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that reside in the northern part of the country, far from Haiyan’s direct path. It wasn’t until I started seeing some of my closest friends, whom I consider to be my “heart sisters,” start asking for prayers (since their parents, siblings, and other immediate family members reside in Cebu and surrounding areas) that I took a real interest. Then it became very personal to me, as I saw them internalize their fears, their thoughts, and even their tears. One person reached out to me via social media, asking for prayers in the aftermath of the storm as he has not heard from his family. I stayed glued to the television, even researched Philippine news online known for “uncensored” reporting. Then, I started my journey to forming a benefit concert that took a life of its own after the second evening following the storm. I found myself on my knees, crying for people I didn’t know, and whispering one line: “help me help them.” What immediately followed was what I call “The Miracle Journey.” It became the very vessel that propelled me to take action and bring a community together, to bridge some of the gaps that existed in silos between different organizations, to eventually become the voice of those unheard and half–way around the globe with stories unpublished by media. The connections and dotted lines eventually led to a positive impact on the lives of others. UniPro  What was the most significant

challenge you faced post–typhoon? What were your main concerns for the Philippines? MGM  One that continues to be a challenge is creating the continued awareness, urgency, and understanding that help will be needed for a long time. Long after the media has moved on to the next big thing, some of us residing half– way around the globe continue to be involved in helping those who needs us. Also, how do we break the cycle of “competitiveness” that exists in our very culture towards a common purpose? Believe me, I faced that even when I was not associated with specific organizations. The first question I was usually asked was, “How much did you raise (because my

organization raised this much)?” Needless to say, people were focused on the wrong things. It created the opportunity for me to speak on the platform of unity, true intentions and the value of humanitarianism. In fact, when leaders came to find out about “The Miracle Journey” of One Night One Voice, I was met with almost disbelief. It’s almost unheard of to pull together an event or fundraiser without a single penny being spent, or the bells and whistles that usually draws the crowds, but that’s exactly what took place. And to see the collaboration of different organizations work together while global leaders step in… again, it’s a rare moment, but it happened. My main concern for my home country is the corruption that exist from the local to high levels, which commonly exists in other “third–world countries” or whenever a major disaster occurs. UniPro  How would you describe the Aquino

Administration’s actions in the aftermath of the storm? How can disaster response and relief efforts be improved in the Philippines? MGM  My personal opinion? I would like to believe there are a few good souls out there trying to fight the good fight, but this is outweighed by those with very selfish intentions, bad publicity and corruption. There were those moments that made me cringe as we watched the victims of the storm hopelessly wait for help that was very slow to respond, while others suffered due to lack of it. Watching media coverage of the “song and dance routine” and the complete disconnect that officials had of what was happening on the ground was beyond aggravating and disheartening during the first few weeks after the storm. It starts with a higher sense of personal accountability and humanitarian focus from the top and down. An internal look of everything that went wrong and restructuring a more organized first response action within national and local governments is necessary. With all the financial assistance that has poured in, rebuilding devastated areas,  10

Profile for Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro)

UniPro Now: Volume 4  

UniPro Now: Volume 4  

Profile for unipronow