Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Attack Of The Habagat: Diary Of An Absent Employee

For the first time in my employment history I was absent and I felt helpless if not down right disappointed because even if I wanted to there’s just no way that I can go to work given the severe flooding that engulfed the metro.

Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely thankful that me, my family and loved ones and those that I know are safe, dry and fueled.

Being exposed though to a calamity this colossal made me realize that:

(1) In as much as this country is beaming with the most noble and kind-hearted volunteers with the purest intention to help and save lives, there are also many of our kababayans who would use the crisis situation to their extreme advantage.

Among them are politicians giving out relief goods with their face stamped on every canned goods and plastic bags and tricycle and jeepney drivers jacking up their price by as much as 1000% and some even go to the extent of having passengers bid. Highest bid gets to go home.

(2) We only think about the garbage situation in the country only during and days after the flood but we don’t do anything about it. Sure some LGUs have started to implement the use of paper bags and proper waste segregation but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Waste management is more than a change in process; we need a change in behavior.

(3) Tuned in to the news almost 24/7 makes you just ask the question: ‘why do we have stubborn kababayans who would refuse preventive evacuation only to ‘beg’ for it when the situation has become a matter of life and death?’

(4) Given the recent weather trends a two or three story house no longer gives you and your family immunity or peace of mind for that matter. Everyone is now vulnerable.

(5) We are generally a reactive race. Setting aside weather forecasts, which forewarns possible calamities and acts only when it has happened. Case in point: the long, crazy queue in supermarkets and groceries while rains are pounding non-stop.

(6) For the middle and working class an internet connection (or a twitter account for that matter) is more important than having an electric or water supply. No internet connection means disconnection from the  outside reality.

(7) Stupidity knows no calamity. As with the case of RH Bill detractors who used the incident to ‘strengthen’ their case and conclude (without reason or logic) that God sent the rains as  punishment for the country for even ever pushing for the RH Bill to be enacted.

(8) News on TV does not help promote critical analysis and dwells on the mushy stuff which, more often than not promotes nothing but fleeting effect. TV stations are obsessed with how much donations they have raked in and not a single one asking- ‘when will we get to that situation when donations are no longer necessary because we have made significant improvements such that we no longer go into this situation year after year?’

(9) Flooding is more than a garbage problem. It is a problem that has been discussed and resolved by almost every urban cities around the world our neighbors included (Singapore and Malaysia). It is a problem that involves careful analysis of our topography, sewerage system, urban planning, zoning, water ways and sources among others. We do not lack brilliant minds, we lack direction.

Being stranded for 12 hours and seeing the water perpetually rise having no clue how I could go home safe is a traumatic experience but nothing compared to what thousands of Filipino families went through during Ondoy and the recent ‘attack of the Habagat’.

What is both sad and scary is that- there seems to be no ray of light as of the moment.

Not until the government understands that it takes more than relief operations to fix the issue.

Not until we demand more from our government officials.

Not until we demand more from ourselves.

The future remains cloudy for Manila.


  1. This is the correct way of saying we failed and this time, we failed miserably.

    Kudos to your great article. I subscribe to what you said here in your piece.

  2. Great article.

    I hope this would enlighten Filipinos.

    The change we want to see shall begin with ourselves.

  3. every point you said is so right. urban planning must be top priority. not band-aid solutions, for crying out loud.