The Way We Work
March 3, 2014 by Guest Blogger

By Chris Madden, co-founder and digital marketer at Matchnode

The first we heard of Typhoon Haiyan—a powerful cyclone that devastated parts of Southeast Asia in November 2013—was from Patrick, a videographer we had just hired to help us with an “explainer video” to promote our company, Matchnode.

We’d been drawn to Patrick based on his past videos, reviews from clients and strong communication during our first interactions. The quality and professionalism of his work stood out, so we weren’t concerned about our project when he informed us that a large storm was bearing down on his home in the Philippines. But we were concerned about him.

That conversation happened on a Tuesday, and he told us he would likely drop out of touch as the storm hit—which he did, when Haiyan arrived just two days later.

In the following days, we watched from Chicago as the tragedy unfolded, the distance shrunk because of our connection with Patrick. Our little video faded out of importance, replaced by our concern for Patrick, his family, and the victims of Haiyan.

We were relieved to hear from Patrick the Sunday after Haiyan struck; he was unharmed in Manila. After a few tense days, even relatives in areas that were harder hit were able to join his family in the capital.

Just a week or so later, Patrick was back at work and delivered a video that was exactly what we needed. We were happy to be able to help his family and friends recover not just by paying him for the work he did, but also by making a donation directly to him—which oDesk facilitated by waiving their fees for direct donations to Filipino freelancers in the aftermath of the storm.

We also gained an appreciation for the real value of fair pay, regardless of where people call home. Because Patrick’s rate is fair but competitive, he’s able to provide stability and quality of life for himself and his family—even in the face of such destruction—by working online for clients around the world.

In the face of Typhoon Haiyan: A letter from Patrick

Here’s what Patrick had to say about being in Manila during Haiyan, how being an oDesk freelancer affected his life during and after the storm, and how we can still help the victims.

Patrick Mabanta

Patrick Mabanta

I live in the capital and was very lucky that the only effects were electric and communication line disruptions. My Internet was gone for a few days. Power was going on and off. I had a few client deadlines that I missed due to this. I was very grateful that oDesk automatically sent a message to all my clients. (They do this for all ongoing contracts with workers in the Philippines, whenever we have a bad storm affecting us.)

We had a hard time communicating with our relatives due to the damage to the communication lines. It was difficult to bear because we had no clue what was going on in their region. Even the news wasn’t able to reach us for a week. Fortunately, they were fine. Their area was hit by the storm but it wasn’t as bad as [the city of] Tacloban, which was entirely devastated by strong winds, water and storm surges.

During Haiyan, I created an online fundraiser to help feed the survivors of the great storm. Fortunately, I had good-hearted clients like those at Matchnode who contributed to the drive through ad budgets and actual contributions. I was able to raise $400, which was doubled by the Canadian government to $800. It was able to feed several families for a week, which was a big help considering this is for their immediate survival.

Right now, Tacloban City is slowly rebuilding. It will take about 6-12 months to be able to get back to normal, aside from the thousands of lives lost. Fundraisers are still ongoing.  For more details on updates and on how people can contribute, visit the Philippine Red Cross Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/phredcross.

Chris Madden

Co-founder and digital marketer at Matchnode

Chris Madden is a co-founder and digital marketer at Matchnode—a full service Chicago Digital Marketing Agency. Matchnode specializes in digital strategy, traffic generation and conversion optimization.

  • Kris Suyom-Deguerio

    I have been a contractor of Odesk for 5 years now and I live in Tacloban City, the place that was ravaged by Yolanda (Haiyan). We were able to escape from our city 8 days after the typhoon, and I received messages from people I least expect to hear from, my Odesk clients. My past and present clients offered help and sent donations without hesitation, and I was overwhelmed.
    Odesk proved to me that distance was not a hindrance to provide services and to care for people across the world. In Odesk, contractors and clients are not only building careers and growing business together, but working here showed us the other side of a contractor-odesk working relationship. Thank you Odesk and to everyone who prayed and helped our country. Thank you.

    • Chris @ Matchnode

      Thanks @krissuyomdeguerio:disqus! Such a moving account and great to hear that we were not alone in feeling this deeper connection to human suffering half a world away that was facilitated by working together on odesk. Thanks for your words!

  • Pingback: Witnessing Tragedy From Across the World: Typhoon Haiyan & Online Work | A2Z Web Design Tutorial()

  • Steve

    I can deeply appreciate your feelings and response during Yolanda – the name change comes after hitting Filipino waters. At one point the eye was headed straight for my fiancé and me on Mindanao but veered north and devastated the Visayans instead which is the middle of the country.

    I live in the USA but you are so correct oDesk and the internet have removed boundaries like never before.

    Thanks for your blog and Patrick’s letter.

    Steve D.

    • Chris @ Matchnode

      Hi Steve: thanks for your comment and kind words. It’s moments like these that allow us to recall what is important, and so often technology and our dependance on devices is discussed in a negative context, so great to remember that the internet (and platforms like odesk) having an amazing abiltiy to connect humans like never before.

      Chris @ Matchnode