Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gisela Santos is so cool and there's more like her where she comes from

So ok, everybody's probably heard of that Filipina working in the UAE who posted disparaging comments about the flood victims on her FB page . She, or someone, has since posted a disclaimer saying that somebody else was responsible. Too much negativity, so enough on that already.

Let me tell you instead about another Filipina working in the UAE. Her name is Gisela Santos. I'm proud to be her friend.

Shortly after the extent of Ondoy's devastation become apparent - Gise - together with her friends - Serge Gregorio, Franklin Naval, Thomas Pestaño, Kaye Domingo, Jun Verzola, Eric Pestaño Smith, Vince Yamat and Jordana Calit - realized that so much information was being shared, but that it wasn’t being collated in one place.

Wanting to do something to help their countrymen even while based outside the Philppines, they established a Google “Ondoy situation map for Metro Manila”.

Realizing the urgency of the situation, the group acted immediately. Conceptualization, mobilization and execution took only a matter of hours. The site became a critical reference point for rescue workers, relief organizations and volunteers by pinpointing reports from all over the metropolis, so that , the media and officials could have a reference point to figure out what, exactly, was happening —and where help was most needed.

Theirs is not an isolated story. We've heard countless reports of other Filipinos - from all walks of life - rising to the ocassion and doing whatever they can to help. You might even be one of them.

Manuel Quezon writes about the Filipino sense of community and volunteerism in his regular Inquirer column.

These stories are so humbling but also inspiring. I am so proud of my countrymen.

There are of course other people from whom we had expected more but then again - they will have their time of reckoning. Maybe the next typhoon will wash them away.

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