Ketsana reportedly killed 250 people in Metro Manila and I have a feeling that the body count is going to go up. Tens of thousands of families were stuck in roofs for days with nothing to eat or drink. Floods reached as high as ten feet and it wasn’t just those who lived in the slum areas who were affected, but even those who lived in what was once called plush subdivisions. Rains still continue and there still are a few flooded areas.
About 80 percent of electricity is back and all may seem normal unless you go to an area where the flood is no more but you smell the stink as you walk through mud, garbage, dead dogs and cats and even bodies. It is a sad site, considering that those affected were generally middle class suburbian houses.
But then again, Ketsana, may have been destructive but she did prove that she was a mean equalizer. In a country where there is an almost horrendous gap between the rich and the poor, perhaps, there is a lesson to be learned here.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — contrary to other reports — surged through the flooded streets on the first dawn after the floods gobbled the houses and was visibly shocked at what she saw. Only hours after the flood, Mrs. Arroyo tried (along with her bodyguards and cabinet members) to try and find a way to get to the flooded areas. She rode an army truck at about 2 am Sunday to make damn sure that rescue operations go smoothly and orderly. Her Defense Secretary, Gilbert Teodoro, also wasn’t sleeping because he was with his president figuring out how to rescue thousands of people who were stranded on the roofs. One can hardly say that the Armed Forces of the Philippines didn’t TRY, because five of them lost their lives in the first two days of the rescue operations. They were heroes, of course, but it is always better to have live heroes than dead ones. What went wrong?
CNN reports that it was because water from a dam was released, a report that was denied by the local governments. What went wrong is simply that people were too used to typhoons and Ketsana wasn’t even a huge storm, so most never thought that it could bring so much rain. The local weather bureau had no idea either. It was a Saturday liek no other, when people went out to the malls (and got stranded there) or stayed at home with the hope of enjoying a peaceful weekend, not expecting a deluge.
Another thing that was wrong was that these so-called “grassroots leaders” called the barangays were useless. Go to any barangay chief and ask them what they’ve dome for their community and they’ll show you a basketball court. They should have gone for rubber boats instead. Mayors of the cities were too busy wanting to become the next president to even think that a disaster of this magnitude could occur. On the day the rain started so-called “presidential candidates” were bickering, politicking or “out on a campaign” outside of Metro Manila.If they weren’t, they were too busy attacking Gloria Arroyo who was riding in an army truck trying to pick up people stranded in the flooded streets. President Arroyo wasn’t to blame for anything either, because she didn’t cause the rains. Instead, for the FIRST time since Ferdinand Marcos, she opened the gates of the Presidential Palace to give out food and shelter to those who were hungry and wet and yet unsheltered. Perhaps, the only thing she should have done which she failed to do was to call up Israeli President Bibi Netanyahu for a change and ask for Israeli-made rubber boats.
Later.. very much later.. politicians have emerged again to “invite people” who were unaffected to donate goods, money, or “old clothes” so that they can distribute it to the people who were affected by this disaster. Perhaps, the biggest disaster is that there are politicians who care for NOTHING but their image.
The biggest problem is that the people do not see a working INTELLIGENT president when they see one — instead they only listen to what the media says. Sadly, the biggest media is owned by the “kingmakers” who obviously have their own “pet candidates”. Thus, the biggest disaster than Ketsana is the system. The kind of system which Gloria Arroyo doesn’t belong to because she’s too decent to be in that same league.