Christmas is a season of joy. It’s a season of pleasure and rejoicing. It’s a time of year when we put our troubles behind and focus on goodwill and spreading the joy with our fellow men. Christmas, for us, is in a large part all about the LiP Christmas Giveaway. What is the LiP Giveaway? For those who are new here and don’t know, every year, for the past 10 years, my family and I have been giving away food and Christmas gifts to poor people in Mindanao, mostly around Davao and in Bukidnon. It’s been a very joyous thing for us, something that we get great pleasure from. For the past 4 years or so, I have been inviting the readers of this website to participate in the giveaway by donating money for the purposes. Since I did that, the scale and size of the Giveaway has grown quite vast.
I started asking for donations a bit early this year. Normally I don’t start until the very end of November, or even in December, but this year I decided to start in early November. Why? Well, because I knew that the world’s economy is in bad shape, and many people would not be able to give in the amounts that they have in the past. A lot of people are either not working, or worried that they may lose their jobs. I can certainly understand that. So, this year I decided to start the drive a bit early. As expected, donations were down this year, but a number of people were still able to be very generous. I want to thank all who donated, and for those who were unable to do so, I understand completely.
But, even with the donations being down, we wanted to make an impact this Christmas. We had great plans. But, just over a week before Christmas, great calamity struck Mindanao. A typhoon passed over Davao and struck with great devastation in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and the rest of Northern Mindanao. Some places outside Mindanao were also severely hit, like Dumaguete City. As of this writing, already over 1,000 have been confirmed dead due to flash floods that hit the areas. At this time, as many as 2,000 or 2,500 people are still missing, depending on the report that you read. Speculation is that the death toll could easily be expected to reach 3,000.
When this great tragedy hit, within a day I decided to divert some of the Christmas donations over to assisting the Typhoon victims. The level of human suffering is really huge, and I feel like this is the sensible thing to do. So, on Sunday, December 18, I made a rather sizable donation split between relief groups in Iligan and also in Cagayan de Oro. By the middle of this past week, Feyma and I decided to make a second big donation to the effort. This is a bit outside what we have ever done with the funds donated for the Christmas Drive, but I did talk to a few of the donors, and they all agreed with my decision to do this, so I feel that most readers, and particularly donors to the effort will strongly agree that this was the right thing to do.
Even with these disaster relief donations, we still wanted to have a Christmas Giveaway, to do something a bit more traditional than simple disaster relief. Do you remember, last year, we gave donations to some students who were very poor? These students were, at that time, 3rd Year High School students here in Davao. They had only hot water for their school lunch, they could not afford anything else. So, last year, we sponsored the girls for their school lunches for the rest of the school year. This year, we are continuing to sponsor these girls with the money from the LiP Giveaway donations that we have received. These girls are quite grateful for this help that they are receiving.
So, this year’s Christmas is very somber here in Mindanao, and much of the Philippines, and it is a different type of LiP Giveaway this year. However, I feel that to have ignored the severe need at this time would have been a terrible thing to do. If any of you can offer further help for the victims of this disaster, i would encourage you to do so. For those who contributed to the LiP Giveaway, know that your money has gone to assist those in Northern Mindanao who are greatly in need.
Merry Christmas to all of you. Even though it’s hard to rejoice in the face of such a calamity, we do have many things to be thankful and joyous for.