now.   My World Vision colleagues are still here: after field work comes paper works.  I write this diary and I realize the kindness of their hearts.  They should be in their own homes by now, spending time with their loved ones.  I know. They, too, have their list but what they do not have is time to personally give their gifts. 




People you don't know, smiling out hello
Everywhere there's an air of Christmas joy…


Everywhere.  Even in an Evacuation Center.  I was almost in tears when Anabel, an area leader talked about the story of the Christmas tree outside her tent.  She saw and took it while it was on fire, hence, the black color.  She said that she wanted her children to feel the normalcy they’ve always known every Christmas.  When her neighbors saw it, they started cutting used plastic bottles for decoration.  It would have been hard to believe but I saw it.  I saw how they, despite their situation anticipate Christmas.  I saw how they walked in the darkness from the evacuation center to the church just to attend the 1st day of Simbang Gabi.  I know because I was there at 3:30am and I was with them. I was there when after the mass, they, as a community, adorned the tree while children hang their wish cards.  I rejoiced with them when they put on the only decoration they bought for what they call their Wishing Christmas Tree - the star lantern.  You could have seen how the mothers shed a tear when the star was face-to-face with the heavens.  That was one of the many moments I thanked God I am a communicator (never mind the many sleepless nights and long hours of travel) where I get to witness the strength of my countrymen. 




The air of Christmas joy.  It was even more than that.  They didn’t know me.  I never knew them personally.  But Anabel called me ‘anak’ (daughter) and I called her ‘nanay’ (mother).  I will never forget that.




Why don't you give love on Christmas day 
The man on the street and the couple upstairs
All need to know there’s someone who cares


The man on the street and the couple upstairs.  Our version would be, the survivors in the tents and the responders in the staff house.  We each have our pre-Christmas story.  I look at the sky sometimes and comfort myself by thinking that my family and I are still under the same sky.  We’re never really apart.  Loneliness sometimes creeps in especially for our married colleagues, but each trying moment is met by the warmth of each other’s company.  Somehow, in the past weeks, we have become each other’s home.




Give love on Christmas day 
No greater gift is there than love


It’s 12:45am.  I can no longer write straight.  I had to find another inspiration.  I watched the video I just finished for our Panay Team’s Christmas video.  I found my way to end this. 




The families didn’t have expensive Christmas tree but they have love.  They won’t celebrate Christmas in the house they knew all their lives but they have love.  They are overflowing with love and they have given me of it.  And I am grateful.




Same for us, responders.  We may be far from our house, we may be far from our families but that doesn’t mean we’re not home.  We came to love the areas assigned to us and where there is love, even in rubbles and in a far away land, I believe, with all my heart, Jesus will be born. 




And it will still be Christmas, afterall. 



Florence Joy Maluyo / Development Communications Specialist / World Vision