The Typhoon Drama

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   A super typhoon called Yolanda (international name Haiyan) visited the country last November 8, 2013. This typhoon brought so much devastation in Tacloban City and other Visayan Provinces. This typhoon causes anarchy in the affected areas. It instills fear and sorrow to the minds of the Filipinos who have survived its horror. It also tests our government on how fast they deliver relief to the survivors. 

   Typhoon Yolanda is labeled as the “most powerful typhoon of 2013”. It was category 5 storm – the strongest tropical cyclone (typhoon) on record to make landfall. According to Philippine weather officials, Yolanda had sustained winds of 235 kph, with gusts of 275 kph. Because of its strong winds it created storm surges – a tsunami like wave – that wreaked havoc to the provinces of Samar and Leyte. Many people died in the typhoon. It reached up to 2,000 plus (and still rising). The people who survived the nightmare lose their minds from hunger or from losing their families. They become violent and more aggressive in order to survive. Looting is rampant in the affected areas. They ransack business establishments like malls just to find food and water. The situation is desperate and people are begging for help. Some are finding ways to get out in the damaged areas while some still remain and try to survive.

   Up to 22 countries have provided assistance to the country including financial aid, relief supplies (food & non-food) and personnel, including medical workers, search and rescue crews and humanitarian experts assisting in needs assessment. Furthermore, many cities and provinces in the country also extend their help to the victims of typhoon Yolanda. In this giving of relief, it would be great if there is a monitoring of donation and financial assistance for transparency and accountability. Because the Filipinos are allergic in the word corruption. 

   The 24/7 coverage of different media outlets causes confusion to the viewers on what’s really happening in the affected areas. According to the government, the situation is “under control”. But the images that we see on TV and the internet are not consistent on what the Philippine government is declaring. 

    I cannot believe that Pres. Noynoy Aquino called for the media to accurately report the Yolanda disaster. I think for him the reality is hard to accept. The CNN coverage in Tacloban City (and neighboring areas) serves as a wake call to the Philippine government to really act in this desperate situation. 

   Christiane Amanpour, the CNN News Anchor, asked Pres. Aquino about the situation of the victims and how the government response to it, she asked:

“Mr. President you talked about a moral responsibility from the world. Let me ask you about your responsibility as President. Clearly, I don’t know whether you agree, but the way you respond to this terrible devastation will probably define your presidency. Many have talked about how much effort has gone in, how much reform you have done, how much work you’ve done against corruption. But many people might end up judging you on how your government has responded. What do you say to that?” - see the video 

   If you have seen the interview, you may notice that our president didn’t answer it directly. He somewhat “blame” the Local Government Unit (LGU) in Tacloban about its slow delivery of relief in the affected areas. 

   Anderson Cooper also reported what he has witnessed in Tacloban City. As he said, “There is no real evidence of organized recovery of relief.” He did not include the name of the Philippine Government to avoid commotion. But it seems Korina Sanchez didn’t like the way Cooper reported the situation in Tacloban City. 

   The CNN report implies that our government is focusing not in relief operation but in image crafting of themselves. It shows how conscious they are in their image. I don’t blame them because the whole world is watching. Obviously, the Philippine media is covering it up to lessen its negativity. 

   Looking back at the history of disasters in the Philippines, it is sad to say that the way our government responds in this kind of situation still remains lame. It has disaster response program but it is an inadequate, and it needs review or improvement. Well, I don’t want to put myself in this blame-game kind of thing, but it’s really frustrating to imagine it. 

   Because of this typhoon various conspiracy theories rose overnight. Climate manipulation is a trending idea when this typhoon struck. I do not declare it as true but you cannot deny its possibilities. The Climate Change issue brought back to the spotlight. The video of Yeb Sano during the UN Climate Conference in Warsaw, Poland became viral because of this event. Some are touch while some labeled him as an emo boy who uses emotional blackmail just to get the attention of the developed countries. 

   If I have the means to go to Tacloban City (as well as other affected areas) I would definitely go. The images that we see on TV are so exaggerated or should I say dramatized to appeal to the viewer’s emotions. It’s a different scenario if you are in their situation. You would witness the actual condition minus the TV drama. No image crafting, no cover ups, no O.A. moments and no pa-pogi points for the politicos.

   With the disasters and other calamities that visited in our country, I appreciate more my course in the Graduate School program. As a student of Sustainable Development, it is best time to apply and shared what we have learned from studying Sustainable Development. In this crisis situation, we really need a genuine action and not a teleserye-type of action - enough with the over the top donation-drama thing, enough with blame-game, enough with the politics of giving relief. We need a real and concrete polices and not short term and outdated laws about disaster preparedness and climate change. As what Christiana Figueres, the Executive Director of the UNFCC, said during the UN Climate Conference in Warsaw: “There are no winners and losers. We all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves.” 

   So please cut the crap.

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