I reckon I am exactly at stage two among the stages of grief. First was denial- “the numbers are exaggerated, we’re a tough bunch and we will pick up the pieces and rebuild.” I was just there. The second stage: anger.
I am counting the dollars as they stream in. We thank them for the outpouring of support and smile. Everyone’s favorite. The nicest people on the planet.
We won’t lament our sorry lot. There’s no wrath. Just grief and suffering, and the acceptance that this is our fate: to be poor in a 3rd world country; circled by the ring of fire; and choked by the typhoon belt.
But winds don’t roar and rush at 300 kilometers per hour. Seas don’t swallow entire cities. The beach doesn’t swell to a watery grave. God doesn’t make them like that. You coax and cajole, ask her to give absolutely, and then raise her temperature so she’s almost seething. Of course Nature is enraged.
And while I welcome the trifle, I am angry. Like a woman scorned and pacified with a necklace. And I think it fit to remind them about their fascinating theories of the Butterfly effect, dominoes and ripples across the water. Because the most powerful storm in human history? That same one that left a gaping hole right where I live? I can trace it back to them. And so they can send storm chasers and news networks, choppers or the military, even pour in millions in humanitarian aid. But this time, a peace offering won’t be enough. It is climate change, stupid. And that tragedy you behold, the breaking news that shows you the walking dead, the scavengers, and a man carrying his dead child, that’s the reality I can trace back to the pebble someone threw.
It happens like clockwork. Again, I am pouring cups of rice to plastic bags, rummaging for blankets, and my status calls out #ReliefPH. This grief and suffering and the acceptance that this is our fate: to be poor in a 3rd world country; compelled to live in makeshift structures; on the water’s edge; and in harm’s way.
Our storms have their own names. People shouldn’t be sheltering inside houses that splinter with the wind under roofs that fly. People shouldn’t make do with huts on stilts where the seas could devour them. When the sirens have sounded, people shouldn’t prefer the typhoon’s path for fear of looting. When the storm has passed, people shouldn’t be begging for attention, food and water, as government has not reached them. And when our towns are ravaged, private citizens shouldn’t be at the front-line, scrambling for supplies, assembling missing persons lists, finding boats or organizing their own rescue because government has gone pfft.
You watch television and it’s a reality show depicting doomsday, war, and survival mingled with drama. It is surreal because 800 kilometers away, you are sipping Arabica with Christmas carols in the background. You don’t know whether you are desensitized to poverty and death, or if you’re slowly adapting to an abnormal that’s now a way of life.
Our people are so poor. Our country is so vulnerable. We are a sorry state. Come on, it’s not fun where we live! We may be tough and resilient, but we have bent over backwards too many times. We’ve recoiled and sprung back to shape. Except now we’re stretched to breaking. It’s time to snap back. Be beside oneself. Ticked off. Enraged. And show them that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.