Deja vu. This relentless rain is. It’s 2012 and again we’re packing “relief” bags, calling for jet skis and rubber boats. I feel like I’m watching a rerun. We just never come in out of the rain.
Disaster, death and destruction should make for lessons and yet we’re stuck in a cycle of death counts or flashing the numbers to call for rescue. And once again, we will be recording deaths to a hundred, displaced to thousands, and rescue and rebuilding efforts to millions.
Why? Because when it’s sunny again, we will go back to throwing trash into every creek and canal; and some of our very busy politicians would have forgotten to unclog the waterways, preferring to construct roads and waiting sheds. Because really, what does it matter the filth we throw out of sight; who will see good work down in the sewer? Or what about the forgotten plans for mangrove reforestation or regulation of fish pens? They make wonderful sound bites, especially in a campaign, but really, who remembers? And what were all those geo-hazard maps for? Pay big money for someone to map out disaster prone areas, and once it’s there, ignore them. I bet if someone put up a sign: “DANGER: You can be buried here the next time it rains,” no one would take heed. Just look at the number of people fishing in front of “No Fishing” or peeing right at “Bawal Umihi Dito.” We don’t pay heed to signs.
But what other sign do we need? We have memorialized Ondoy, Peping, Sendong and yet don’t remember the lesson. Aside from the aftermath rubber boats and cup noodles, why can’t we give as much Bayanihan for finding ways to control the flood? We’re getting quite creative at makeshift boats and “tulak boys” so why can’t we be creative at preventing so much water in the first place? And why can’t we see all that garbage being spewed back at us? Because we’ve had at least 4 signs of where the floodwaters rise, can’t we surmise it’s unsafe to live there? Or maybe, build water catchment systems or ways for the waters to flow? I understand how desperate times call for desperate measures, but really, we cannot build houses along riverbanks or especially where the land slides when it’s wet. Our politicians are ambivalent about preventing informal settlements along waterways or loose rocks and soil, but I promise, while it won’t pay in votes, you’d be saving lives and would be loved generations hence (well when it’s no longer your term.) True public service will have you doing things that won’t make you popular, but only righteous, honorable too.
It’s August 8, 2012, day 5 of the monsoon that just won’t let up. The rains have come and our urban jungle still does not have trees to drink the water and our waterways are perpetually clogged. It never rains anymore, it only pours. And once again, we’re drowning in our own filth, our negligence, our making merry when the sun shines, and our easygoing attitude that makes everything just more fun in the Philippines.
Deja vu. This rain is.