Thursday, 6 November 2014

Typhoon Haiyan: How (not) to commemorate a disaster

How do you commemorate a disaster that killed thousands, and raise some money for survivors? Not with a dance party, seems to be the answer ringing out from the Philippines.

A year ago, Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda locally) left about 7,000 dead or missing, and millions homeless. A survivor organised a ‘dance party’ to be held tomorrow in Tacloban, the worst hit area, with the slogan: ‘Party like it never happened, remember because it did.’ The proceeds were meant to help set up educational scholarships.

But the announcement of the event brought protests that it was insensitive, to which the organisers bowed, cancelling it, and apologising to those who had ‘misinterpreted’ the reasons for holding it. They said it was meant to be a celebration of survival, and that they would go on selling a tee shirt reading: ‘not even the strongest typhoon could bend the strongest people.’

With gusts hitting nearly 200 miles an hour, some consider Haiyan the strongest storm ever to make landfall. President Aquino declared it a ‘national calamity’.

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