Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When the Steel Kubo Sank

No one was really prepared for anything, les changing their lives forever. September 26, 2009 was just an ordinary day for most of us but not till that afternoon when most of Metro Manila, the capital of vulnerable Philippines was hit by a month’s worth or rain within six hours. Life altering indeed and it came from the waters that gave life to the capital who’s been the country’s main port city.

Life versus Material

As the raging flood waters enveloped most of the city, when cars toppled upon another, when the walls of your house that protects you defied its purpose, and when roofs become the only solace of safety available, one couldn’t help but wonder. With all material things striped from you, you are left with your humanity and shaken faith with God. This was hurricane Katrina with a big mound of rice in it that most of us couldn’t bare to swallow. As the hours trickled on, and the rains pour vigorously, we held on to that faith. We know that its common sense that the murky dark waters of mud, garbage and the hard earned life of the people, swallowed house after house, subdivision, buildings, aimlessly and indiscriminately: commoners, politicians, actors, rich or poor, all succumbed to its wrath.

Democracy and Government

Let’s go back when we were mourning for the death of the Mother of Philippine Democracy, Corazon Aquino. All were moved, appreciative of what she gave us back, restored our soul as a race and as freemen. It’s the time when nationalism and love for our country was at its peak. I think that this event made us more responsive and vigilant regarding what’s happening around and it did helped a LOT during Ondoy’s wrath. The evening of September 26 became a milestone for everyone. A shining silver lining on what we are as a race drowning in fear and chaos: the birth of a new breed of people.

People online became newscasters, weather men, making everyone aware of the extent of the disaster. Groups helping out for relief efforts, volunteerism and compelling hoards in prayer, people connecting to people as their voice to direct them for and to help. It’s the only time when politics and government was irrelevant and noticeably non-existent. Media took over and everyone has a voice. True democracy in action and deed… an exercise of when a person governed himself and saw his part of a greater group, the results seemed so much more significant. To be frank, people online were far more organized with coordinating, informing and acting on Ondoy’s victims and the help needed for them, more than the Philippine government itself. Shame on you people who we pay to govern us.

Your Declaration of the State of Calamity is Good… But Where is the Rubberboat?

As the rescue operations started with people stranded in their homes, roofs and even powerlines, one can’t help but wonder how our government is so ill prepared with calamities such as this, that it’s such a given fact that our country is bombarded by typhoons several times every year. We don’t need your words. We need action. And coming from the glistening positive behavior of the Filipino people, the government should be threatened. Why? Because this was the instance when they’re needed to act and no one really cared if they do. The bayanihan spirit was so alive that people depended on other people to survive, that the boundaries of society were defied and deemed insignificant, that the bottom-line of it all was that people need help, so they’re going to get it, and no politician would put malice on such humanitarian effort. It’s simply us, like a family.

Stories of Bravery, Death, and Survival…

Relief work started immediately, first in small ways such as checking your neighbor next door, prayers and small bits of heroism here and there. But the full story of this chapter in our history didn’t really materialize till the day after the storm, when practically a giant pitcher of rain water was poured all over the city like a tsunami. Death littered the streets like the gunk and garbage it has, pushing 300 as of this moment. The whole world was watching as people wade around puzzled with what has happened to a modern metropolitan city they live in. Story after story, each one more disastrous, sad, heroic than the other… It’s a whole chapter of stories that we as a race are capable of writing legibly and properly.

This is a test given by God and we are given this chance to have straight A’s. Yes, you might think it’s just a small part of a country with seven thousand plus islands, and Manila is not the Philippines, but the capital, after all, is the melting pot of all the people in our country and properly represented. God probably thought that the Filipinos are very ripe for this. We were given a chance to rekindle our soul as a freedom loving and respecting race a couple of month’s back, and now is the time to act on it with Him on our side.

Moving On…

After all the relief efforts that’s going on right now, giving victims means to survive the day, what efforts are we supposed to do to help people stand on their own once again? Everything that’s offered now is just temporary, but rebuilding back intangible lives is a bigger task. Sometimes I entertain the idea that Ondoy is a chance for Manila to retrofit its urban planning, a chance to view our capital in a different way, a capital more respectful of nature, and aware of environmental concerns, a clear message for everyone to participate in the global drive to combat global warming, an example for other cities in the country to re-evaluate and asses what’s lacking in their community, an opportunity for groups and organizations to practice their mission and vision, and simply relive a value that makes us all Filipino. Bayanihan.

Together we should force ourselves to move on and be prepared all the time after this disaster. We are resilient as a race, dutiful with our spirituality but we all tend to forget sometimes. We don’t need another Ondoy to kiss the cheek of our mother country just to make us realize why our race is a survivor or why we are Filipinos, and be inspired to write our history better and with an A+ from God.

Monday, September 28, 2009