Twelve days of non-stop monsoon rains submerged the Philippine capital, while millions were forced to flee their homes this week. What little property families had was washed away in the flood – clothes, furniture, houses. Some families lost their loved ones: according to reports, 11 people were killed. It was a battering that paralyzed Manila’s business community, but not its children, who came out to dance in the rain, extended a hand as far as they could and reassured each other that the sun would soon shine.

It took a series of simple actions which people thought to ‘pay forward’ until that idea grew. Soon, everyone had a small role to fill. Through social media such as Twitter, authorities were able to get information on rescue operations and missing persons. Hotline numbers and updates on roads were spread around. Evacuation centers were soon filled up but donations came from every direction – even 12,000 prisoners chose to give up their meals to donate to flood victims.

These times are undeniably hard. The lack of disaster management has seriously cramped the situation in most places. Some blame the government, saying that it still hasn’t learned from the typhoon that ravaged the capital three years ago. The lack of reliable weather forecasting is a concern for the citizens. Announcements of suspensions are made late in the day when students are already stranded in schools. Waste management is also a problem because of the garbage that blocks drainage and causes flooding.

The most remarkable thing is that people didn’t cease to smile in whatever situation. That fact keeps them afloat in the worst floods. As of Wednesday, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) downgraded the red alert on the capital city to yellow which means light to moderate rains. While many areas are still flooded and without electricity, help is constantly pouring in. Filipinos, in times like these, believe that everyone is a hero in their own way.