disaster · Ondoy · Philippines · thoughts

Every Man for himself with Ondoy

Ondoy left our country in a devastated state. You don’t have to look far; you can probably just look at your own backyard to see the devastation that was caused by Ondoy. Our caretaker was at home yesterday checking and fixing things that were damaged —doors, books and magazines that won’t come out from the bookshelves, lights, and all these other things. Our piano was badly damaged and I was so frustrated when I was playing it last night. Compared to other people’s damages, I know ours is relatively small. But it is damage, nonetheless.

I also just heard news from my twin sister that finally, water has been restored at our place. That’s 5 days without water and not staying at home because of the inconvenience of having to ask water from neighbors. All the trouble of waking up in the morning and filling up pails and pails of water —I can do away with this. But when my sister and I decided to sleep at home last night because water was filled up for us by our kind neighbors, there was another cause for irritation: the mountain of garbage piling up in front of our very house. And I could smell the stench of garbage which lay untouched since Sunday. Where are the garbage collectors when you need them and why aren’t they collecting garbage? They purposely do not pass by our street probably because of the mounds of trash they have to pick up —katamaran kaya ito? I was told that a councilor lived nearby, and yet he wasn’t doing anything either. I haven’t even heard anything from our barangay captain, let alone barangay officials inquiring about their constituent’s safety and well-being. Seems no one in our neighborhood is there to help and it’s every man for himself.

And I think that’s what happened during the tragedy of Ondoy. After Ondoy struck, it was every man for himself. Do we see the government helping us when they’re supposed to? It’s taking them forever to act and they have the audacity to show up on TV saying they are doing everything they can to help us. Senators need a resolution to release P1M for the victims, but what is 1 million when you see Kris on TV getting pledges from their endorsements of as much as 5 million pesos in just one air time? The reason we’re banking on emergency funds from the government is because the need is immediate. But where did our emergency funds go to? Ah, you can ask Le Cirque for that and you can also go directly to Malacañang to inquire about the President’s expensive travels abroad. Maybe those were also very immediate needs for the President and her crew. What about the MMDA? Before Ondoy, we have all these advertisements on Metro Gwapo and all these grandstanding on infrastructural developments. Suddenly, post-Ondoy, Mr. Metro Gwapo is quiet. And the NDCC? Presidential candidate Gibo Teodoro was just telling us weeks and months ago in his “ads” paid by his friends about our disaster preparedness. If we were so prepared, let the body count disprove that.

No, it was every man for himself. We needed life boats, and the government couldn’t provide them to us. We don’t have medicines to give, food to keep our countrymen from getting hungry as they wait to be rescued. We don’t even have choppers and the necessary rescue operation equipments. I heard my officemate read an article that said, “ang mga pulitiko basta eleksyon, lulusubin pati ang kasuluk-sulukan ng pilipinas. Pero pag panahon ng tumulong pagkatapos ng kalamidad…” (Our politicians, when it’s time for Elections, they will go to every nook and corner of the Philippines to campaign. But when it’s time to help after a disaster…:”

No. It’s private groups leading the efforts to help out Ondoy victims. This is good and bad at the same time. It’s good because you can see how concerned everyone is, and the spirit of volunteerism is well and alive among Filipinos. But it’s bad because it gives government officials some form of “justifying” that there are others who are helping, anyway. Believe me when I say, that’s how some officials are. They are merely relying on Red Cross, international aid, the military, however limited resources are, private institutions, individuals —and like De Quiros, “you wonder why we still need government.”

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One thought on “Every Man for himself with Ondoy

  1. to make matters worse, i’ve read about relief centers getting overwhelmed by long lines inflated by people and their families going round every location for handouts. some of them are even from neighborhoods not affected by the flood. i wonder what the primary motivation is. is it survival or future profit? if the reports are true, the real needy are shortchanged.

    i’ve also read about pgma urging our representatives in congress to donate a portion of their pork barrel to the flood victims. i don’t think they have agreed to do that yet. hahaha. is this one way of proving that they aren’t “yes men” after all?

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