Friday, November 15, 2013

Mabuhay tayong mga Pilipino

Every one of us is in search of a handle, something to hold on to, something that can help us comprehend what just happened. Every one of us, victims, acquaintances, friends and relatives of survivors, witnesses, we are all finding it difficult to make sense of what just happened. Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest storm in recent world history, stronger than this storm-ravaged country has ever encountered, left thousands dead, hundreds of thousands injured and homeless, countless communities in total ruins.

Yolanda has vanished, and we can’t direct our anger at something that has ceased to exist. So who do we blame for the misery, the despair, hopelessness, for all this? Armed with an idea of a fraction of the whole scenario, we start point fingers. A reporter, from where he was standing at a particular moment, saw that survivors were left to fend for themselves with no relief operations in sight, corpses lining the streets, survivors desperately trying to survive searching for a morsel to eat or a sip of water. And there we all were like a mob kicking, punching, cursing at all government officials. How can they be so heartless? Where were they? We have no idea and our already conditioned minds fill the gaps for us and conjure images of top government officials comfortable and dry in their warm beds. Or of soldiers sleeping on the job, uncaring. And how, indeed, can someone sleep at night or be so uncaring at a time like this?

But what the reporter didn’t tell us was that he has no idea what was going on beyond his limited field of view. That maybe just a block or two away from where he was standing were a group of weary, hungry, perhaps even injured government employees putting together and distributing food packs to whoever was within their reach at the moment. Or somewhere beyond the nearest rubble could be soldiers immersed in floodwaters carrying women, children and the elderly on their backs to get them to a safer place. They didn’t see that, and they didn’t tell us about that, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

And since this tragedy is so difficult to comprehend, to accept, we will find it hard to accept any answer to all our questions. If we were told that the government officials were there after all, much overwhelmed, yes, but there doing everything they can, we ask another question. How can they have not prepared for something like this?

But who can ever be prepared for something that nobody has ever experienced before? How can anyone prepare when nobody knew what was coming?

The country needs to rise from this tragedy, and it is hard for a weary, injured, heartbroken nation to do so when it continues to receive a beating just days after being at the receiving end of one of the strongest storms in world history. It’s like watching a parent hitting, pinching and screaming at a crying child for hurting himself while playing, being a child. The child certainly didn’t want to get hurt, and most probably the child had no idea that there was protruding rock in his path while he was running, he just didn’t see it coming. The child already suffered a nasty wound, it doesn't make sense to break his heart too.

Let’s stop seeing the government as something detached from ourselves, for we are the government. Like you, Mar too feels for every one of the victims. Like you, Dinky too has not been sleeping well at night, if at all, and would like be able to feed every single one of the victims. Like you, Noynoy too has cried several times in the last few days. Like you, the soldier too would like to be able to get every single one of the survivors out of harm’s way. The policeman from Tacloban would surely start helping everyone around him as soon as he buries his wife, or his child. The barangay captain too after he finds every single member of his missing family.

We are all wounded, some way more so than others, but wounded nonetheless. We all need a hug, a hand to hold, to be reassured that everything will be better tomorrow. And nobody else, not CNN, not the U.N., not Obama nor Her Royal Highness can make us feel better the way we ourselves can.

They need you, you need them, I need you, and you need me. Let’s not turn our backs on each other now. We need each other, let’s hold hands. Don't let go now.

Mabuhay tayong mga Pilipino.

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