#Haiyan: Waiting for a song

Miriam Grace A. Go

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Three decades ago, there was Band Aid, USA for Africa, The CAUSE. I'm hoping artists will pool their talents now to sing about the depth of my people’s misery

MANILA, Philippines – In between editing heartbreaking news early last week about people who lost everything in the powerful typhoon, I scoured Twitter for messages from Christian artists.

Although not less influential and inspirational, they were left out in those quickly put together “celebrities tweet” articles of most publications in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines).

I found a few – the older ones, I listen to; the younger ones, my kids know:







And then I found myself asking: Is this all?

At first I thought I was just expecting them to do more than just express sympathy, say a prayer, and send love – to rally people to support relief efforts or, even better, to raise funds.

Last I checked, a few of them have done that:




I realized I was waiting for more. I was hoping that somebody somewhere would say, let’s pool our talents, capture the depth of these people’s misery, and ask those who will listen to do something for them immediately.

“Do Something Now.” In the ’80s, that’s what some Christian artists in America performed to help raise funds for hungry Ethiopians. How its words put a lump in my throat then, and how they bring me to tears now, imagining that this too could be about my fellow Filipinos in the Visayas.

Particularly difficult for me – for somebody who’s not just watching but is processing the news – are these lines: “Here in utopia, they’re just another item in the news tonight.”


Down in Ethiopia,

a silent baby clings to an empty breast.

Down in Ethiopia,

another cries for food or eternal rest.

You can touch somebody.

Reach out with love to a helpless face.

Everybody is our brother and sister

Reach out and be an agent of grace…

If we really care,

we’ll do something now.


To those not into gospel music, this is what you’d remember from that era: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are the World.”

Two decades later, a remake of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was made to raise funds for people in the conflict-torn region of Darfur in Sudan.

Where are such songs now? In fact, I seem to have missed them when the so-called Christmas tsunami from the Indian Ocean crashed upon 15 countries and killed almost 230,000 people in 2004. Or Hurricane Katrina that swept the Gulf coast from Florida to Texas in 2005 and killed more than 1,800. Or in the earthquake in Haiti that killed anywhere from 100,000 to 159,000 in 2010. 

Oh, but these are unlike long-running problems like hunger and poverty that formed The CAUSE, Band Aid, and USA for Africa in the mid-1980s, or political oppression that U2 sings about.

I’m guessing, natural calamities sweep us all at once and leave any creative soul grasping for words and melody to give justice to such suffering.

Or maybe the calamities are occurring more often now and more severe each time, we can’t catch our creative – and collective – breaths to even write the first lines and find the right notes.

There are concerts being staged now and music downloaded for free in exchange for donations – thank you all, every note played and sung will help a soul or two in the ravaged regions of my country.

But I, honestly, am still wishing for a song that will move more people to help, and change what we can so that, hopefully, prayerfully, something like this does not happen again.

I am waiting for a song that, if we don’t do anything to touch a survivor’s life now, should be powerful enough to haunt us when it’s played back in the coming times.

From Band Aid, the best of the best among British bands in 1984:


But say a pray’r, pray for the other ones.

At Christmas time, it’s hard,

but when you’re having fun,

There’s a world outside your window

and it’s the world of dread and fear,

where the only water flowing

is the bitter sting of tears.

And the Christmas bells that ring there

are the clanging chimes of doom…

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? – Rappler.com


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Miriam Grace A. Go

Miriam Grace A Go’s areas of interest are local governance, campaigns and elections, and anything Japanese.