Sprawled across huge billboards in some major cities of the world were the words, “THE PHILIPPINES SAY THANK YOU” in bright lights last Saturday. Typhoon Haiyan-hit Philippines sent messages of gratitude to Japan and other countries, which gave them assistance after the country was heavily damaged by one of the world’s worst maritime storms last November.
The effort was spearheaded by the Philippine’s Department of Tourism to convey gratitude for the nations who helped the Southeast Asian nation get back to its feet after the devastation. Electronic messages of gratitude showed on massive screens can be seen in eight cities across the world, including New York City. In Tokyo alone, electronic screens on the Qfront building located in Tokyo’s Shibuya shopping district and two other tarpaulin banners showed the message of thanks written in Japanese. Japan was one of the first nations to aid the Philippines after Haiyan struck, sending financial assistance, relief operations and medical missions to areas devastated.
Tourism attaché and representative to the Philippine’s DOT in East Japan Valentino Cabansag noted that, “When our people were experiencing devastation that we had never experienced before, a lot of people, especially in Japan, helped us.” He believes that Japan’s similar plight a few years ago after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami reminded the Japanese citizens to pour support to their Asian neighbor. He said that with the message of gratitude, he hopes to convey to the world that their country is now slowly rebuilding what was left, and wishes to encourage Philippine tourism. They hope that by doing so, it will hasten the reconstruction happening in that area and boost the economy, which has been down three months after the disaster.