What Typhoon Sendong’s destruction of Cagayan de Oro City says again about us

While scanning the news the other day, a friend of mine made a rather glib remark. She said that Filipinos have lately been so fixated on their petty politics — the bickering among politicians and justices over the jurisdiction of their respective offices — that the only way to force people to step back from all that and get a bit of perspective will require no less than “another Ondoy”. And then Typhoon Sendong (international code name “Wasi”) strikes. In one night, flash floods caused by heavy rains snuffed out more than 400 lives in northern Mindanao in and around Cagayan de Oro City.

Just 24 hours ago, our concerns were about how the impact of the sort of political pettiness we’ve seen in recent weeks and the disruption to the normal operations of the affected government agencies would play out over the next several months — its impact on a neglected economy and the demoralising effects on Philippine society of the instability the conflict was causing. All of a sudden the issue had become acute and singular, and the answer to the question of whether or not politicians — Filipino politicians — really do make a difference in Philippine society where it counts becomes clear — crystal clear to people like the father of the dead little girl in that photo (not the one included in this article) being passed around all over the Net.

To make the perspective we gain out of the appalling tragedy of Typhoon Sendong more relevant, I defer to what my colleague Ben Kritz wrote earlier, where he points out how the current government of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III responded to the disaster using a three-pronged approach: (1) order the relevant agencies to assist the victims, (2) order a review of disaster response procedures to identify where the lapses occurred, and (3) identify and highlight where local officials and residents were negligent in mounting a proper response to advanced warnings issued by the national government.

This is pretty much a textbook approach to how an all-too-typical Philippine government would manage public relations in the aftermath of a disaster in which it was seen to be ineffective. As Kritz points out, for a government that ran on a platform premised upon being no way like the previous administration of its nemesis, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (and continues to campaign to that tune today), the point of how Presidents quite simply do not matter to the average Filipino was called out as loudly as ever. Back in 2009 Ondoy left Arroyo’s government looking like an ineffectual lump of bureaucracy and bad policies. Aquino’s looks no better (and probably fares worse) in the aftermath of Sendong today.

Next president, plez.

Perhaps because of how it was the national capital city that Typhoon Ondoy struck back in 2009, the loud soul-searching and Bayanihan grandstanding was a lot more perceptible then. But Sendong struck some city somewhere in the “southern Philippines”. So perhaps the vast distance from Imperial Manila implied by the fact that the disaster happened somewhere in the south gives President Noynoy Aquino the option to visit the calamity area sometime “shortly after Christmas”. Indeed, he reportedly may just do that.

Whatever the case, finger-pointing and blame-mongering have never been in short supply whenever disaster strikes. What is glaringly lacking are results and improved approaches to mitigating risk given the nature of the country’s geographical location and climate. And we see now how despite politicians selling to their voters the notion that they are different — even special — the reality is a lot starker: they are all essentially the same. And because we latch on to the same things over and over, we can expect the same things to happen again and again.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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147 Comments on "What Typhoon Sendong’s destruction of Cagayan de Oro City says again about us"

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I’m predicting that Noynoy would blame gloria again for this screw up. No wait… he always does that.
All coming from a president who’s all bark but no bite.

wilfredo c. cosico

You did not mention that GMA administration had identified areas prone to flash floods and proposed flood control projects. Aquino cancelled them all.


One doesn’t have to be a president to have a heart, and say “Wow, that’s really awful. My thoughts and prayers are with the people affected.” He couldn’t even come up with that.

Sociopath, like Ilda wrote in article the other day. No capacity for empathy.

Vincenzo B. Arellano

Mbuti ngat may gnawang plano na si Tito Noy para sa Disaster group upang mailigtas ang mga kababayan natin don. Hindi ksi trabaho ni Tito Noy magpaphoto-op agad agad upang makita lamang na nagtatrabaho. Hnd tulad ni Gloria,bwat kilometro nilalakbay mo, makikita mo mukha nya

Party ( and partly political) songs for frustrated entertainers/politicians In From The Storm by Jimi Hendrix “It was a terrible rain burnin’ my eyes/ The wind and lightning took us by surprise” Mayor of cdo Barbara streisand “dont rain on my parade” Partying P-noy – see you all after xmas if its dry. In hiding – i mean conference God bless all those affected. “We’ll walk this world together through the storm (Now some of you) Whatever weather, cold or warm (Might still be in that place) Just lettin’ you know that you’re not alone (If you’re tryin’ to get… Read more »
i’m from cagayan de oro and i am one of those who immediately went to the areas affected the morning after the hell night. believe me, mr. president and mr. benito, blaming people because they were complacent is not exactly the right words to say now. unless you’ve been to similar situations, stop making assumptions! our city mayor in an interview disclosed that cdo was not warned. bullshit. ndrcc blaming the people. another bullshit. if people were not so caught up with all these partisan politics drama, they would’ve been able to address “little” projects like dredging the river. these… Read more »
Der Fuhrer

OK… I want to post a good typhoon tracking site that is better than PAGASA. It might help those in need of accurate and up to date information.

