RESILIENT FILIPINOS THANK THE WORLD!

Thank you, World, for showing what genuine compassion and humanity are all about!

Eastern Samar Congressman Ben Evardone, whose district was one of the hardest hit by the typhoon, said the overwhelming concern shown by the international community to the Philippines has rekindled hope in devastated
communities. “We are all touched by the love and friendship extended to victims of Typhoon Haiyan from across the seas. It means a lot especially at this time because the needs are immense and urgent,” Congressman Evardone said.


ALSO: Do not say that the ‘Filipino spirit is waterproof’

The National Capital Region weathers its share of disaster, but as a resident of Dasmarinas Village, I wish to take the license to pose a polemic counterfactual. What would our national policy look like if Dasmarinas Village or Forbes Park were the areas destroyed on a yearly basis? Would we cheerfully send each other images of us playing full basketball games in the Forbes Park court in waist-deep water? Would we tell one another that the “Filipino spirit is waterproof” and fail to invigorate national disaster prevention policies? The Filipino spirit is indeed waterproof, but without the certainty of yearly destruction, disproportionate suffering, entrenched inequality, and government irresponsibility, it could also be far more. Commentary by NICOLE DEL ROSARIO CUUNJIENG, MANILA TIMES


RESILIENT FILIPINOS THANK THE WORLD!

PHILIPPINES, DECEMBER 2, 2013 (ARABNNEWS.COM) Posted on November 19, 2013, Susan V. Ople - Hope springs among the ruins as helping hands reach out across the world to send help to victims of super Typhoon Haiyan. Today, foreign aid for typhoon victims has reached $271 million.

In Saudi Arabia, diplomatic officials and Filipino nationals welcomed news about the Saudi king’s donation to typhoon victims with profound appreciation.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has ordered the donation of SR37.5 million ($10m) to typhoon victims.

According to the official government website, the Department of Social Welfare and Development would be the conduit for this donation. These funds will go a long way in keeping several evacuation centers running, while making sure that child victims and the elderly get the care that they deserve.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis who served as Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1999 to 2002 noted that, “Such gesture of magnanimity and generosity of King Abdullah to the survivors of typhoon Haiyan in Eastern Visayas is reflective of the Saudi royal family’s soft heart for the Filipinos. When the situation comes to a crunch, the Saudi royal family always comes to the rescue of Filipinos.”

This sentiment was echoed by Jebee Kenji Solis, one of the founders of PEBA, an association of overseas Filipino bloggers: “Millions of overseas Filipinos including all of us in the Kingdom will forever carry a deep feeling of gratitude to the king and the royal family, and the people of Saudi Arabia.”

Eastern Samar Congressman Ben Evardone, whose district was one of the hardest hit by the typhoon, said the overwhelming concern shown by the international community to the Philippines has rekindled hope in devastated communities.

“We are all touched by the love and friendship extended to victims of Typhoon Haiyan from across the seas. It means a lot especially at this time because the needs are immense and urgent,” Congressman Evardone said. He also expressed concern over the economic survival of calamity-hit areas that were 90 percent dependent on coconut plantations for copra production.

“Acres of crops including coconut trees were either pulled out by the roots or flattened to the ground. It would take 5 to 10 years to grow new ones,” he lamented.

Bright spots have recently emerged beginning with the restoration of Tacloban City’s water supply to serve an estimated 150,000 residents. The labor department is finalyzing its emergency employment program in partnership with local government units. It has also opened a call center at its provincial office in Trece Martires, Tacloban City where victims can call their relatives overseas for free.

Massive assistance from the United States that sent more than 50 ships and aircraft including the massive aircraft carrier USS George Washington has made a huge difference in ground operations.

An Australian emergency field hospital in Tacloban City is now treating patients, making full use of its 50-bed ward, an operating theater and a recovery room.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government has launched a website that would allow Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and throughout the world to monitor the inflow of donations from international sources.

The portal known as Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), accessible via www.gov.ph/faith, will provide information on humanitarian aid donated to the Philippine government. If the donations are coursed through government agencies — specifically the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Office of Civil Defense of the Department of National Defense (DND) — the portal will show how the funds were spent.

