The Eye Of The Storm

There is also calmness not only before but after the storm only that there is much to be done: rebuild bridges or homes, look for missing friends or family members, nurse the wounded and eventually bury the dead.

For the government and rescue leaders that’s the time for damage assessment and evaluation of its disaster management performance: To what extent ist the damage to persons, crops and infrastructures? How did the rescue team perform according to  its operating standards, in which area is it especially successful and in which did  it miserably fail?

These are routine questions asked after any disaster. The main thing however is to draw concrete lessons from the whole event and use them to improve the disaster management system- and put more money in it in terms of personnel training and acquisition of technical facilities and equipments.

It is wise to invest in such things because typhoons and flooding will continue to be our number one natural calamities as opposed to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or meteoric attacks.

So why not consider this problem seriously and sincerely by now by creating an expert group that will study the general patterns of typhoons as they enter Bulan and how flooding  generally develop by pinpointing flood „epicenters“ in Bulan. The main goal of this is to gather Bulan-specific data (histories of typhoons and floods, catch-basins, damages, etc…) that will guide any program related to typhoon and flood management. Scientific prediction is never based on an empty paper or entrails of chicken but on collection of data. Therefore, any disaster management not based on the locally-collected data is blind, incomplete, unsystematic and not optimized. This is more costly in the long run. Whereas prediction and estimates supported by science is effective and less-costly with time.

Again, flooding reminds  us of one important aspect which is adequate canal systems under the streets of Bulan and construction of pumphouses in key areas of Bulan. As I have seen we have no canal system that channels household and rain waters to a place outside the town or ideally to a sewerage plant. Functioning underground canals reduce the water level above in case of flood.

The whole thing demands political will and people’s participation- and attitudinal change! A town official may take pride of his great income and luxurious life style only if such problems had been solved first and when he doesn’t have to leave his luxury house and flee uphill in times of flood. Otherwise, such a display of luxury and vanity is out of place  and only attest to illegal practices which choke the town people and flood the town with unsolved problems. This being-out-of -place reminds me of Iglesia Ni Kristo church amidst the shanties, making the poor people appear dirtier and poorer against such a well-built and cleanly-maintained Gothic religious edifice. You’ll intuitively know why these poor people near such a church  are ten-percent poorer than those who are far away  from it. The good thing is that you can run away from such a religious mafia and settle somewhere else.

In any case, we don’t want  the town people to appear dirtier and poorer beside the municipal building or beside their municipal officers and their families. But when the government behaves like an Iglesia Ni Kristo establishment, then there is a grave problem  for you cannot run away from it. People will be more than just  ten-percent poorer, and if you live far from the town you maybe  much more impoverished. However, be it the church or the government that’s making the people  poor, the people must not only be self-reliant but must be politically conscious and active and must resist the corrosion of their collective values.

There is, however, one stumbling block to the collective- and that is the problem of jealousy that looms in each Bulaneño. This may sound very ordinary but this is the crab mentality that we have been talking about which is very real not only in paper but in the daily life of Bulaneños. But we display such mentality (or emotion) rather discretely- and quietly in the true sense of the word.  In short, we don’t talk about things over which we are jealous  for some reasons. Not to talk about something  is almost synonymous with not supporting that something.

Exactly the same with things or topics that we hide or want to avoid. You would easily sense that somebody is hiding or avoiding something by the contortion of his face, the sudden jerking of the body to one side as if avoiding a Pacquiao  left uppercut  once you hit a hot issue-  or one simply hides  behind somebody as you pass by to prevent you from smelling the pungent odor of  his or her dishonesty.

Not many things escape your eyes when you come to observe things and people. But it’s funny to find out that those who are observing you are usually the people you come to observe.

So be calm and let the eye of the storm go by.


jun asuncion

Bulan Observer