Please see: http://www.typhoon2000.ph

Der Fuhrer

Calling the dictator Aquino…
You focused too much on your political power play games and your hate objects.

Its not the disaster management plan stupid!
It is the complete failure(or lack) of an emergency early warning system!

Because of you and your team lapses hundreds of people died.

President aquino A day in the life of… Dear diary Sunday 18 dec 7 days until santa Morning – shooting ( pretended the targets were corona) Afternoon – planning meeting of ‘get corona war commitee’ Walk with friend and his dog ‘pavlov’ Why pavlov – everytime he is in trouble he goes and hides under the table and licks his …. (Sounds familiar!) Evening – PSG xmas party at malacanan. ? Singsong – sure, you hum it – i’ll sing it. Oh a storm…. sendong. Ask binay. I’m busy with politicking & corona and valerie concepcion ++++ @v_concepcion Done w/… Read more »

Emergency! Incoming PR disaster. Calling all n0ytards. Haha. Just wait.

Vincenzo B. Arellano

Ayon naman pla eh,gago tlga yang Gloria na yan. Kta mo pnapayagan ang pagtotroso tpos pg nadamay na ang tao wla sya pakeelam. Dpt tlga mbulok yang si Gloria sa selda. At hnd ako naniniwla na dumami, mga kalaban ni Tito Noy at ng gobyerno ngssbi non.

ana maria beleganio

Ikaw ba may nagawa sa kapwa mo sa pinsa?


Nero fiddled whilst rome burnt.
P-noy partied whilst cdo drowned.

“Madman, tyrant, cruel, debauched, egotistical,
narcissistic, selfish, delusional all of these words
and more describe the reign of Nero. It is little
wonder that Nero or young Domitius as he was
formerly known, was unstable and crazed in his
adult life because his early childhood and
formative years were far from secure and
stable. he lacked discipline and suitable role


another tweet re p-noys work ethic!
and sunday morning at mall buying sound equipment.
the boy’s a fool!

iamdinahope super saya ng
party sa malacanang.. 🙂 nice
dance president #noy ! Nakiparty
dn sya!

iamdinahope going to
malacanang with kuya randy
santiago! My gosh first time
namin mkakapasok dun!hehe
thanks to kuya randz..: -)


[…] comments jay said another tweet re p-noys work ethic! and sunday morning at mall buying sound equipment. the boy&#8217…DaidoKatsumi said PINSA? Ano iyon? Siguro iyon ang tirahan ng mga UTAK SQUATTER. Hindi ka talaga […]

Der Fuhrer
This is in reference to henchman Vincenzo and all the followers of the dictator. The mostly black propaganda style of Mr. Aquino shows. Their statements are not premised on truth. Make no mistake about it, he is the leader(not the people) as he sets all the bad examples. The dictum of the new order is apparent. Their leader has adopted deceit and lies as an instrument of public policy. Thus his lies become truths while real truths are made to appear as lies. Most have seen this emerging pattern. All will agree that it is destructive and divisive to Mr.… Read more »

[…] “enjoying [the] performance” of Filipino starlet Valerie Concepcion even as the death toll from Typhoon Sendong climbed to more than 400 in Cagayan de Oro City. If we have to believe the said reports, then […]


[…] “enjoying [the] performance” of Filipino starlet Valerie Concepcion even as the death toll from Typhoon Sendong climbed to more than 400 in Cagayan de Oro City. If we have to believe the said reports, then […]


There are a lot of Mining going on in Mindanao
It is to be expected that there will be a big flood…
the government doesn’t care if the people in Mindanao perish or even if the whole Mindanao is to go underwater
they just need the little money that the foreigners give
Visayas will be next it will start at Palawan

bwisit na buhay to
putanginang gobyerno yan sarili lang ang iniintindi..
Putangina nyong nasa gobyerno na makasarili maranasan nyo sana ang hirap na nararanasan ng mga naghihirap sa mindanao

What I hate about this flood-disasters that perennially happen everywhere in the Philippines is the simplistic finger-pointing to illegal logging activities (and mining activities). Not that I support illegal logging (heck, I’m actually against it) and I’m a bit partial about mining, the real cause of flood can actually be explained if you’re familiar with the hydrologic process. As I have mentioned in another forum, the cause can be described by the following hydrologic process: 1.) Precipitation (rainfall intensity) exceeds the rate of absorption of natural ground and the vegetation cover (infriltration) and the environments’ capacity to evaporate (evapo-transpiration) its… Read more »