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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lessons From Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy)

"I don't demand that they be sages to foretell the scale of Ondoy's fury..."

The past two weeks have been very disturbing as the world witnessed a series of grim scenarios across the Pacific territories. Notably, the recent calamities that had struck the Philippines courtesy of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. It's hard to comprehend how a poor country like the Philippines would be able to cope from the aftermath of these disasters. Notwithstanding the collective efforts by various sectors from all corners, the prospect of getting aids delivered to the victims remains a hard task. How many weeks or months will it necessitate until our unfortunate compatriots would be able to rise up from the rubbles of despair and desperation?

One positive thing that Filipinos can be credited though is their unwavering resilience and optimism that should be indispensable in these trying times. My heart and mind go out to the victims especially the old, the sick and the children. On a personal note, I may be lucky or shall I say blest because I have no immediate relatives experiencing this awful predicament lest I would have been a very restless soul. Watching their situations on television has become a painful and unbearable experience.

These natural phenomena cannot be questioned as the Philippines is naturally prone to such. But could the damage have been lessened if we only had enough preparations? I think it could have been so. But why our government officials did not anticipate this worst scenario to occur? And that they have become oblivious to the fact that these events are forthcoming? Is it because the culture of corruption has first inundated our social fabrics that the sitting government officials themselves have become the perpetrators of a disaster this magnitude?

In relation to this, I strongly agree with Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's call for these concerned officials to be prosecuted by law for dereliction of duty and so forth. The repercussion from this terrible tragedy could have somewhat been alleviated had government funds been properly disposed of and not gone to the already swollen pockets and bank accounts of our unscrupulous government officials. We always claim that Filipinos are never short of talent and brilliant minds. And why no one, no one had forewarned the public or the government officials that an unthinkable disaster is imminent because of the continued conversion of supposed floodways into residential settlements? It could be because the bribe of the rich real estate developers are too powerful to resist? Maybe! Maybe not. But who's to blame?

I don't demand that they be sages to foretell the scale of Ondoy's fury, but my point is the damages and the loss of lives could have been minimized had we done the right preparations and had we taken heed from the urban planners that a disaster is impending because of a flawed dynamics in urban settlement. Thousands of families are still grappling to survive in the evacuation centers. I just cannot imagine how to exist in such awful conditions with the stench, the noise and diseases all over hanging around your head. The children for the most part are also the most vulnerable from hunger and diseases let alone the trauma that could be haunting them for the rest of their lives.

I wish we are strong enough, for us to be able to rise up from this abysmal conditions that our country is suffering from right now. I wish our human frailty and vulnerability do not get the better of us. I wish we have leaders who are genuinely passionate enough to care for their people. Leaders who will not only think of enriching themselves upon assuming office but have the right attitude of a public servant.

If we could only hear the sighs and moans of the destitute in our country, they might sound telling us that enough is enough. Yes we have had enough but lessons learned and not exercised are deemed useless. Sad to say, the poor have always been cunningly used in some distinct political slogans that have been proven effective in elections but behind that heavenly sounding pro-poor promises lie a sinister genuine motive that would deprive the poor themselves and rob them of a better future. It is for us Filipinos to decide about our future. We have always the choice. Let's use democracy to our advantage. We have been blest to live in a society where freedom is not a commodity but an inherent right of every citizen. Why can't we be capable of effecting change in our country? Of course we can, and it starts within us individually.

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Anonymous said...

Ondoy has brought out the heroes within us Filipinos -- and also the evils.

Bakit nga ba hindi tayo magkaisa kahit walang Ondoy? Sabi mo nga, let's start individually -- within our circle, within our family.

Naniniwala akong may pag-asa pa rin ang Pinas. Let start from ignoring the trapos in 2010.

Salamat po sa pagdalaw. Aasahan ko pa pong makabasa ng inyong susunod na mga panulat.

Nelson Fontanilla Bedayo said...

Salamat Nebz. No more "POs" please.Bata pa tayo, 'di ba?

Anonymous said...

I was stuck at the office the day of the Ondoy thing. I was in Ortigas. We had to mop the water from the floor of the office because water got into the office somehow. My two officemates had to sleep over at the pantry/sleeping area because their place was inaccessible.

And from what Pnoy has revealed, PGMA milked the calamity fund for all it was worth during that time.

But my brother, who was in UPD at that time got to volunteer in putting relief goods. I think that was a good life experience for him.

I had wanted to help but I had no time in my hands during that time. And my mom insisted that I stay put so she didn't have to worry about me. *double standards towards women run in the family for a reason*

The saddest thing about all that happened was that people lost homes they had worked to buy and furnish as well as businesses. In my head, why couldn't the trapos been the ones who drowned?

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