Still standing

Obiter Dictum

I WAS in the bathroom when the first strong “linog” (earthquake) happened and I joked about it with a friend -- of running out of the house naked causing more havoc than the linog. But that joke was the last since that first tay-ug (tremor). What followed thereafter was fear, dread and jishin-yoi, the Japanese term meaning earthquake drunk or hangover characterized by dizziness or feeling trembles even when there’s none or not yet. Since October 29, Mindanao has been rocked, no, shaken by some 653 aftershocks, foreshocks, shockil-o-neil or simply, linog as of October 31.

Life has interrupted by the frequency of the linogs. Meetings were moved to lower floors, visits to doctors at the 7th and 8th floors were cancelled and so were weekly movies. Calls became more frequent as well as checking USGS and Phivolcs sites. When Ecoland 4000 collapsed in Davao City so did Eva’s hotel in Kidapawan and destroying 21,064 houses -- a good part of Mindanao was on its knees and needed assistance.

Suffice to say, if Manila or any area in Luzon was hit by the 6.6 linog and the numerous aftershocks, the two major stations would have had hosted a 24/7 telethon to raise funds and seek donations. None. Nevertheless, social media took over and pleas for water, food and temporary shelters and beddings flooded and drowned the latest juice about the Baretto family. Individuals with vehicles braved the broken roads and the risk of landslide bearing water containers, food, beddings, used tarpaulins and whatever else they can spare that soon the road leading to Digos and North Cotabato looked like EDSA on a weekend sale.

It made perfect sense that the current DSWD Secretary is a former military officer. His office’s coordination with the local units and other agencies was quick and yes, quiet. A silent but working DSWD is so much like its chief, the bemedaled former commander of the Philippine Army Rolando Bautista. Shunning long press conferences, Bautista set up DSWD command centers alongside rescue missions, damage assessment and inter-agency coordination.

While the number of affected persons ballooned to 200,000, an advertising person and a former celebrity went viral for their heartless comments by saying that the linog was “retribution” for Duterte die-hards, most of whom are in Mindanao. But DSWD ASec Luz Ilagan, a Dato Bago awardee and a Dabawenya routed them flat with a viral post that simply called them “UnFilipino” and recalled how Mindanao offered help for the victims of Mt. Pinatubo eruption, Typhoon Yolanda and added that natural catastrophes are “essentials of life puny mortals must accept”.

Puny -- when I read that I remembered Bruce Banner turning to Hulk and picking up conceited Loki by one hand and banging him lifeless on the floor and slowly walking and murmuring “puny god”. My mind changed “god” to “celebrities” when I saw my re-post of Ilagan’s statement reposted 404 times.

Without the ruckus, help from all over has been pouring in. Temporary shelters have been put up and truckloads of goods while those living in nearby areas are guiding survivors to sources of free-flowing spring water. There is ginormous work for everyone to do. There’s always the threat of the Big One and we can not parry linog’s blows but we will overcome.


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