The Philippines is NOT Resilient

Since time immemorial, we are tested by countless calamities; volcanic eruptions, devastating earthquakes and lahar flows, super typhoons, flash floods and landslides. Victoriously, we surmounted these ordeals and pains, beyond imagination of the human race.

William G. Bacani, The Resiliency of a Filipino

An excerpt of the piece we’ve performed back in middle school and it had always been stucked in me ever since. I can recall it word for word. “Resiliency” is a word the people of the Philippines claimed. The reason behind the usage is because, as the piece might suggest, we were always some target of any calamity—in fact, third of the most disaster-prone country after Tonga and Vanuatu.

Photo by Rainier Ridao , Unsplash

Just today (12th of November 2020), Typhoon Ulysses hit the country destroying livestocks, houses and properties. Leaving all those who are severely pandemic-stricken and poverty-stricken in even more tribulation, much worse that it was not long ago that super typhoon Rolly harmed us.

I was greeted with countless pleas for rescue in Facebook while scrolling through my feed from Filipinos that saved themselves from drowning from an enormous flood by climbing up the rooftops. Water quickly rose even in areas that are not flood-prone, said the Mayor of Marikina—one of the most harmed city by Ulysses. Mayor Marcelino Teodoro (of Marikina) also admitted the lack of resources and the local government’s failure in attending all people in need of rescuing. I appreciate his courage to admit the mistake and accept liability, but I can’t help but feel somewhat frustrated as this irresponsibility in crucial time would mark people’s lives forever. This lapse can take away not just a life but a feasible hundreds of them.

Photo Credits: Dr. Marco P. Chavez

Aside from typhoons that we get atleast 10 times a year, we are also one of the most vulnerable of the effects of global warming, and volcanic eruptions (that Batangas City and its neighbors gone through on January of the same year). And given that we’re still a developing country, twentieth of the poorest, with relatively poor disaster planning and recovery procedures, and with prevalent poverty cases—it’s hard for our people to recover from such events. Furthermore, the social and economic cost of natural disasters is increasing due to population growth, migration, unplanned urbanization, global climate change and decrease of overall environmental state.

But with or without the aid of anyone but themselves, the people seem to get to their feet again.

Photo Credit: Sen. Bong Go

As G. Michael Hopf said, hard times create strong men. And that is exactly the case for our people. We were not born of some special gene whatsoever. I reckon we’ve been forced to go through horrible things and as part of human reaction, we try to survive. We then ornament with fancy words like “Resiliency.”

Nothing wrong with being resilient, of course. In fact, that is still the very trait I would choose to instill in me and my future offsprings. But I am disgusted as those in power overuse them to talk the Filipinos out of their reasonable wrath. Moreover, we romanticized it at some point. What’s wrong with that? We were basically normalizing suffering, when we can do better.

It’s not bad to suffer and then help ourselves out of the pit but it’s not bad either to demand more of good service which those in power vowed to its people. But not just that, I would encourage Filipinos to not just be a boulder showing off self-declared resiliency whilst not doing a thing to prevent its breaking down, dissolution, wearing away until it’s dust—until nothing to flaunt again. As we can do better than remain in a station we’ve been so resilient with that we refused to move, we better take a shot. Carve the rock slowly and slowly until we are something to be admired by the world, not just because we’ve been strong through hard times, but because we were strong enough to turn these adversities into progress.

Photo by Cherry Bueza

As G. Michael Hopf said, strong men create good times. I yearn to have strong Filipinos to create good times for the next generation.

We will bounce back, arms stronger with vision and faith, that after darkness, after pains and sufferings, the Filipino survives, the Filipino is resilient...

William G. Bacani, The Resiliency of a Filipino

… and progressive. Fingers-crossed.