by jun asuncion
The two super typhoons that went through and above the Philippines have reminded us again of our human vulnerability, but this time with such an intensity that hundreds of thousands of our countrymen were displaced from their dwellings, hundreds lost their lives, properties destroyed. Total chaos, total misery.
What is left now are the vestiges of destruction, the digital images of our sufferings that one can view anytime in internet and the herculean tasks of sustaining lives and of rebuilding all the damaged infrastructure. Today’s technology help much in spreading our catastrophic situation and our call for help throughout the world. The millions of Filipinos constituting the diaspora were in pain as they watch the videos and photos of their troubled countrymen; the same with the concerned international community. And they reacted quickly by organizing all forms of help. Sending financial help and fund-raising are also done swiftly with today’s technology. Thus, on one side, we are lucky that this destruction happened with this technology on hand. Still, it is a race against time; additional suffering should not be inflicted to our homeless people by delaying the distribution of relief goods, the clean-up and rebuilding of all infrastructure.
Are we Filipinos born only to suffer and are we not entitled to a bit more comfortable existence? Being on the typhoon belt- and an average of 27 typhoons a year- we are doomed to suffer losses in crop production and its effects. Crop producers and small farmers suffer the most. Invested capital and labor are lost. Unlike in some industrialized countries, farmers and crop-producers are subsidized and their products are insured from elementary hazards like water and fire. So after a virulent flood or hailstorm, farmers and crop-produces do not come out totally empty.
Our Filipino farmers have always been eeking out a living on the edge of existence. If we cannot move the Philippines away from the typhoon belt, then something should be done on the political level to improve the situation. It’s not politically correct to criticize the government in this present dire situation. But typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng have also exposed the anatomy of destruction in the Philippines brought about by corruption, exposed the unsubstantial presidential speeches we heard not too long ago. The Philippines is economically not after all on the verge of a take-off but on the verge of drowning.
Before these floods, Filipinos were already flooded to apathy by empty debates in Congress and entertained to poverty by late night wowowee shows in Malacañang. Indeed, these devastating typhoons have also blown open the havoc of the myopic logic of greed that predominated the Philippine politics. With just thirteen rubber boats and with no budget allotment, how could the National Disaster Coordinating Council NDCC effectively and extensively perform their rescue operations? The financial resources went somewhere else.
Being frequented by typhoons every year, the Philippines should in fact be a world champion in typhoon-and flood disaster planning, should have anticipated such scale of destruction and should have been in possession of rescue materials like hundreds of rubber boats, rescue helicopters, etc. But the world has witnessed a capital city without such needed equipments and materials. Malacañang was laid bare by Ondoy and globalized the truth of its lies and inefficiency.
It’s not wrong to be poor, but its wrong to continue being unrealistic. To hate the presence of the Americans in our country is- in my opinion- one among our unrealistic ideas. Again, Ondoy and Pepeng have shown us that we need them. The presence of US navy ships off the shore of Pangasinan, their rescue helicopters and rubber boats, their trained personnel, etc. have surely help the Filipinos in this emergency situation. Abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement VFA after that? That would be heedless – and lacking in utang na loob.
I was once in favor of this idea, but not too long ago I found my attitude unrealistic- not because of the typhoons, but because of the terrorism and insurgency problems that we have in the Philippines. Alone and with empty arsenals, equipped only with pride, and with leaders at war with one another, we cannot combat these problems in the long run. Hence, not abrogate, just define the terms clearly and work with the Americans.
Wait till the fat lady sings or rather consult our advisers Ondoy and Pepeng? //