Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Typhoons and floods. Cause and Effect. Indifference and Loss of Lives.


tropical paradise
Basking in the sun… frolicking on the beach… snorkeling in the blue clear waters.  It's your ideal tropical paradise getaway.  Wouldn't it be nice to do all of these things any time of the year?  Yes, of course.  It'll be fantastic.  It's just like what Rachel Berry of Glee thought about my country, the Philippines.  Some people (if not a lot) think that it's 365 days of warm sunny days in the tropical region which includes the Philippines.  Dead wrong!  Sunshine Corazon played by Charice, in reply to Rachel Berry said, "well, except for the monsoon...".  A monsoon is a seasonal prevailing wind in the region of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, blowing from the southwest between May and September, bringing in rain and in most cases typhoons.  We Filipinos consider the start of the "rainy season" on June.  In fact, we just experienced the first storm of the year last weekend, and as a usual annual occurrence, we are expecting 15 to 20 more.  Can you believe it?  It does kind of break your tropical paradise notion, doesn't it?


The year was 2009.  Deadly Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy in the vernacular) left a devastating mark in the heart of the Philippines.  The capital region, Metro Manila, on that fateful day of September 26 was horribly slashed by massive floods that resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives, displacement of more than a hundred thousand families, and destroyed billions of Pesos worth of properties.  At that time, I was trapped in my home, a condominium unit, for three days with very little food and water, and no electricity.  I was lucky!

the exodus
On the fourth day, people in our condominium building and I, rode a dump truck out of the shoulder-deep flooded condo-complex.  While riding on that garbage truck, I took these pictures and video clips.  The exodus of the people fleeing their homes with most of them bravely walking the deep flood is still fresh in my memory like it was just yesterday.  Watch the short video clip at the bottom of this post and see how terrible the flood was.

In 2011, barely six months ago, during the Christmas holiday, the deadliest typhoon has hit the Philippines.  The raging flash floods caused by Typhoon Washi (Sendong in the vernacular) has claimed quite a number of lives and devastated major cities in the southern part of the Philippines, in Mindanao.  The number of people dead climbed to thousands and still a lot are missing up to now.

ruined car
I always remember these tragic events because they serve as fervent reminders of the force of nature, the arrogance of humans, and how our lives and demise are greatly influenced by our indifference to Mother Earth.  Let me explain…


Cyclones just like Tsunamis, twisters, and earthquakes are forces of nature.  We already know that!  We also know that we already have in our hands hundreds of years of data, as well as significant findings of scientific observations and research from all over the world.  How come then that we still lose lives and properties from typhoons such as Ketsana and Washi?

ruined ATM
I bet you can readily enumerate a dozen reasons.  For me, the significant cause is indifference.  A candy wrapper or a cigarette butt thrown out there.  "No biggie", you think.  Some developers build apartment complexes and malls beside a river.  Some parts of the river have to be reclaimed in order to complete the development project.  "It's progress", you say.  Trees were cut for lumber but moreso to clear that part of the mountain where ores and minerals will be mined.  "It provides a steady source of income for the local people", you claim.

Meanwhile, drainage systems and sewers are clogged by the carelessly thrown candy wrappers, cigarette butts, plastic bottles, and other non-biodegradable wastes.  RIvers and tributaries gets smaller and narrower due to nearby real estate development.  The narrowed waterways become bottlenecks where the flow of water to the sea slowed down if not completely halted, causing floods.  Mountains are eroding simply because there are no more trees holding the soil and absorbing the water running down from the top.  Some mountains are even flattened due to excessive mining.


In the guises of (1) thought-to-be-harmless and petty actions, (2) progress, and (3) seemingly job-generating developments, we harm nature!  This is our indifference to Mother Earth.  We then suffer the consequences of our own actions.

I always say that the things around us immediately change when we change our thoughts.  Take action!  Stop the indifference!  Care for nature now!  When we care for Mother Earth, we care for all humankind...

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