After Anderson Cooper made a controversial report which highlighted how slow help was coming, he subsequently made a more patronizing message wherein he praised Filipino resilience after Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. It was like a sort of make-up for the first video. He probably realized he had irked a hypersensitive people, so he decided to make another one which was more “positive.” But unfortunately brought up more hype on the so-overused “resilience” of the Filipino. To be honest, I find it laughable.
Resilience becomes such a common word that it has become an excuse for lack of real preparation. Yes, the storm was stronger than most people expected, but it is still possible to avoid the number of deaths that came. Unfortunately, the attitude of Filipinos when it comes to disaster is something like, upon seeing a speeding bus that’s going for them but still far way, they wait for it to hit them and pray that they’ll survive through resilience instead of dodging it. I can’t help wonder if the national government was thinking this: forget thorough preparations, let the storm hit them, they’ll be OK and they’ll recover since they’re resilient anyway.
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But let’s say Filipinos are resilient. Yes, many are. But let us not forget that other people are resilient too. Americans, Japanese and Haitians are all resilient.
Japanese resilience after the 2011 quake is already self-explanatory because they are usually prepared and disciplined. Let’s move on to another case: Haitians. They were hit by a strong quake in 2010 and came under Hurricane Sandy in 2012. But the Haitians rebuilt their society after the quake and storm. They are also resilient.
Americans are resilient too. After Hurricane Katrina and many other storms that hit the United States, Americans battered by the storms also rebuilt their communities. They’re not the type to just sit down, cry and do nothing.
So we accept: Filipinos aren’t the only ones with resilience. Now let’s go to another useless boast that some Filipinos may be raising: Filipinos have more resilience than others. Again, completely wrong.
All countries in the world have the same levels of resilience. Contrary to what I have heard from some people, survivors in other countries are not the type who stay depressed, make mukmok (sulk) and don’t rebuild. Actually, they do. And contrary to what you believe, there are Filipinos who bog down, make mukmok (sulk) and don’t rebuild. We are not a people who are happy even if we lose our whole family. Actually, if people would compare resilience, I might argue (contrary to my earlier assertion) that Filipino resilience might be lower. A lot of families in Tacloban and other hit areas may not be able to rebuild what they lost, and may have to crowd into already shoulder-to-shoulder Metro Manila.
And again, about that “waterproof” comment:
Of course, resilience is better to have in any case. It is something you need when going through hardship, because you have to get up and keep going. But it is not something to be proud of. Resilience is not an achievement. It is nothing special.
If anything, this idea that Filipinos have special resilience, or in fact, any idea that Filipinos are special in anything, is hurting rather than helping Filipino efforts to rise up. It lulls Filipinos into a false sense of security. As a result, these Filipinos will believe everything is OK and they don’t need to do anything to have resilience. Unfortunately, this belief may have contributed to the high number of deaths in the Visayas after Haiyan.
Instead, Filipinos should realize that they have much work to do. I’m sure those in Tacloban and other hard-hit areas of the country already know that. It’s likely most of the Ivory Tower class in Manila and in government who just sit twiddling their thumbs while trying to believe that one need not do anything to be resilient.
Thus, after Haiyan, we have to redefine the concept of resilience, just as Haiti is doing. It seems that most concepts of resilience currently focus on foreign aid, which is true for the Philippines as well – and that might mean we’re not as resilient as advertised. That would need to change. We need to redefine resilience as being prepared. If anything, preparedness increases resilience. Unfortunately, a nation that’s versed only with short-term goals and general overconfidence in one’s current “resilience” is preventing such changes, and increasing the risk of greater loss of life in future storms and disasters.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.