Another rainy season has exposed the ill-preparedness of my home city, Metro Manila, to heavy rains. An unprecedented period of nearly non-stop rains has rendered the low-lying areas into “waterworlds” where floods exceed the height of the average Filipino, and sent residents scampering to either their roofs or to crowded schools converted into makeshift relief shelters.
Like when Typhoon Ondoy (international code name: Ketsana) hit nearly three years ago, fortunate Metro Manila citizens took to the internet and social networking services to organize rescue efforts, relief efforts and rounding up volunteers to ensure that the victims’ needs are immediately met. Celebrities and common people exchanged tweets about the plights of different victims around the city and called out the authorities to reach those in need of dire help.
But seriously, this needs to stop. Our government needs to take a long hard look at our city’s ability to handle both seasonal and non-seasonal weather jinks that can lead to disasters like this. I understand that higher priority problems like education, poverty, economy and unemployment are the focus of the government but shouldn’t they tackle the basics too like urban planning and improving the city’s capacity to handle the biggest recurring threat to public safety?
And seriously, shouldn’t be our President be extending compassion and concern instead of blaming the public over ignoring warnings? That can be said later to emphasize the importance, but where is our leaders’ humanity and being one with the people they serve? Isn’t the point of being a leader is to be there with the victims, not berating them for not listening to a complex warning system that was explained mostly via social media that the masses don’t have access to?
Our leaders should be the shining examples that the people take after. If this is the kind of example our masses, who, let’s face it, are unfortunate enough to be either partially uneducated or completely illiterate, are exposed to, then they will simply not care to follow. The masses will be disciplined and inspired to do better for themselves when they find someone who can lead them genuinely and cares for them truly.
Lastly, we, the public, should also be responsible and disciplined. Throw the trash in proper places. Make an effort to segregate waste and properly dispose them. Decline plastic bags for minimal purchases. Use reusable bags and containers, and if unavoidable, keep the garbage with you until you find a proper waste bin.
Disasters like these can never be avoided, but if we all do what we can on our end, we can mitigate the impacts of such unexpected events. We should really start doing things right and properly if we want to avoid repeating disasters like these.