Remember the imbroglio two years ago during the immediate aftermath of Haiyan/Yolanda, when Korina Sanchez called out Anderson Cooper of CNN, claiming his reporting was biased and disrespectful? The hero of that moment was Geraldine Uy Wong, who was in Tacloban, saw what was happening, and wrote a passionate post on Facebook, addressing it to Anderson Cooper and confirming that what he was reporting was accurate. See this link to refresh your memory. Geraldine’s example of heartfelt citizen journalism was one of the most important moments of the immediate aftermath of the typhoon that decimated the central Philppines — especially Leyte and our home province of Samar.
[[Don’t forget to share on Facebook and forward this post to Anderson Cooper on Twitter at @andersoncooper and @AC360.]]
I’ve gotten to know Geraldine and I am absolutely certain that she is not someone who in any way sought attention or celebrity status — but she had the heart and spirit to speak out. Since then, she has continued to be a voice for sanity, compassion, and resilience — and now, with the two year anniversary of Haiyan (Yolanda) upon us, she has drafted a compelling message to Anderson Cooper and published it on her facebook page. So now the next step is — how to make sure Anderson Cooper sees it. I and others are going to work on that. But everyone can help by sharing it. It’s picking up views and shares on facebook, and as I write today, updating the post about twelve hours after I put it up, it’s approaching 1000 shares here as well. Please get the word out.
One additional thought: As I see it, the value of Anderson Cooper coming to the Philippines has nothing to do with him being an American. The value is that he’s a journalist who, if you don’t know, played a key role in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated that city and exposed the inadequacies of the government’s response. He went there during the storm, and he went back — “keeping them honest” as he says. The going back part was really important — as it would be important in the Philippines after Yolanda. It’s a human story, and a human tragedy — and it’s still going on. His vlaue is that he is a credible, compassionate journalist who if he comes will shine an unblinking light on a situation, speak truth to power, just as Geraldine has done, and help raise global awareness that two years on, the situation has not been resolved and people are still suffering.
First of all — here is the first part of the text of Geraldine’s message:
Dear Anderson Cooper:
It’s been 2 years so I wanted to say hello. Of course, you know this is more than just that. But this time, I will TRY to be brief and sweet. Please come back and visit us. There is no better time than now. First of all, APEC will be held here in the Philippines – CNN and everyone will be here to cover. I’m sure you have the clout to ask your bosses to send you over to rub shoulders with Obama, Putin, and our very own PNoy. And while you’re here you might want to take a side trip to visit Tacloban. You said so yourself, remember? You promised those people back then that you will come back one day and check on them. I have gone back to Tacloban myself since that time. Glad to report that thay have their smiles back on now, only because they are one of the most resilient people in the world, right? Sad to tell you though, that most of them still live in crappy bunk houses and transitional shelters. Those that were able to move into real honest-to-goodness decent housing were sponsored by the UN, NGO’s, religious groups, and private citizen donors. As I write this, only 572 permanent houses have been built by our beloved government out of the 14,000 that they promised. Where did all the international donations go? The ones whose figures ran to unending zeroes in dollar currency that we ordinary citizens could not even calculate, read, nor fathom how global humanity could have poured such expressions of love and sympathy to us? We don’t know, you tell us Anderson. We have come to the point of exhaustion when it comes to asking and finding out the truth. Finding out and exposing the truth – CNN and Anderson Cooper ace those skills so you are practically our only hope for now. Last time you spoke on our behalf, the whole world listened, our government chafed in embarrassment, Korina Sanchez bristled, and even I had to reach out to you to say my piece. Just look at it this way, if you come back and do your thing, you will be completing a big part of the jigsaw puzzle of your life, knowing that you have fulfilled a destiny that the universe has assigned to you. There – I just had to get that off my chest.
So now I come to the part why I really had to write you. Again. You see lately, we have been getting screwed up by a bunch of aliens assigned at the international airport here in Manila. I’m not sure if you have ever passed by our airport because the last time, you might have flown in and out through CNN’s private aircraft and landed straight in Tacloban. But yes, we are having those extra-terrestrial invasion problems right now. It is a festering source of national irritation that has smoldered in our hearts for the past weeks now and it is threatening to implode right in our faces. Travelers coming in and out of the country have been caught with bullets inside their luggage or hand-carried bags. Just one bullet – no gun. Every person who got caught has had to undergo the harrowing experience of being escorted to a room, interrogated by a bunch of master aliens, and having to decide which of the 2 options – succumbing to extortion or missing their flights and being detained – would be the lesser of the two evils. A greater majority would shell out money in quiet indignation just so as not to mess up their travel plans and their entire lives altogether. After all, this is small money compared to the hassle of hiring a lawyer, appearing in court, languishing in jail, etc. – you know how it works. I don’t blame them; I know I would do the same thing and just blast away at them on my facebook wall later on. But the others who ‘didn’t know any better’, those that either refused to pay up, or were too naive to think that arguing to defend their innocence will put them in good stead – they are now detained and facing a case. The saddest part here is that most of the victims are the Filipino OFW’s, translated as Overseas Filipino Workers, the members of the Filipino diaspora who are spread out all over the world in tens of millions as we speak. They leave the country and go out to work and slave away literally with their blood, sweat, and tears, and send money back home to their families. I have spoken with a lot of them in my travels, and their stories are so heart-wrenching both in terms of the courage they bear and the sheer magnitude of the sacrifice that they do. It makes my blood boil just to even write this. Makes me want to ask the syndicate – why don’t you take on me instead? So I can call on my friends both on the left and on the right, hah! One of those currently detained for the past two weeks and counting is Nanay Gloria, Nanay being the respectful term for an elderly woman, meaning ‘Mother’. She is a Filipina domestic worker who has been working as an OFW for the past 30 years now, the past 13 years of which she has served as a domestic helper for a family in Hong Kong. She came home for a vacation and on her way back to this same employer, was victimized by this syndicate, and since then has been the poster girl for this evil twist of fate that has befallen our country. And it is not enough that these aliens, oh for God’s sakes, let’s just call them Filipino airport personnel, just victimize our own people – after all, we Filipinos have somehow mastered the art of taking up our own. But they have had the audacity to victimize even the tourists and foreign travelers too! You have one of your own on record here, an American missionary at that! This is going to hurt like hell for our tourism, our economy, and God knows what else.
So please come back Anderson, I beg of you.
And here is the link to the rest of it on Facebook. As long as you’re logged in to FB — you can read it all there.
Now the next issue — how to get this to Anderson Cooper’s actual attention.
Working on it.
Don’t forget to share on Facebook and forward this post to Anderson Cooper on Twitter at @andersoncooper and @AC360.