Editorial: Claiming our story

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

THE year we have just closed, with a sigh of relief for most, will be remembered for its heart-rending stories.

The events of the last three months, in particular, will stand out because many of us in the Visayas have never lived through such events before.

Short memories make us tend to remember what was most recent. So, it is easy to forget the stories of personal and collective achievement that marked the first half of 2013—among them, a generally peaceful election and growth figures that saw the country’s rise as Asia’s surprising economic star.

And then along came the powerful earthquake that jolted us awake on Oct. 15, followed less than a month later by the unprecedented force of typhoon Yolanda.

The challenges these twin calamities have created will set the tone for much of this New Year, and rightly so.

Analysts have assured us the toll on economic growth will be bearable. But that will provide scant comfort, unless the four million persons Yolanda has driven out of their homes find shelter again, and thousands of local businesses somehow gain the resources to start over.

We can, however, draw comfort from the spirit that most of our suffering brethren have shown; the generosity that poured from countless homes and businesses, the dignity and sense of humor that survivors held on to, when little else was left.

Counselors and disaster resilience advocates speak of the need to “transform a crisis narrative into a survival story.” Of course, we will need more pragmatic skills than that, like the use of hazard maps and the will to enforce resettlements and early evacuations. We will need to be watchful, too, as billions are invested on rebuilding entire communities.

But in order to recover, we must first believe we can. Tragedy may be what stands out when we look back at 2013. This year, let us claim recovery and resilience as our collective story, and do all that we each can to make them happen.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 01, 2014.


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