So far, so good

What for should I ask more

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bicol in my mind (2)

That night, the felled trees and toppled power lines and roofless homes were no longer visible. Miracle? No. Black out. Massive cloak of darkness all around you. The only entity with power is- gasp!- the Transco compound.

These towns, Ocampo and Goa, do not get much media attention, if they get any at all, like Albay; consequently, few help trickle in. They experienced the same ferocious weather, sans the mudslide. Truckloads of relief goods pass through their area but they don’t stop.

The good thing about this, though, is that those in their neighboring towns, particularly those involved in Couples For Christ and the Gawad Kalinga work, have taken up the cudgels for these massively disadvantaged residents. With some help from the local government units, the residents of Goa and Ocampo are surviving thanks to their collective resiliency and the brothers and sisters in the CFC community who continue to heed the call to put their faith into action.

The health service delivery activity we did was a mere band-aid solution to their myriad problems. Hopefully the palliative effort directed to the body reached their spirit as well, if only to underscore the point that somebody cares and has not forgotten or has turned a blind eye.

From my readings for my Disaster Management lecture in school and from life experiences in general as made more real by our recent Bicol trip, I have come to realize that, indeed, there is much to be improved on how we deal with volcanic eruptions, typhoons, earthquakes, and other calamities in the Philippines.

We must shift from myopic, reactive planning which commences a week before a storm is due to hit the country (the kind wherein we evacuate people living in the Mayon danger zone just before the first raindrops are about to fall) into a system which really addresses vulnerabilities (the kind where we stop to ask and act on questions like: What ARE we doing about these people living in the fringes of Mayon? WHY ARE THEY THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?!).

We must shake-off our collective amnesia which takes hold of us as interest in the typhoon-damaged area wanes and the latter no longer makes good copy or does not offer much political brownie points.

Have we forgotten already the tragedy in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte?

Have we forgotten already the lessons from Milenyo?

Wait- Did we learn anything at all?

We cannot do anything about our 22 or so active volcanoes, our location in the Pacific Ring of Fire, or our being the doormat of typhoons about to hit Asia from the Pacific or about to leave the continent via the South China Sea. What we can improve on is the way we prepare for disasters, from implementation of tougher construction standards to addressing the economic concerns of people pushed to live in disaster-prone areas to putting aside political bickering and doing away with massive graft and corruption.

We must always be mindful that taking care of our people during disasters does not stop after we pluck them out of danger, settle them in evacuation centers, and flood them with relief goods. Our ultimate goals should be to restore their lives as close as possible to the level of safety and comfort they enjoyed prior to the calamity (if not improve them further) and to ensure that number of lives and properties affected will be minimized.

It is a shame that the towns of Ocampo and Goa are suffering needlessly from neglect and apathy. Given our meager resources, if we continue to think less of ourselves and more of others, we will discover that there is enough for all.

(Any and all help is welcome. Please give through Gawad Kalinga and make Christmas- yours and theirs- a merrier one.)

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Blogger Dorothy said...

I totally agree...

Good piece. Could you please please send this to Inquirer or Manila Bulletin or some major publication for everyone to read??? :O)

Monday, December 11, 2006 4:43:00 PM  
Anonymous RG said...

These Ian, are some of the major reasons why I chose to leave. Sadly I am overwhelmed by the MAGNITUDE of problems our country faces, and behind that, the unwillingness of a great majority of our countrymen to do nothing to alleviate them. It's true what you said --- we only offer BAND-AID solutions to ALL our problems, and often those who are in the position to help only help for publicity and personal gains.

Additionally, I am saddened that I am SUPPOSEDLY in a position to help, but am unable to because of my own physical and financial limitations. [And doctors have their own needs to address to of course.] But even as I am bound to go, I am pledging my assistance to a little cause I will be leaving behind. If all goes well, I am also thinking of supporting your organization's cause in whatever way I will be able to.

Again, my commendation to you for being one of the few TRULY POSITIVELY-OUTLOOKING people I know. I am proud that you ARE the Class President of UPCM 2005. =)

Monday, December 11, 2006 8:29:00 PM  

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