Year after year after year
We are so fixated on disasters …they happen so often that we seem to have accepted them as a fact of Filipino life …so accepted that government does nothing but address the symptoms and not the root causes …building dikes and retention ponds but not bringing back upland forest cover or properly managing our environment, buying a few rafts or training rescue squads for informal settlers but not providing sound social housing or equitable access to land, shelter and basic services, …planning evacuation routes but not embarking on comprehensive regional planning required by the impact of climate change, …rescuing stranded citizens but allowing them later to build on high-risk areas in time for next year’s disasters.
Officials and even media seem bent just on ‘managing’ disasters to get the most mileage …gov’t functionaries, it is suspected, do not want to really solve this recurring problem …to justify substantial annual ‘disaster’ funds (to the extent of manipulating images of themselves at disaster sites) …media conglomorates likewise …treating tyhoppn ‘season’ as a regular ‘TV season’ full of opportunities to capture viewership share …and subsequent share of advertising revenues …paid by companies with bottom lines to keep above water …while the hundreds of thousands wade or drown in them.
If we, as a modern society, sincerely want to address the problem then the loss of a single life to ‘natural’ calamity is not to be considered acceptable …or natural. To deny our communal culpability and still do nothing is tantamount to abandoning our moral obligation to take care of our fellow Filipinos. Are we not all tired of yearly having to pack disaster relief bags for distribution? …tired of the yearly summation reports in media of billions in property damage and disruption to our alreadly fragile economy? …tired of the yearly body count?
It is all achingly numbing …how ridiculously blind can we be to not see the impact of a runaway population of 100 million (and counting) desperate to find a piece of land- no matter how precarious? how religiously stupid we all are to keep praying to the heavens when heaven’s message is that we have to pay for our sins? …how irrational our folly of addressing problems piecemeal based on a fragmented politifcal framework?.. and how immeasurably stupid can we be to let this all happen year after year after year after year?
- Paolo Alcazaren