Every disaster that hits the Philippines brings the best and the worst in the Filipinos. The recent typhoon, internationally known as Haiyan, that devastated central Visayas, Friday, November 8, was no exception. On center stage are people, including two huge TV Networks mobilizing their staff and working overtime to repack goods, food, and medicine for the ravaged region in the south. We extend our humanity to people entirely unknown to us. This is the best in us.
Government soldiers and civil servants were also involved in the rescue and relief operations but their efforts were simply a mismatch to the enormity of the destruction. Typhoon Haiyan was considered the strongest tropical cyclone that made a landfall packing a wind velocity of 315 kilometers per hour (one minute sustained wind velocity, but at 230 km/hour on 10 minute sustained velocity) and surpassing the record of Hurricane Camille at 305 kilometers/hour that hit the United States in 1969.
Filipino resilience to natural disaster of whatever magnitude was best encapsulated in that Facebook page announcing: “Bagyo Ka Lang, Pinoy Kami.” However, the worst in us comes at center stage too. We started bashing and clawing at our government officials for their incompetence in laying out ahead of time rescue plans to minimize the agonies of people ravaged by the tropical storm. As if anyone is capable of perfectly managing a disaster of this magnitude and ferocity.
Western journalists weighed in as to the absence of “civil government” in the affected areas which only added fuel to this burning narrative. They were seeing government’s effort as lacking the fingerprint of topnotch rescue effort that Japan had in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Great East Region in March 2011.
Understandably, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was not likely to compare the imprint of US FEMA botched rescue operations in the wake of hurricane Katrina that devastated Mississippi, Texas, Florida and most specially, New Orleans in August 2005 to this equally botched rescue efforts of the Filipinos of their ravaged archipelago – because if he did, he would be at a loss as to which between the two was the bigger screw-up.
The Philippines is a third world economy, the U.S. an industrial country. To demand from Filipinos who do not have money and sophisticated equipment certain “rescue skill sets” to address a disaster of this magnitude and not to demand it from Katrina rescuers is a tad unfair. But this is not to say that we should bask in our shortcomings.
Add to this scenario also the fact that the above-mentioned disasters swooped down mainland Japan and the U.S. — highways were open, communication and electricity mostly functional. Yolanda wrecked a hodge-podge of islands in central Visayas – communication, transportation and electricity were down. Each province becomes an island unto itself. You have to hop from island to island to find out what happened to the humanities in each island. In the absence of transportation and communication, finding out what happened to the typhoon victims poses a tremendous challenge — the same challenge that hampered the distribution of life’s necessities days after the storm had faded.
Israel is the number one country when it comes to disaster management. Time Magazine article years back painted a glowing picture on how the Jews clean up mangled bodies littering the streets, repave pock-marked roads, manicure business establishments few hours after every Arab suicide bomber tore up their cities. Observers passing through the area of carnage after the clean-up would hardly notice that it was an earlier site of a ghastly mayhem.
Japan from my perspective, comes next after Israel, and with the Katrina rescue debacle, I could no longer rank the U.S.A if it’s 3rd, 4th or 5th. I would rank Canada third when it comes to disaster preparedness.
As to RP’s ranking, it could be at the tail-end of the list, but let us say we are still fortunate that we are still living in these islands. But if we do not shape up, we can vanish entirely from the earth and become extinct. Darwin’s theory of selective adaptation favors a group of specie that have the adaptive trait to cope with the harsh realities of nature. If we continue whining and bickering to highlight our helplessness in the face of this tragedy, maybe we are not the fittest creatures that can survive in this literal jungle.
Our ancestors of thousand years have been exposed to far worst kinds of elements. There was no civil authority to coordinate relief efforts to cushion the impact of nature’s wrath and vengeance. Each to his own. Many have fallen along the way and few have survived to provide continuity of the human race. Are Filipinos the weakest link in the human race and are not imbued with adaptive skills to fend off the worst disaster individually or collectively? If we cannot survive Yolanda and future calamities, there is a perfect reason for us to become extinct.
