Haring habagat – this is the name that some people on Facebook are throwing around to call the latest series of torrential rains that has besieged Metro Manila. Habagat refers to the southwest monsoon experienced by the Philippines every year. The total volume of rainfall from this incidence has seemingly exceeded that of Ondoy in 2009. Plus, it brought schools, and trading, to a standstill; it even prompted MalacaÃ±ang to compel the private sector to suspend all operations on August 7. The Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) didnâ€™t take too kindly to that, though, but thatâ€™s another story.
Yet one would think by now that we as a people would have learned our lesson on how to handle and deal with typhoons. No, they still wreak the same havoc. They still flood our streets just the same. Many people are still displaced. The citizens go about throwing their trash just about everywhere as if nothing happened. The much needed infrastructure hasnâ€™t been built, and urban planning has been proceeding at a glacial pace, if indeed thereâ€™s any.
[Photo courtesy A1Social.]
And Pinoys, as predictable as they are, send the SOS distress signal and cry for help every time this happens. They ask for everyone to rise to the call of â€œBayanihanâ€ to help others in need. They ask for donations of clothes, food, anything that will help the victims immediately. They ask for prayers that the rain will stop, etc.
It is precisely the prevalence and ease of these band-aid solutions which gives a whole new meaning to SOS, when it comes to Pinoys:
Same old shit
Underneath it all, though, are the underlying issues that are seemingly ignored by such â€œvaliant displaysâ€ of aid: the Pinoysâ€™ lack of discipline in garbage disposal, the lack of infrastructure needed to address problems associated with rain, the lack of urban planning, and the lack of a proactive approach to mitigating the effects of rainstorms.
It was also appalling, to say the least, that there were tweets linking the heavy rains to the Reproductive Health bill. Believe it or not, these people, in their â€œfit of wisdomâ€, declared that the heavens are crying because of the RH bill. It is Godâ€™s punishment, quote unquote. And there was even a trending topic on social media marking a coincidence between the date of August 7, 2012 (8/7/12) to a verse in the Bible â€“ Genesis 8: 7-12. Your mileage may vary; some people were offended, some were mildly amused. I just think itâ€™s simply stupid. Iâ€™ll never get tired of saying that every time I think Pinoy stupidity has reached its maximum depth, it digs the hole deeper yet again.
Where was President Benigno Simeon Aquino III (PNoy) during all this time? On August 7, he was spotted at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) monitoring the effects of the rains. Reportedly last June, he was seen cruising the Pasig and Marikina rivers in a speedboat while checking on the status of several flood mitigation projects.
The other side to PNoyâ€™s story is that his administration had cancelled several projects also aimed at flood control and mitigation that were started during the term of President Arroyo. Never mind that he had no alternatives in place immediately after he cancelled them. Never mind that he was chiding flood victims who were supposedly making it hard for rescuers to do their job. After the meeting at NDRMMC, he was also quoted as saying that Filipinos supposedly feel more secure now. Secure from what, exactly? Only the President knows. Definitely weâ€™re not more secure than we were under Ondoy; in fact it is more than apparent that both the Philippine government and the Filipino people have failed to learn their lesson once again from past experiences. Miserably.
If that isnâ€™t enough to convince you, look at this photo and tell me what you see. It looks like PNoy handing out relief goods along with his allies, doesnâ€™t it? I just hope it isnâ€™t more of the papogi and epal type that has all but become the norm for politicians here in the Philippines.
So once again, expect to hear people saying that the destruction wrought by this tentatively named Haring Habagat should serve as a wake-up call to us. Yet are we going to ignore it, like we did with previous similar events? Weâ€™ve had Ondoy, Pedring, and Sendong to learn from. Where are the results?
If this is a wake-up call, Filipinos seemingly would rather hit the alarm button and go back to sleep than face the music.
Indeed, Filipinos will keep sending the SOS distress signal for many years to come, and we expect some sort of Prince charming to come and take us away from all our troubles. We even expect him to do the cleaning up for us!
The reality remains: as long as we keep doing the same old stupidity, Mother Nature will keep coming back at us even harder.
Indeed, Filipinos are insane.
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