Slices of Life: Yolanda Edition

There are simply too much issues at hand, too much things to say, and too much words that have yet to be said. I may have outgrown talking to the television, or reacting, rather… but I sure as hell have not outgrown being opinionated about the pressing issues unfolding around me. Before I get into the ‘critical points’, a recap of the events at hand:

One of the strongest typhoons ever recorded struck the Philippines last November 8, 2013, battering several cities, particularly in the Visayas area. The aftermath of the typhoon has left behind devastation that is beyond catastrophic– lives have been lost and homes have been destroyed. The scene is simply a terrible sight to behold. In the wake of the tragedy, international aid has come in from several countries amounting to billions of pesos in cash and relief goods.

1. Faith in Humanity: Restored

> Who would have thought that help would come this way? The magnitude of international monetary aid is simply overwhelming. On top of the local donations, which have (as of this writing), already reached the ten thousand million peso mark, countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Japan, Israel and even China have sent over more help to the victims of Yolanda. Yet now that the aid has come, the next step is getting that aid to the people who need it the most. This has effectively become the bigger concern, as logistical issues and infrastructure damage has made dispatching goods a thousand times harder.

Verdict: If I were to write about these logistical issues, I would simply be just another social media complainer making angal about our sucky government. I’d rather not do that. Instead, I propose a number of solutions that the government and the private sector could take into consideration when approaching the issue.

Logistical Issues:

a. Clean up Crew: Before dispatching, deploy a clean up crew that could survey damaged roads and formulate the quickest alternative to getting to affected areas. Once this has been done, that’s when the goods should be sent out. This is not something that should take much time– there is a need for a sense of urgency.

With regards to monitoring the monetary donations both from local and international donors:

a. Local Donors: ABS-CBN and GMA should not just continue to solicit donations. They should also consider giving those who donated money to their relief effort the opportunity to monitor where the money is heading. Yes, they may flash huge figures during specific intervals of their broadcast to give us an idea of how much pledges have come in, but even they should know that the effort does not end there. Dear local networks, please try to formulate a donor tracker application (on iOs and Android) that will allow donors to track where their cash donations are being sent out– when I mean sent out, I mean specific amounts, specific locations and specific use of the cash. This should not just apply to the monetary help, also to the goods. It won’t be enough to tell us that “x number of donations were sent to y town”: we want PROOF. Magdala kayo ng camera sa location, at ipakita niyo sa amin na andoon nga ang mga donasyon namin. The same applies to other private organizations that are conducting relief efforts– MONITOR where your money and the goods that you worked hard to repack will go. Make sure that they have reached the prime dispatching locations, and that they will be sent out. Our effort does not end in repacking. MO-NI-TOR.

b. International Monetary Aid: The working Filipino should have learned their lesson from the PDAF scandal– watch your money. It may not be OUR money this time, but it is money that has been given to our government in order to provide aid to OUR countrymen. Let’s work together to make sure that this cash will go where it needs to go: the verbal assurance of the government will not suffice in order to reassure the Filipino that this money will be used correctly. Seriously, fellow citizens, don’t you think that they are underestimating us by simply giving us verbal reassurance? HELLOOO kaka-PDAF scandal lang, do you really think we’re ready to trust you with money, Philippine government? Please, as our elected leaders, do afford us the courtesy of transparency through implementation. In other words, SHOW US WHERE THE MONEY GOES.

On a lighter, less aggravating note, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the international and local aid coming in. I also propose that after everything, we offer a simple token of gratitude to those that have helped us in this dire time of need. Note: SIMPLE. 😉

2. Kahiya

In this age of vast technological innovation, it would actually suffice to gift Noynoy the moniker: ‘Administration with Most Foreign Coverage Pagkakahiya’– if that makes any sense. The Philippines first received negative international attention in the wake of the Hong Kong hostage crisis (yes, we were on CNN, people). The second time is looking to be a thousand times worse, aaand it happened in the same administration (not coincidental, but unfortunate…).

You know your country is in deep shit (excuse me) when you have veteran reporters like Anderson Cooper and Andrew Stevens (both are experienced in visiting warzones), covering the tragedy that happened in your country. Frequent viewers of CNN should have hopefully realized this by now.

Verdict:  In this case, it isn’t the fact that what happened in our country was covered by foreign media that makes this situation so shameful. It is the fact that the ineptitude of our government was once more magnified on a global scale. The first time, it was the Philippine police, the second time: it was the government as a whole. Isn’t that sad?

One can do nothing more than feel disappointed whilst watching the report of Anderson Cooper about the slowness of relief efforts. Who wouldn’t be the least bit ashamed upon hearing reporters question our government’s capability in the wake of the disaster? Diba, nakakahiya?

The attitude of the interviewed officials did nothing to aid in the situation. I understand that Mar Roxas must be particularly stressed at the moment, but as a politician, he still should have taken into account the need to be just a little bit courteous when speaking to foreign media. I’m not saying he was being a total ass and all, but one could sense a very rude tone in the way that he spoke to CNN’s Andrew Stevens. In the case of Noynoy, he sounded more civil (malamang, he’s the President), but the way he blamed the LGUs for a lack of response was particularly questionable- especially since the local government has said that even they were unaware of the magnitude of the storm that was coming.

3. Nagsalita ka pa, teh?

Following Anderson Cooper’s report on the events in Tacloban, local broadcaster Korina Sanchez allegedly criticized Cooper, saying that he “did not know what he was talking about”, a remark that visibly angered netizens.

Verdict: I am not about to overreact on this, especially because of the fact that Korina’s quote is not actually a direct quote (at least according to the Rappler story on this issue), but it did happen, and it is visibly disappointing. Comparing Korina Sanchez and Anderson Cooper is like comparing David and Goliath. For those who don’t know, Anderson is a very well-educated individual (Political Science at Yale)  whose experience on the field includes broadcasting  from dangerous warzones all over the world. Can we really say the same for Korina? I need not say more: an obvious question gets an obvious answer.

4. Mga Makakapal na Mukha

a. Scammers, even in the wake of Yolanda? E-mails are reportedly circulating from fake foundations soliciting donations for Yolanda.

Verdict: ARE YOU SERIOUS? Hay, such is simply a testament to the fact that despite the good things that happen in the world, bad people still exist.

b. Mukha sa Bag Mo Are politicians still putting their faces on the bags of relief goods that they are sending as of this writing? If they are, shame shame shame on YOU!

5. It’s Not the Time

The head of the Philippine delegation to a global warming conference in Warsaw announced that he would be going on a hunger strike until countries took action with regards to taking steps in the eradication of global warming.

Verdict: I was moved by his words and not just his tears, for Mr. Naderev Sano spoke truth and he spoke very, very well. Yet I do not at all agree with his move. Instead of sitting by and depriving himself of three meals a day, why does he not make the first move with regards to taking action? I’m sure he is a very capable and learned man in the field of environmental science (why else would he be the head of the Phil delegation to such a conference), and what he is doing is not going to solve anything… it will only weaken him and those that chose to join him in these efforts. I would love to tell him that yes, I admire his effort, but no, I believe that he should take a more concrete approach to his protest.

To conclude, I encourage everyone to take initiative in their respective communities. Go and help out! 🙂

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