ARE we Filipinos condemned to living out an unbreakable cycle all our lives?
One that could stars with bad habits, followed by a disaster, and then the disaster response, then soul searching (but for a limited time only) followed by bad habits then another disaster and soul searching and once more from the top?
Arguably, we are as a people good at marshalling individual efforts and putting together various campaigns directed at disaster response. Fund raising here, food and clothing collection there. Many times the ordinary citizens are even faster to respond than government: many times, too, private sector efforts at disaster relief are better organized and replete with far less controversy than the government-led ones. And whether it is a typhoon or an earthquake or, less frequently, a volcanic eruption, Filipinos in their personal capacity are quick to swing into action in an effort to do whatever they can to help ease the sufferings of those directly affected by the calamity.
Almost at the same time you see the soul searching (and finger pointing, too!). Never again, we sometimes hear. If only… why didn’t… what If. In this most recent instance of a volcanic eruption a number have faulted the PHIVOLCS for “failing” to adequately predict that Taal was going to blow its top. Which is unfair, because unlike sunrise and sunset volcanic eruptions do not occur within known time frames, and in a certain sense only God can tell when one is going to happen and how severe it will be. No preacher can say “Shtap” and Mother Nature will listen.
But then, after the sound and fury of chest beating and New Year-like resolutions, we revert to our merry ways. Families, for example, choose to live in danger zones. And no matter how much they are asked to move, many stay put, and in the process become the next disaster waiting to happen.
And when, as it does, disaster strikes again, we are back to hearing various calls for mobilization of resources to respond to the immediate needs of those directly affected by the calamity before we lapse back into soil-searching.
The half century I’ve lived has convinced me that this is a cycle that is unbreakable, one that is unending and one that will remain such till the end of time: We build a city on the edge of an active volcano’s caldera, for goodness sake!
Here’s a disaster waiting to happen: I’ve noticed how reckless many of those food delivery cyclists are. In Legaspi Village I’ve witnessed how cyclists of Food Panda disregard traffic lights and zoom past motor vehicles and pedestrians as if they were not vulnerable to mishaps. And I’ve seen this not only once, and consistently with Food Panda. What gives? I suggest the owners of Food Panda roam the metropolis and observe their riders: if it hasn’t happened yet, they’re bound one of these days to receive a call and be told that one of their riders is down.