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Lessons in Gratitude from Tacloban Philippines

I know I’ve often heard the word resilient when people refer to the Filipinos after typhoon Yolanda, but the word that resonated more with me on the trip was grateful.

Before leaving for Tacloban, I wondered what it was going to be like without wifi. And when we arrived, no wifi was actually the least of our worries considering there wasn’t any electricity where we were staying. We took cold, bucket showers. We slept on the floor while being attacked by giant rats and giant cockroaches since the windows were blown out. We were all kept awake by the symphony of roosters crowing at all hours and the sound of a freight train coming out of a certain somebody’s nose. As difficult as it all was for us, we knew it was only temporary. In ten days, we would be back in the comfort of our beds laughing about how this was all a great bonding experience for the team.

Unfortunately for the people who remain in Tacloban, this is their reality and will be for some time. They are rebuilding. Some homes are beginning to get electricity back. Businesses are re-opening. But rebuilding is a process. Not once did we hear anyone complain. Not once did we hear anyone say that they wish they had died. And for whatever it was that they had left, they were truly grateful, even if it happened to be only their lives.

The Rebuilding of Tacloban Philippines:

The rebuilding of tacloban philippines. Our relief trip to Cebu, Ormoc, and Tacloban Philippines.Pin

There’s a lot we can learn from them. About gratitude. About hope. About community.

I’m learning a profound lesson on how gratitude has less to do with circumstances and more to do with attitude. This isn’t just by reading some quote on a bumper sticker, but I’m thankful for meeting people who live it out. We met so many amazing people on the trip, and I have the privilege of sharing their stories with you. I’m still sifting through and unpacking my thoughts, but I hope to share them over the next few weeks.

I really hate asking repeatedly, but please consider making a donation to heart philippines. They still need a lot of medical supplies.

This is week 21 of practicing gratitude on my blog. You can see all my other gratitude posts by clicking on the banner:
These are lessons we learned from Tacloban Philippines. This is week 21 of practicing gratitude.Pin
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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Jerlyn Guisando Flores

    Hi Esther. I came into your blog by watching Fu Music on YouTube. I am from the Philippines and I greatly appreciate what you did by promoting help for the victims of typhoon Yolanda. How you made your effort and went to our country. Our fellow countrymen are not only rebuilding their homes now but also their lives. Thank you for all your support and help. :)

    1. Hi Jerlyn. It was our pleasure. We really wish there was more that we could do to help. You have a beautiful country and your people are amazing. :)

  2. This is really beautiful, Esther. It’s always so difficult to see disasters like this up close and personal and I love that the experience is giving you a silver lining–in learning a more profound meaning of gratitude.

    1. esther julee

      Thanks @amyclubnarwhal:disqus! it was also strange that the people of tacloban also seemed genuinely happier than the ones in cebu, which was not hit badly. I wonder if it’s facing death or having to see it all around you that makes you more grateful or realize what’s most important in life. I feel like a lot of them are living as if they were given a second chance.

  3. toni d.

    And again, thank you for going there and helping out. It’s a little sad that they’ve kind of been forgotten already as soon as Christmas came around.

    1. esther julee

      yeah.. i know i’m a pretty selfish person too.. but it sometimes gets discouraging trying to have conversations with people.

    2. esther julee

      this never went through earlier.. but i guess it’s up to us to spread awareness!

  4. ‘symphony of roosters’ and ‘freight train’ from someone’s nose….

    some powerful imagery right there. your writing is beginning to blossom… =) loved this post and look forward to the rest. =)

    1. esther julee

      haha I really tried. I could still use some more pointers.

    2. shoutingchow

      i agree! i was thinking the same thing :)

      1. esther julee

        thanks!! :) maybe reading @searchingforsubstance:disqus’s posts are rubbing off on me!

      2. esther julee

        thanks! maybe reading @searchingforsubstance:disqus posts are rubbing off on me!

        1. shoutingchow

          both of y’all are great writers! i hope i’ll become just as good one day …

          1. esther julee

            maybe we should try to take a writing class.. or be in a writing club like sophia!

          2. shoutingchow

            haha i think i need to work on my grammar first … go back to the basics …

  5. Melinda DiOrio

    Wow, talk about a good reason to be grateful. Just seeing that one image is so powerful. When I read that you slept with rats and giant cockroaches, my immediate reaction was – I couldn’t do that! But what a good point, that you guys were just doing it for 10 days, while for the people that live there this has become a way of everyday life. Powerful post, and it’s so wonderful that you and your team traveled there to help out.

    1. esther julee

      It’s been harder to complain coming back… even though I know it’s always on the tip of my tongue! Yeah the rats and cockroaches are probably my worst nightmare. I used to joke that if I went to hell, my version would have all sorts of bugs attacking me. It’s actually kind of a miracle that I made it through the 10 days. haha My husband was really surprised too.

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