As everyone knows, Japan was hit by a massive 9.0 earthquake and an even deadlier tsunami last week. Many of us watched the tragic events unfold live in our TV screens or listened to the radio for updates that fateful Friday afternoon. For the first time in history, the whole world witnessed in real time how the tsunami propagated from the ocean into the land, wiping out everything — buildings, cars, and trees — in a torrent of muddy water and debris. The level of destruction is unprecedented.
The death toll, now in the thousands, is still climbing. In the town of Minami-sanriku, about 10,000 people are unaccounted for. To make things worse, three explosions have already rocked the Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, threatening the area with radioactive contamination.
My brother, Ambassador Manuel M. Lopez, has sent a team to the northeast region of Japan to check on the condition of Filipinos there and to extend them assistance. He also said that that Filipinos in Tokyo, Osaka and the western regions of Japan are relatively safe. The embassy’s attention is focused on the 4,500 Filipinos in the northeast, including Sendai city.
We pray for the all the people — both Japanese and Filipino — who are affected by what has been called the worse disaster Japan has faced since World War II. We pray for those who still need to be rescued, who might still be trapped on the rooftops of buildings, or who might miraculously be hanging on to dear life somewhere in the open ocean. We pray for the souls of those whose lives were lost by this act of nature, and we pray for the protection of their loved ones who survived the disaster but must now bare the pain of having lost everything.
ABS-CBN will continue to provide live updates and monitor the situation. Members of the media have been deployed to the affected areas not only to cover the news, but also to facilitate in the evacuation and transfers of Filipinos to safer zones.
Tragedies like this unite people from all nations as we all face the unfolding drama not as Japanese or Filipino or American but as one humanity. Offers of sympathy and assistance spontaneously pour out even from poor developing countries like ours to the world’s third largest economy which Japan is. Their pain and suffering is also the world’s as we have all viewed the transpiring events, of giant waves wiping out whole villages, with the same horror and sense of helplessness.
The economic costs, estimated in the billions of dollars, will affect not only Japan but the rest of the world. We need to brace ourselves for the worst. But we should never lose hope.
I want to share one insight with you. While watching the news, I was struck by how orderly and disciplined the Japanese people continued to be despite everything that has happened to them. In the face of the worst circumstances, they still manage to maintain their dignity as a people. Unlike the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina and Haiti, this disaster may have destroyed lives and property, but it did not destroy the social order. I have witnessed similar acts of humanity during our own Typhoon Ondoy.
We all know the Lopez value of Unity, Social justice, and Nationalism. Now is your chance to put those words into practice. Share your ideas on how we can help the Japanese people in their time of need. After all, what happened to Japan unites people of all races and we all feel their anxieties and pains.