Down but not out

Yesterday I watched Manny Pacquiao school Brandon Rios in a bar packed full of Filipinos in Manila, everyone screaming and shouting every time he landed a punch, their voices together, united.

It seemed almost fitting that Pacquiao, the prodigal son of the Philippines, the pride of the nation, should win just over two weeks after the tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan devastated and destroyed certain parts of the country, to show that he’s still got that fighting spirit.

After his surprise knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez last December, he wanted to fight back, to show that he’s down but not out, and I think parallels can be drawn with the whole of the Philippines.

Much like Pacquiao, the Philippines was dealt a knockout blow when Typhoon Haiyan hit on the 8th November, and like Pacquiao, the people’s ability to pick themselves up, to show that they can still find the positives despite the negatives all around them is astounding.

Not too sure whether to come or not, I arrived in the Philippines the day after the typhoon hit.

It was evident from the start that things on ground level weren’t as bad in certain areas as they were being portrayed to be by international media.

The two biggest cities, Manila and Cebu, were hardly damaged by the typhoon, and all of it superficial. However, that’s not to say that they didn’t feel the anguish and pain of areas such as Tacloban and Malapascua that were worst affected.

Every time someone spoke about the typhoon and the number of dead, they talked as if they’d lost their own flesh and blood; obviously in some cases they had.

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Immediately people pulled together, and you could already see on that first day aid trying to get out to the people who needed it the most.

People really wanted to help out knowing that this wasn’t your normal catastrophe, and two weeks since the typhoon first hit there are already shoots of recovery through the people’s power to pull together.

For example, Malapascua, an island that was completely levelled, is once again open to tourists with businesses trying their best to resume normality.

Obviously it’ll take time – a lot of the cuts are still red raw – but it’s important for us to show faith.

I have absolutely no doubt that thousands of people changed their plans in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, and I’m not saying whether that’s right or wrong, but it’s times like these that the economy is crying out for a little boost; often that can be through tourism.

Every now and then, we have to resume normality before normality may be resumed.

So, if you’re thinking of taking a trip to the Philippines in the next six months or so, and you’re not too sure whether to go or not, you should show a little faith; you’ll be rewarded far more than if it was just a ‘normal’ holiday.

Much like Pacquiao, the Philippines may be down, but it’s certainly not out. In fact, it’s already fighting back, and in words of the famous Filipino, “we will rise again.”