2 Lessons -- One Is Obvious But The Other Is Glorious -- From Typhoon Ondoy
I cheered when a radio commentator, during the rescue operations for the victims of typhoon Ondoy, boomed: “Let’s set aside politics for the moment! Let’s forget about blame and just focus on how we can help. But, ah, when this is over, I already know the people I’m going to curse!” During the initial damage control assessment, the National Disaster Coordinating Agency, under the Department of National Defense, was forced to admit they had only 14 rubber boats nationwide. The prospects, if not the situation, improved when Greenpeace and the United States Navy stepped in to help.
Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, naturally, was on top of the situation already – way ahead of the government – the de facto point man for emergencies. Gosh darn it, this man should be President!
That’s the first lesson from Ondoy – the Philippine government is not equipped for disaster management, not to mention search and rescue operations. I will not go into that but here’s something else I picked up from dzMM: the vice mayor of a Metro Manila city allegedly insisted on being rescued and riding on a rubber boat – even though the water was only up to his waist. Maybe he’s wearing super expensive pants.
The second lesson from Ondoy is the exact opposite – Filipinos can still show heroism in a crisis. The TV images of people wailing and gnashing their teeth eclipsed the steady heroisms of volunteers and donors. As of writing, Sagip Kapamilya, the relief arm of the ABS-CBN Foundation, has nearly reached the PhP100M mark from pledges and donatons. Volunteers, students in groups mostly, are streaming in. Celebrities hosted and manned the phones in their fund-raising telethon.
People, to quote Kris Aquino, “opened their hearts, wallets and bank accounts.” The stars shoned brightest during this dark hour. Richard Gutierrez stormed his way through Ondoy to rescue Christine Reyes and her family; Gerald Anderson defied the deep waters to help his neighbors – Happiness! Typhoon Ondoy wrought devastation to our country, but it also brought out the best in us, making us all living witnesses that, in the aftermath of the deluge, it is a proud thing to be a Filipino again.