Y-Speak: ‘Resiliency’ during disasters

(Contributed photo)

STANDFIRST: Faced with a number of calamities, the Filipinos had grown stronger, smiling in the face of adversity. But is resiliency always a good thing or has it become an excuse for those in power to delay improvement of the country’s risk reduction efforts?


Filipinos have been romanticizing resiliency for the past decades. However, resiliency is not always a strength. Often, the less resilient find better ways to live so they suffer loss.

Ever since, the Philippines has been tested by countless natural calamities such as volcanic eruptions, devastating earthquakes, lahar flows, super typhoons, flash floods, and landslides.

The country faced two catastrophes during the last quarter of 2013.

In October, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake jolted Bohol and Cebu City. It was reported that 796 people got injured and damaged at least P4-billion worth of properties in both cities.

Just three weeks after the earthquake, Super Typhoon Yolanda, one of the strongest storms ever recorded with wind speeds of more than 300 kilometers per hour, lashed eastern portions of the Philippines and left 6,241 people dead and US$4.55 billion worth of damage.

In the aftermath, communication and power were inaccessible across the affected areas. Over five million people lost their homes and had no food nor clean water to drink.

The Aquino Administration was slammed even by the international media like CNN because the calamities highlighted the government’s weak response efforts after relief aid failed to immediately reach affected areas.

However, Filipino communities showed resiliency after the catastrophes. The Filipino spirit remained strong. Even the people who got affected still managed to send support to nearby places.

Foreign journalists have been reporting about stories of strength, hope, resiliency, faith, and smiles despite desperation and devastation. It becomes the collective identity of the Filipinos.

This year, on August 11, heavy rain poured in Metro Manila and nearby provinces and resulted to widespread flooding brought by the southwest monsoon and Tropical Storm Karding (Yagi). Several areas were submerged in water, with riverside and coastal areas suffering the most. During the intense rains, at least three people died.

In a viral photo circulating in social media, a man submerged in floodwater in Marikina City and managed to smile despite his difficult situation.

Over the years, Filipinos showed their resiliency. They appeared to be immune to disasters. However, has resiliency been used as an excuse for the government’s shortcomings?

According to former solicitor Florin Hilbay, Filipino spirit is amazing but underscored the importance of demanding a real solution to the government.

“I also wonder whether it’s the same spirit that keeps us from seeking accountability for their repeated failures,” he tweeted.

The “resiliency concept” can be the Filipinos’ coping mechanism against flooding and other calamities. Politicians often rely on this concept. If they continue this kind of mindset, the Philippines will always be a third world country for a while.

Filipinos have been romanticizing resiliency for the past decades. However, resiliency is not always a strength. Often, the less resilient find better ways to live so they suffer loss.

According to Cynthia Rodriguez, a Tourism consultant in Davao Oriental, as result of this seemingly hopeless situation in the Philippines, the young and bright people are leaving the country.

“The young generation is more pragmatic in their outlook, they can be resilient outside of the country doing lowly jobs for they see more justice and equity in other places than their own,” she said.

In an article written by Shakira Sison, on the other hand, she said the problem with resilience is the speed by which we transform trauma into acceptance.

“Instead of solving problems, we simply cope or wait for the problem to pass,” she said.

Resilience alone should never be coined as the problem. The real problems are complacency, laziness, and selfishness. People know the country’s problems. They are fed up, but no one wants to do anything. Filipinos should take part and start the change even in their own little ways.

In the blog of Jess Brooks, he asked, “Why rise from the ashes without asking why you had to burn?” It’s like giving government inadequacy and inefficacy an excuse because anyway, Filipinos are resilient.

Sadly, it’s the same trait that leaves us in perpetual agony because subconsciously, we, as people refuse to face off with the hard facts. We have too much patience and tolerance for mediocrity thus people don’t strive for the best work. (Allan Acera Jr.)


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