“Ampaw”

Mother’s day 2011 started out as a breezy summer morning that turned out to be a rainy afternoon by 1500H but that didn’t deter me from trooping to the nearest mall which was SM Sucat.  I just went out yesterday to buy ice cream at SM Sucat @ 1600H but hey, guess what? I went home at 0130H!

WHY? Sucat Road was flooded thigh-high! A couple of hours of heavy rain and it becomes impassable for HOURS! No vehicle can pass through it! At around 2300H, the Local Government Unit (LGU) sent a bus with the Mayor’s face printed on the bus wrap but it never came back for the crowd that was about more than a hundred that were still stranded!

A PNP SUV parked near us. For a moment, I thought the PNP presence will help in the rescue, but they went there just to assist a man in another SUV because his vehicle’s engine conked out. There were mothers with infants braving the cold typhoon wind in plain sight of these policemen yet they do NOTHING! In less than an hour, the civilian SUV &; the PNP SUV left. The PNP SUV had no pax except for two policemen in uniform who were oblivious of the mothers with infants who were seated outside the mall cradling their babies, protecting them from the strong typhoon winds and drizzles that were rampaging on them. Weren’t police supposed to serve and protect? That’s how it is in the places I’ve been to but maybe not in my part of the world.

At 0100H, there were still crowds at the mall, some can be seen sleeping at the fast food resto that made full advantage of the situation. Though the joint was only capable of serving burgers, drinks and H2O to the famished and stressed mallers, their sofas did provide a soft bunk for many. What is unfortunate to see, is that most of the elderly and the very young were left outside the mall or in the lobby to rest and wait through the subsiding flood. No one in the mall management even organized that the families with the old and the very young be comfortably settled in a place more suited for them. The only good thing that SM Sucat did was take initiative in the distribution of chairs and keep the mall open until heaven only knows up to what unholy hour, otherwise many of the stranded without vehicles had to endure the cold floors  made worse by the strong icy winds outside of the mall. I should have taken a video of the incident but I had my youngest child sleeping snugly on my lap in the safety of our vehicle. I am a mother first and foremost.

For a city as well oiled as Parañaque with all the businesses and land owners regularly paying their local government dues in the permits, “amilyar” and in every transaction made in the city,  I expected more but just like the Pacquaio-Mosley fight that made Mother’s day, Manny’s day without much thrill, the “rescue” operation of the LGU and the local police was “ampaw”. What is “ampaw”? It is nothing but puffed rice. A local “Popcorn” so to speak, that may be sweet (Pinoy style) or salty (Binondo style).

The word “ampaw” has somehow devolved over the years into a street lingo for a windbag or for someone who is full of hot air, so much like the ampaw’s deceptively solid appearance, bite into it and you get nothing but air.

Photo courtesy of http://panlasangpinoy.com/2010/01/25/how-to-make-the-perfect-rice-puff-dessert/

Not much in nutrition and not much sustainability. Much like the “pa-pogi” operation that the Parañaque LGU did on that fateful 2011 Mother’s day, all for show and not much on impact. Only the deluded buy stunts like the one the LGU did with their Local government bus project in a “rescue” mission that commenced and concluded with a single trip.

 

So much inconvenience caused by a few hours of heavy rains and so little effort seen from the people who could have done something for the very people who fuel the political and business machines they operate. Heavy rains are a staple in our country but flash floods are avoidable.

Only if taxes are properly utilized to serve the taxpayers; only if LGU’s have the sincerity to serve its constituents and not capitilize on the multiplying squatters  in the city’s arteries; only if all the local law enforcement have the moral ascendancy to fulfill their duty; only if Filipinos would learn to put their Filipino pride beyond the shadow of Pacquaio and show genuine love of country by not abusing and polluting the only land that we may call ours. Only if.

Until then, “ampaw” we all are.

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About Ms. Mike Portes

Mike is the author of "Minsan may Isang Puta", an allegory which has been circulating since 2004 and with over 50,000 likes and shares in social media alone. It won a film grant in 2010 to be included in the multi-narrative Indie film "Ganap na Babae" (International title: Garden of Eve). The teaser, reviews and commentaries are here. The movie was honored as Cinemalaya 2010's opening film and has won international and local recognition. The royalties from the initial 150 copies of Mike's first sole-authored book, The Dove Files, went to a Project Malasakit scholar who graduated Cum Laude in April 2013, the rest was also paid forward to baby Mark who underwent a liver transplant in March 2013. Part of the royalties of the "Minsan may Isang Puta" book at Barnes and Noble Online goes to support the education of a young Yolanda survivor taking up B.S. Accounting at U.P. Tacloban.

8 Comments on ““Ampaw””

  1. This is the weakness of Filipinos: we lack emphathy to our fellow human beings…as long as we are comfortable. Other people, may be in need. Yet, we don’t care…This was exemplified by those Policemen. They should had helped. Or at least, asked for assistance from government units, for help of the people.
    We just don’t care…if people are living around the garbage dumps; if people are eating Pag-Pag foods; if people live like Rats…As long, as we are comfortable in our lives…it’s okay for us…

  2. This is why I’m so dickishly up front about saying I really do not give a damn about post-disaster relief. And there are two reasons behind it:

    1. I’d rather be called a dick for saying I don’t care than a hypocrite for saying I do care and not actually helping, and
    2. There is really no incentive to actually helping. People will simply start depending on you to actually help them more until you’re worn out enough that they’ll call you a hypocrite anyway. (see 1.)

    This is also why I wish for one grand disaster. Seems disaster reaction is too decentralized that all the effects and media bawling is concentrated on one particular region, thus not making it “relevant” to anyone else.

    Yet even one grand disaster might not be able to overcome our infamously reactionary response to recovery – breeding at such a rapid rate that it would nullify any damage to the total population in a short time span.

  3. I suppose the real question is how is it possible to change such a deeply engrained sense of self-entitlement, and uncaring, as that which is the main undercurrent of all Filipino activities. It must start with individuals who decide to behave differently, who stop for pedestrians in the cross walk, who walk a few paces to put their trash in a trash bin, who smile at people who come to their service desk for help, who let women and children go first. Who are willing to bear the catcalls of others for changing their ways. It takes a lot of small courtesies and courage to change a nation.

    1. It starts there, but that’s where it also ends because the rest simply pass off their responsibilities to them and then criticize them when they end up bearing more load than they can handle.

  4. “World-class” civil service. Taxes spent in a “world-class” way.

    Yan ang Pinoy! Tunay na “world-class!”

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