Two weeks after the super typhoon Haiyan, we are faced with the herculean task of recovery and rebuilding. How do we build homes to the hundreds of thousands of homeless people and how do we give medical care to the wounded and sick among them without water and electricity and existing hospitals – and even medical staff for they, like all others, were victims themselves. This is such an unimaginable logistical problem. Though help and support of all kinds are coming from the international community and the national government, still it takes time to build the most needed infrastructures like roads, hospitals, water and electric plants, bridges and the hundreds of thousands of homes needed. Many have died the day the typhoon hit these areas, but many more will die in such conditions of hunger, shock, trauma, homelessness and zero infrastructures, services and facilities. The government is doing everything but it needs time, – and time is running out to save the weakest and vulnerable among the survivors.
Most of the dead were buried by now. And while we still have hundreds of hours of work before us, to take a minute of silence that will bring us to that quiet place in us where no typhoon can ever penetrate, a place where we all feel at home together as a people, will do us good.
In the face of all these destructive calamities that have recently befallen the country, we shall all agree that life shall go on and that the life and dignity of every human shall be respected and protected. And also, as we now pick up our tools to start rebuilding, we should not neglect to treat nature with respect and consider her in our planning so that she will treat us the same way. We are inseparable from nature, therefore, it’s just wise to live by her rules.
The Philippine archipelago is endowed with natural beauty, but beauty has its price. The Philippines is on the front line of natural calamities and danger may come from above and below. Danger from above are the typhoons. The Philippines is the only large country that is geographically very exposed to tropical cyclones. There are about 20 to 24 typhoons that hit the Philippines, and a few of them are devastating. The most recent one, super typhoon Haiyan, has occurred just two weeks ago and which has practically obliterated Tacloban city and many more places in this region. Around 44,000 of 55,000 houses were wiped out, the rest may still be standing but heavily defaced. Those buildings near the shore just disappeared with the storm surge and over 5,000 people disappeared in a wink of the eye of the storm.
Typhoons are just normal for Filipino people that a child by the time he is ten years old will have already experienced around 240 typhoons. But this month’s typhoon has surpassed them all. And this typhoon Haiyan has given us a glimpse of the probable nature of typhoons yet to come, – that some of them could be as strong or even stronger than Haiyan. That’s a grim reality to come we have to brace ourselves for.
The danger from below our feet and houses are the earthquakes. The Philippine islands lie in the so called Pacific Ring Of Fire, hence, many earthquakes occur in the islands. The last one just last October 2013 which damaged among others Bohol and Cebu. If this happened that a strong earthquake and a super typhoon occurred in just a few weeks of interval, the worst that one could imagine is if they would happen at the same time sometime in the future. Better not.
If beauty has its price, then it’s a high price. A single typhoon costs millions or billions of pesos. This typhoon Haiyan alone has cost around P25 billions. But that’s the loss and how about the cost of rebuilding? Aside from thousands of human lives, the country losses therefore tens of billions of pesos from typhoons and earthquakes alone every year. And we don’t even add to that the cost of the damages of the typhoons of political corruption that befall our senate and house of representatives and the provincial and municipal buildings. A total shame.
One thing is clear: We cannot move the Philippines away from these typhoons and earthquakes.The people have to live with it, have to stay in their homeland and rebuild their cities and homes. For the responsible and sensible world citizens (or Netizens) who live in fortunate locations, their only option is to help. The Philippine islands have a life-saving role to play, – as a typhoon shock absorber or shield because after a typhoon has hit the Philippines with its full impact, it normally continues its course to Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia but already weakened to a certain degree, hence, saving countless lives in these neighboring countries. Haiyan was already over 100 km/h slower when it approached Vietnam. Tha’s a big deal.
Typhoons here, earthquakes there, still life must go on like that of one father in Tacloban who lost his wife and five of his children instantly as the killer waves surged into their village that he is now left with only one child who survived with him. He said that the pain of loss was hard to bear but he still has a child who needs him that’s why he chose life.
For us then who are not regularly affected by such devastating natural calamities, let’s choose to help them recover from their severe nightmare.