Reflections on Life, Typhoon Haiyan and How You Can Help

Sunset view from Mount Ilihan

Reaching the peak of Mount Kabalintin to watch the magnificent sunset in Bohol, Visayas

Last week, the Philippines was slammed with the biggest typhoon ever heard. 

I have a confession: I don’t read or watch news. Ever. Heck I haven’t watched TV for the past decade or so. But since this is a major news that rocked my home country, I found myself googling ‘typhoon yolanda’ and clicking on images instead. What I saw is simply indescribable.

The typhoon hit several islands in the Visayas region. Though I have never been to those islands badly affected, I’ve been to Bohol where I gave a talk at my cousin’s foundation and also traveled off the beaten track.

Literally thousands of devastating news about the typhoon are everywhere: google, cnn, bbc, and most of all my facebook feed. I cannot believe that out of all these news, I can’t find inspirational posts about what’s been going. Luckily, I found one and he writes:

“Yolanda has come and gone, and has left so much destruction and suffering in its wake. How fragile is our life, how temporary are our earthly dwellings, and how small are our worldly achievements. May we be reminded that life is short and that death is certain.”

I found myself strongly agreeing on it.

A week before the typhoon hit, I wrote my most revealing post yet and tackled on how I placed value on the fragility of life. Before that, one of the inspirational articles I posted was about the 5 Regrets of the Dying, wherein the sunset shot I took was from a mountain in Visayas.

It gets even more intriguing.

At the end of 2009, I found this blog post that dramatically changed my life. Since 2010, I set a goal to read at least one book a week. I made it in 2011 and 2012. This year at one point in my travels, I fell off the bandwagon and tallied that I won’t be able to make it this year.

The thing is I rarely read fiction. And If I do I only read Paulo Coelho’s works. However, since I wanted to catch up on my target, I bought a fiction book this week so I can finish it in one shot. Here’s what fell into my lap:



A brief summary of the story is about a lawyer who quit his job and life in the west after being diagnosed with a heart attack to find answers to his life questions while traveling in India.

I found myself nodding, agreeing and highlighting almost the entire book. The memories of my solo travels were so much brought to life by this book. I can’t help but remember my personal journey. Though I haven’t been to India. I found his discoveries in India very similar with my discoveries in Thailand, a country that holds a special place in my heart.

During my first visit to Chiang Mai in September 2011, I got lost in the streets and found myself in one of the most beautiful temples. Intrigued, I went in and after two hours of conversation, I walked out having gained monk friends and insights to Buddhism.

In 2012, I went back and lived in Chiang Mai for two months. There I continued with my studies and seeing my monk friends in the temple. That was until my one of my friends confessed that he was quitting the life in the monastery that he had for 16 years because he fell in love with me.

“OMG Anna you just destroyed the monk’s life!”, my sister jokingly told me on skype.

“I did not do anything!”

This has been one of the most awkward moments in my travels that became such a laughing matter of my few friends who knew the story.

So I asked Buddha to spare the monk’s life. The monk quit being a monk.

I thought to myself, did I really destroy his life?

I digress.

I believe I actually saved it.

As the monk who sold his ferrari said: “Time slips through our hands like grains of sand, never to return again. Those who use time wisely from an early age are rewarded with rich, productive and satisfying lives.”

If there’s one thing that you can do to lose your life it is this: read or watch the news. It’s not going to save your life nor other people’s lives. It’s also the best way to waste your time. Why not use it for something worthwhile like taking action to help these people or living the life of your dreams instead?

While I am very grateful that all my family and friends in the Philippines are safe and sound, a lot of people need your help. It is my wish that this simple blog post can at least save someone’s life.

If you are reading this, you are a lucky person and every little bit of your help goes a long way.

Here are a few that you can extend your help to the Philippines. You can read more about their missions from these links:

Save the Children

UN World Food Programme

Philippine Red Cross

Doctors Without Borders

A simple belief that helped me eliminate most of my worries is to focus only on things that I can control. We cannot control natural calamities, tragedies or how the government will put the generous donations to work. But we can actually control how we live our lives. May you choose a life that you will be proud of.

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