Filipinos must shed their culture of entitlement and see natural calamity as a continuing challenge that they themselves must vanquished, or it will vanquish them.
9 thoughts on “The Best In Us, The Worst In Us In The Wake of Storm Yolanda!”
A REBUTTAL OF PEQUE GALLAGA’S RANT
Peque Gallaga just came out with a rant on Facebook explaining his frustrations with the inadequacy of the government’s efforts in handling the aftermath of Yolanda. While some of his observations are valid, he goes out of line on where his rage takes him.
The first part of the rant outlines the polarization caused by the issue and his assessment of the dire situation.
We start with the second portion of his rant (our replies in caps):
I am 70 years old and have been stupid a lot of times for seven decades.
AND WE ARE SAD TO TELL YOU THAT YOU STILL ARE.
“I want to think that I can be a little less stupid now.
PROVE IT BY HELPING THE YOLANDA VICTIMS SOME MORE.
“This time, I want to make sure that my hard-earned money will reach its intended goal.
WE SUPPORT THIS.
“I am sick and tired of throwing away my money; of making our politicians wealthy because of my unconcern and my inattention. WE EMPHATIZE WITH THIS, TOO.
“I am sick and tired of my stupidity.
“So I very much care now where all this help is going.
I read Marvin Xanth Geronimo who was there when Yolanda struck: that TV personalities and politicians like Mar Roxas and Ted Failon going to Tacloban for the photo op.
WHY WOULD TED FAILON GO FOR A PHOTO OP? IS HE A POLITICIAN?
“They never helped; endless tracking video shots of flattened towns with people walking clutching a plastic bottle of water with no government presence whatsoever; Korina Sanchez calling Anderson Cooper “misinformed.” LIAR, LIAR. YOU THINK ANY ENTITY CAN RESPOND ADEQUATELY TO A CALAMITY OF THIS MAGNITUDE SIMULTANEOUSLY? CAN THE UNITED STATES DO IT?
“Cooper was in Tacloban. Korina was not; the US landing 5 planes full of goods and not allowing any politicians to touch any of it. ARE YOU SURE YOU HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION TO MAKE THAT JUDGMENT?
“How much more do we need for us to realize that the enemy was not Yolanda? Yolanda was just a force of nature.
WHO SAID YOLANDA IS THE ENEMY IN THE FIRST PLACE?
“The enemy is our leaders. And the leader of our leaders is the President. “So what now? There’s nothing I can actually do. I can only rage, rage against the dying of common decency.
NO, WE DO NOT JUMP TO SIMPLISTIC CONCLUSIONS JUST LIKE THAT. WE CONTINUE TO HELP IN OUR OWN WAY.
“I can only rage against this man who claimed in a Christiane Amanpour interview that he couldn’t get to the disaster areas because the weather after the storm left didn’t permit him to fly. “This is 24 hours after the sun was shining all over the Philippines by then.
SO YOU ARE NOW MORE COMPETENT THAN THE PILOTS OF THE AIR FORCE IN DETERMINING FLIGHT SAFETY?
I can only rage against a man who made light of the tragedy, refusing to identify it as a major disaster; who made light of a victim of looting who was shot at by telling him, ‘But you did not die, right?’
“I rage against a man who continually blames the LGU’s on the ground for their incompetence and their inefficiency, because it is beginning to dawn on me that these Visayan LGUs happen to be Romualdez people, and this man is playing politics with people’s lives. WHOA! ARE YOU SURE? WHY NOT RANT AGAINST THE ROMUALDEZES, INCLUDING IMELDA, WHO HAVE ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD? MARTIN PAID FOR THE P1M LE CIRQUE DINNER IN NY FOR ARROYO, RIGHT?
“This is a crime. What this man does is unconscionable.
“I can only state it here. I can do nothing about it for now.”I will wait for whatever movement develops after this fiasco and I will join it.
SO HOW IN THE WORLD CAN JOINING ANTI-GOVT RALLIES HELP THE PEOPLE OF TACLOBAN?
