BAGUIO

Pawid: Typhoons

Lighter Moments

FROGS are croaking in jubilation as rains continue to wet their habitat in the mountain forests, ponds, creeks, and river banks.

By nature, these small web-footed amphibians with moist skin and long legs know their “happy months” in the rainy season will soon be over. They await the last storm as a signal to seek safety in mossy and wet places for survival.

As the frog prepares for the in-coming dry season, the country suffers the wrath of strong typhoons common in the south-western hemisphere of the Pacific Rim.

After the series of typhoons, storms, or hurricanes, whichever one calls them, the ultimate one that hits the archipelago in November would be the nastiest and most horrible. It is called “puwek ni keleng” among the Ibaloi tribal communities of Benguet.

Was typhoon “Rolly” or “Ulysses” the puwek ni keleng among the Benguet tribes? Perhaps not as both climate disturbances were not as strong as expected to rage through in the mountain lairs of these shy tribes. This means the indigenous tribesmen and women of the Cordilleras cannot put down their guards to protect themselves from any potential climate and weather threats.

Truly so, the native method on how to predict the number of typhoons may confirm their apprehensions (a subject matter in later columns).

“Rolly” hit the Bicol and Tagalog regions, including Metro-Manila, that tolled heavy loss in lives and property. Soon thereafter in a matter of days, “Ulysses”, the fourth in 17 days, drove right behind with accompanying heavy rains in the north. Cagayan and Isabela provinces were flooded up to more than 13 meters high in some areas, a catastrophic disaster never before experienced in the last 100 years.

Several landslides too were reported in the provinces of Nueva Viscaya, Quirino, Ifugao, and Benguet burying some residents; and blocking main roads that hamper the immediate movement of help.

Nonetheless, it is heartwarming to see in internet channels rescue operations in attempts to save lives. Thousands are, yet, hunger and sickness among those who lost their homes and livelihood are not far fetch as government and private efforts to extend help are simply “band-aid” immediate solutions.

The worse is yet to come after the storm. And the government must respond with resources that must be made available as soon as possible.

While the challenges of survival in stages and recovery are on; and mourning are not yet done, the national weather bureau Pagasa mentions three more typhoons in the next weeks to hit the country.

None other than prayers and hope for Godly intervention seem to be the great consolation.

As yet everyone must accept the reality of such a phenomenon. That the mossy forests of decades ago got thinner or gone due to deforestation activities attributed to government nincompoop policies on environment protection and illegal logging.

Or is it a dyslexic sickness of those in government who fail to recognize the aftermath of abusing the Lords’ given graces of natural resources? It is not a sickness caused by “low intelligence or brain damage” but one of corruption, I believe.

The lowly frog has seen and experienced this abuse of mankind of his own surroundings. Man of this generation is now exposed to it and suffers the consequences.

For decades logging trucks daily line the Maharlika highway (from Cagayan-Isabela-Nueva Viscaya) to sawmills in the suburbs of Metro-Manila. The same scenario was true along the route from the Quezon and Aurora provinces. Those logging operations could be blamed partly for the disasters.

Decades ago, studies conducted by the Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA) in the Cagayan Valley pointed out several anomalies in the ecosystem which were disturbed by human greed. These were reaffirmed by local scientists in the environmental field whose studies were recently acknowledged by the local governments of Alcala, Amulung, and other neighboring towns of Cagayan. These towns are still underwater as of this writing.

A similar study was also conducted in the past decade to address and lessen the flooding of some areas in Metro-Manila. It involved the dredging of the Laguna Lake, and clearing and deepening the seven-kilometer Napinpin Channel in Taytay to divert run-off waters into the lake.

It was a project approved by then-President Gloria Arroyo to be undertaken by a world-renowned Belgian dredging firm but was canceled by Aquino a few months after he assumed office. The cancellation caused the government some P1.2 billion in penalties and lawyers’ fees; and most of all Metro-Manila suffering losses in yearly floods.

In these instances, typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses” can hopefully be eye-openers on the magnitude of disasters and the significance of environmental protection. If and when positive steps are taken in the right direction, the lives and property of succeeding generations may be saved.

How heavy would be the load in sin in the country that Juan de la Cruz must undergo the pain and agony of what Sodom and Gomorrah had experienced?

The water in the river never stops flowing to the sea. And life will move on.


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