Dear Charlie and Jack,

 I was going to write you about being Bisaya….but Typhoon Yolanda made me rethink.

 Several days ago, on November 8, Super Typhoon Yolanda (aka Haiyan) struck the central regions of the Philippines, drowned and injured thousands, flattened whole cities and barrios, submerged whole islands.  As if that wasn’t enough, Typhoon Yolanda also exposed the ugly in the country:  government inefficiencies and corruption, shameless self-propaganda by the politicians; political unaccountability.

 A big part of me hesitates to write anything related to Typhoon Yolanda.  Thousands dealt and are still dealing with its devastation while I sit at home, looking at online images of the catastrophe.  Yet, I write you this now because Typhoon Yolanda made me realize something about myself, something that  I hope you, too, would realize about yourselves someday.

 In the wake of Typhoon Yolanda’s disaster, many foreign correspondents and journalists have marveled that those Filipinos who lost loved ones still managed to play the guitar and sing their favorite pop songs.  They wondered how those who do not have food to eat could play street basketball (or cheer for their neighbor’s basketball team), while surrounded by unclaimed dead bodies and ruined buildings.  How are the affected Filipinos able to still smile?  the whole world wants to know.

 Some say it’s the Filipinos’ fatalistic attitude.  The country is always dealing with something unpleasant at any given moment– typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, drought, landslides, corrupt politicians, inefficient government– that Filipinos have supposedly learned to shrug their shoulders and say “Bahala Na (Whatever!)”.  Nothing shakes them badly enough to break their spirit.

 Some say it’s the Filipino’s inborn resilience.  They get pummeled, by natural or man-made disasters, and yet, like the bamboo, after they sway and bend with the offensive forces, they almost always come back upright, ready for more.

Either way, the Filipinos always manage to survive and move on, even with a guitar on hand.

 So, are Filipinos innately resilient or have they been shaped by the various forces they’ve had to deal with due to their unique geographic situation?  I don’t know.  What I do know, what I have realized since Typhoon Yolanda, is that I am Filipino and that this resilience (or fatalism, either way, it doesn’t matter to me) is the legacy that has been passed on to me, that has shaped me into how I am now.

 I hope one day you will realize that this is my legacy to you, as well.

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