While the typhoon raged last Friday, I remember thinking, “This isn’t too bad. I’m scared, but I expected worse.” And I thought it would be the same elsewhere. I thought with all the warnings and all the reports, people would be more prepared.
And now, seeing the havoc that Yolanda caused in Tacloban, in most parts of Cebu and the rest of the Visayas, I can’t help but feel immense guilt. Guilt for even thinking that way, guilt for surviving unscathed. Guilt for being okay while thousands lost their lives and homes and means of living.
My heart is breaking. I never thought it would cause so much damage. Over the weekend, the sun shone bright in Cebu and I stayed home with the boyfriend praying that other places had a similar fate. We didn’t watch the news, we didn’t even go out because I was sick. So when I arrived at the office today and saw all the reports, I was devastated.
And amidst all that I’ve read, nothing hit closer to home than what Georgia Jauslin (https://www.facebook.com/georgia.jauslin) wrote:
By Georgia Jauslin
I didn’t want to post this but I can’t hold it in much longer. The unpopular opinion is always controversial but Facebook asked me what’s on my mind, so here it goes.
It is a wonderful trait of Filipinos to be positive and resilient in times of adversity, which is indeed an admirable aspect of the Philippine culture. However, I cannot help but feel nauseated by this CNN comment that has been so countlessly shared across social networking sites which for me, seems to make people miss the bigger picture.
Because having such “resilience” is not going to erase the facts – the facts that we have known for the last one hundred years. The Philippines is in the motherfreakin’ Ring of Fire. On top of that, we are a favorite destination for typhoons and tropical storms yet our country remains completely unprepared for such disasters. It rains for a couple of hours in Manila and the whole city gets flooded. Storms browse through our country and we remain to gamble with the odds. These things, among others, have been happening for the past decades. It’s NOTHING NEW. Yet each time disaster strikes, we act like it’s the first time.
I just don’t understand how we can remain so brainwashed to believe that somehow, things are even REMOTELY ACCEPTABLE, because somehow, we always make it through, somehow things work out fine for the Filipino people, that we forget to see what is happening right under our noses – People die. People that shouldn’t be dead are dead now. Thousands of people lost their homes and that shouldn’t be the case.
I know many people say that the government can’t control everything. The last time I criticized the government, many people didn’t take that kindly at all. But what we forget is that this is the government’s responsibility. That’s what the government is for. Something as big as this is not civil responsibility but our deserved right from the government. We cannot manage such an aggregate, macroeconomic part of our country on our own – that’s why this is the government’s responsibility. We cannot always rely on private funding and charity from local and international sources to fix these problems. It is NOT okay that corrupt government officials get to burn millions of dollars for their personal pleasures and they can’t give us an infrastructure and disaster plans that the people deserve to SURVIVE.
I think what is happening in this country is a terrible crime against humanity – a blatant neglect of the government against the people. Please don’t let any form of misguided nationalism blind you from the truth. The Filipinos are such good-natured people and the government is taking advantage of exactly that – our resilience. And the only reason why I wasted my time writing this is not to criticize or hate but because we have such a beautiful country – and we deserve better.
And I go back to thinking about what my mom used to say when she talked about her younger years. During her time, people used to care, especially the youth. They staged riots, they took to the streets whenever the government messed up. They wrote propaganda, they spread the word not meekly, as we are now wont to do, but right where it mattered. They gave a fuck. Now, we (I) look at protesters and activists with a hint of disdain; because they dare to act, they dare to do something about the mess we’re in. And in doing so, they disrupt our lives. They cause traffic, they flood the news, their desperation sometimes nothing short of pathetic. We’ve become so jaded, so cynical that we look at these bursts of heroism as nothing more than a nuisance.
And this is exactly why nothing is happening to our country. I know there are a lot of people who think like I do. We’ve become so apathetic, so convinced that nothing will change that any thought of doing something seems futile right from the beginning, a seed doomed to die.
Not anymore. Today, my team and I began planning a benefit concert and a donation drive for the typhoon victims. I want to do something big. By myself, I know I can’t give much, but by bringing in the people around me at work and my friends and social media, I am hoping that we can give back so much more to those people.
The first step is always the most difficult. The time to act is now.