“But for now, what I can do is to declare that I am deeply offended by the people who try to stop me and others from stating the obvious. “All those people who charge us for criticizing, for being negative, for Aquino bashing—I am done with these people.
AND WE ARE DONE WITH YOU, TOO.
“In a very Yellow Army way, they try to hide behind an illogical argument that we cannot help if we criticize.
FYI, MANY OF US DID NOT EVEN VOTE FOR HIM. ORANGE ARMY, GREEN ARMY, etc. BUT WHEN HE WON, WE SAW THE GOALS HE SET OUT TO ACHIEVE, HE ACHIEVED SOME BUT NOT ALL. THE GOVT IS IMPERFECT, ARE YOU PERFECT?
“I don’t know how good these friends are at multi-tasking, but one does not cancel out the other.
“We can help and we can criticize. “And at this point, I am convinced that we do help when we criticize; if at one point we can, as Hamlet says, ‘catch the conscience of the king.’
ON THIS POINT, I PRAISE YOU FOR AVOIDING THE FALSE DICHOTOMY OF “CRITICIZING MEANS YOU ARE NOT HELPING.” KUDOS.
“But I know that this is futile. This man is no king. “He is not even a real representative.
“What can you expect from someone who never worked an honest day in his life? What could he possibly relate to?
“So my friends who accuse me of Aquino bashing: I want you to know that I’m done with your line of thinking.
“Either you defend this man or you defend the people that this man is ignoring.
WHOA! IS THIS A CASE OF “IF YOU ARE NOT AGAINST HIM, YOU ARE FOR HIM”?
“Don’t believe that the people are his ‘boss.” “This was a piece of advertising sound byte created by showbiz experts to get the unthinking masses out there to swallow this uniquely unqualified man.
PLS TELL ME IF MOVIES YOU DIRECTED LIKE “SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL (1990,91 and part of 1992)” AND “MAGIC TEMPLE (1996)” WAS NOT DIRECTED TO THE “UNTHINKING MASSES.” HOW ABOUT “AGATON AND MINDY (2009)”?
“This man who is totally unprepared for the most difficult job in the country “So my friends, as far as I’m concerned, you choose him or you choose the people.
AFTER AVOIDING ONE FALSE DICHOTOMY, YOU NOW IMPOSE YOUR OWN FALSE DICHOTOMY. IS IT REALLY A CHOICE BETWEEN HIM AND THE PEOPLE?
“But if you instruct me again to stop bashing this man, I am unfriending you. “I will unfriend you in Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and out in our leaderless streets.”
NO NEED TO. WE ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS ANYWAY.
TO PARAPHRASE WHAT YOU SAID TO ERIK MATTI: WALANG PIKUNAN. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, THE SAVIOR OF THE COUNTRY?
FOR PERSPECTIVE ON THE DARK POLITICS OF PEQUE GALLAGA, WATCH THIS YOUTUBE VIDEO (filmed prior to the 2010 elections) AFTER WATCHING THIS, ASK YOURSELF, WHO WANTS ANARCHY IN THE STREETS?
Yes, Andrew, some of us are simply misguided.
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington is expected to arrive on Thursday evening. The carrier, which has 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft on board, will expand search-and-rescue operations, provide medical care and a platform for helicopters to move supplies to remote areas.
Ø United States – The US government expressed its condolences and had send a small team to help in rescue and recovery efforts and provided an initial US$ 100,000 as assistance. A further US$1 million has been allocated, to be disbursed as needed. Additional logistical and transport assets are available from the US Department of Defense should the Philippines request for them.
Thanks U.SA. I think it has sent some ships also in the area and drop relief goods from their planes.
On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino III visited the two worst-hit provinces , to assess the damage and oversee relief and rescue efforts.
TACLOBAN – The UN warned it expected “the worst” in the typhoon disaster that devastated the Philippines, saying one town alone may have more than 10,000 dead, adding even more urgency to rescue operations underway Tuesday.