SANDED children on the beach building castles while enjoying the sea breeze were a favorite subject of camera bugs prior to the pandemic. These children rebuilt the castles each time these were washed away by waves. They simply moved father from the shoreline as high tides knocked down their sand masterpieces and built even bigger and higher sand castles.
Looking at the devastation — thousands of houses destroyed across the Bicol region in the aftermath of super typhoon Rolly, followed by two more — how I wished it was as simple as rebuilding sand castles. The affected residents flabbergasted by the destruction may have the resilience of the children, but we cannot discount the fact that their spirits were broken, their hearts crashed in despair, especially when their main sources of income were destroyed as well. Abaca and coconut are the main produce of Bicol.
Victims picked up the pieces, sorted through the rubble and saved scraps to be utilized in rebuilding their houses. How could we try to alleviate their situation and lighten up their spirits, when they had hardly even started rebuilding, yet were again being challenged by two more storms?
According to Unicef, there are 700,000 children affected by the recent typhoons that hit the Philippines. GMA was the first to respond and to give assistance to the typhoon victims in Catanduanes. Celebrity Willie Revillame likewise came to distribute relief goods. It’s sad to note that government aid came just after a couple of days. Food and water are essentials that could have been accorded the Catanduanes residents “asap.”
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources have mapped danger zones. With climate change, relocation sites should be a priority by this administration. Children should not face the ordeal of evacuation each time a typhoon hits.
We were able to build a costly athlete’s dormitory that was utilized only for weeks during the SEA Games. So lack of funding cannot be an excuse. We cannot also give the health crisis as an excuse when the “pabahay” for the super typhoon Yolanda victims has not been fully completed. Yolanda happened in November 2013. Covid-19 came seven years later.
There’s this old Tagalog saying: “Kung gugustuhin hahanapan ng paraan. Kung ayaw maraming dahilan.” It best describes the country’s pathetic situation. Money spent for grandeur could have been saved for emergencies like the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines that will cost us P4 billion. Now, we have to borrow.