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PIA Press Release
2009/10/01

Commentary: Ondoy insights

By Bong Pedalino

Maasin City (1 October) -- Tropical storm Ondoy will surely go down in our history as one with a wide swath of water-powered devastation nature unleashed anew.

A few days after the traumatic experience, however, it became evident that clogged waterways -- the result of man's disregard to proper waste disposal -- was a great factor in the deluge.

Indeed, our folly will always come back to us -- and with a vengeance.

***

As always happening in any major calamity, the people's best and worst moments showed up.

Unintentional heroes were there for the rescue, and we are touched by stories of extreme sacrifices of good Samaritans, especially those who lost their very lives while saving others, mostly strangers.

On the other hand, we are disheartened by reports that in some areas distribution of relief goods were delayed just because no cameraman or media was around to cover the event.

***

But the bayanihan spirit in the Filipino always shines in trying times such as these -- even without the presence of TV cameras.

And some folks in the vicinity of Malacanang may have uttered a silent thank for Ondoy, for this was an occasion they were able to enter the country's chief executive seat, courtesy of the chief executive herself, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who readily opened the Palace doors as evacuation center for victims, and relief center for hundreds of young volunteers, sharing their time and effort so packaging and distribution of goods can be systematic and in order.

Mother Nature may have her way, but the President's Motherly concern holds sway.

***

Another unintended “benefit” with Ondyo's presence was the sudden break in saturated, subtle political campaigning that has been the daily news menu in pre-Ondoy days.

Of course, Filipino politicians being shrewd and resourceful as they are will always capitalize on anything even at the expense of the people's misery.

But in these critical hours, wherein people needed the most basic necessities to preserve dear life, or for plain survival, it is easy to see whether or not Mr./Ms. Candidate-to-be was motivated by a serious desire to help, or was simply stockpiling pogi points for the surveys.

Onday has become a political catalyst in this sense.

***

LOCAL FRONT: As soon as it became apparent that people in Ondoy's path needed help, the Southern Leyte chapter of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) rolled up its sleeves and buckled down to work, initiating a relief drive for the victims. The city and provincial governments also mobilized everything to support the local Red Cross initiative. Other local government units in the province as well as the private sector are also pitching in. A few years back we are at the receiving end of donations, now it is our turn to reciprocate. Coordinate with your local government or the Red Cross if you have something to give -- toiletries, milk, noodles, instant food, groceries, etc.

ODDLY YOURS: Perhaps the longest flood of all time was the one told by the Bible. In Noah's time, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and water covered the Earth for six months. But Noah and his family were safe, for they rode in a boat that can accommodate themselves and 50,000 other animals. The boat, or ark, was one for the record: it was as long as a one-and-a-half football field (450 feet), and almost as wide as a football field (75 feet). It was taller than a four-story house (45 feet), and had three decks or levels. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]

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