As typhoon victims slowly recover, the entire nation finds comfort in problems being solved, day-by-day.

This week, water supply has been restored at least in Tacloban City. Next month, electricity will light up the afflicted communities.

None of these would have been possible without your help and prayers. Thank you, World, for showing what genuine compassion and humanity are all about.

Email: toots.ople@yahoo.com

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Do not say that the ‘Filipino spirit is waterproof’ November 17, 2013 9:17 pm by NICOLE DEL ROSARIO CUUNJIENG

One of the strongest storms to ever make landfall, Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, has had a lacerating impact that outstrips the destruction of disasters in recent Philippine history.

It is depressing to witness, and at times it seems that the only uplifting images and affirmations to arise from such scenes, which continually accrue in our historical memory, are those of the unconquerable Filipino spirit—images of full basketball games carried on in waist-deep water and of a man joyfully tearing through a street intersection on a jet ski, and the now ubiquitous slogan “The Filipino spirit is waterproof.”

These are moving, and are a testament to the fact of our geography. But, they also turn what is gross government irresponsibility into a virtue, and pointedly underscore the ways in which suffering in the Philippines falls disproportionately, if not exclusively, on the impoverished.

The Filipino spirit is waterproof due to geographical necessity and government failure.

Rigoberto Tiglao’s recent article in this paper, “Nations must confront the curse of typhoons,” published on November 9, 2013, quoted a Jesuit missionary writing in 1668 on the impact of the Philippine storms. F. I. Alzina wrote: “This type of hurricane is a very strong tempest, so many and so strong hitting these islands that neither Virgil nor Ovid nor any other poet I have read can describe its destructive power. These occur very often and we suffer so much, that even after experiencing them, it is difficult to believe these can happen.”

The frequency and extent of the destruction that the Philippines experiences yearly must seem unimaginable to many non-Filipinos.

As Japan does, the Philippines sits atop one of the most volatile tectonic areas on the planet, but, unlike Japan, it is under geological assault from all sides, squeezed between the Eurasian and Pacific Plates, with several micro-plates constituting the Philippine Plate.

The Philippines ranked the highest in the U.S. government’s 2006 ‘storm index’ (calculated based on damage wrought, number of people affected, and number of years in which storms occurred). Importantly, in 2011, the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security ranked the Philippines third on the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change.

The institute calculated this latter ranking, however, based not only on unavoidable exposure to natural disaster, but also on each country’s susceptibility to damage due to the state of its infrastructure, economy, early warning systems, preparedness measures, disaster response, and ability to adapt to future disasters. (See Kristine L. Alave’s October 7, 2011 article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer for further information.)

The Climate Reality Project told us what we already know from experience: that a lack of solid waste management, long-term deforestation, and massive land conversion multiply the effects of natural disaster in the Philippines.

Moreover, the dearth of ready infrastructure to mitigate the impact of our expected storms subjects the poorest people in our country to the worst of our geography and the worst of our government’s irresponsibility.

As Tiglao wrote on November 9, we need to: install water-pumping stations; dredge the garbage-filled rivers that unnecessarily exacerbate the effects of flooding, especially in the slums; establish a full, national chain of permanent, bunker-style, fortified, fully-provisioned evacuation centers; further support the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council; and fund the design of low-cost housing built to withstand the effects of storms and earthquakes.

The National Capital Region weathers its share of disaster, but as a resident of Dasmarinas Village, I wish to take the license to pose a polemic counterfactual.

What would our national policy look like if Dasmarinas Village or Forbes Park were the areas destroyed on a yearly basis?

Would we cheerfully send each other images of us playing full basketball games in the Forbes Park court in waist-deep water?

Would we tell one another that the “Filipino spirit is waterproof” and fail to invigorate national disaster prevention policies?

The Filipino spirit is indeed waterproof, but without the certainty of yearly destruction, disproportionate suffering, entrenched inequality, and government irresponsibility, it could also be far more.


Nicole Del Rosario CuUnjieng
is a PhD Student in Southeast Asian
and International History at Yale University

 


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