This evening, I dropped by the Ateneo College Covered Courts to check out Ateneo's Task Force Ondoy. Kudos to all the volunteers who have been helping out in the relief operations. The bayanihan spirit is very heartwarming and I hope our country benefits and learns from this experience of cooperation in tragedy.
As I mentioned while I was abroad, reading all the status messages in Facebook was really depressing! When we get up on our feet again, Filipinos must make the country's leaders accountable for everything. The rains may be an act of God, but flood control and disaster response is an act of man.
Stop cutting trees! That includes illegal logging and the DPWH/MMDA cutting trees for road-widening! Let's all plant trees once the relief operations are over. While PAGASA claims trees would not have stopped the flooding (true maybe, but who says they're credible), wouldn't you agree with me that a forest-covered Sierra Madre would have minimized the water flowing down from the denuded mountains?
Part of flood control includes the removal of illegal settlers from esteros and rivers as well. I'm sorry but they really have to go. The danger to the larger population has already been articulated by this recent tragedy. So I hope groups who would oppose their removal on the grounds of human rights consider now the rights of all those affected by the recent flood. Metro Manila is one big river basin which we do not notice anymore since even the waterways have been erased by development. It's time to clear up the natural flood drainage system of Metro Manila!
I hope people also start becoming aware of proper waste disposal. Even small candy wrappers thrown indiscriminately contribute to our flood problems. A friend of mine commented that even the relief operations will be generating so much plastic that it will again clog up our natural drainage system. But then again, let's start this debate/campaign once we've made sure everybody's safe and up on their feet again. Carry on!
I just arrived from Singapore and Malaysia today and have so many stories to tell. But in deference to the tragedy that struck our country and the relief operations that are underway, I'll continue the travel posts next week.
Update (09/29/09): Upsilon Sigma Phi and Philippine National Red Cross Rescue & Relief Mission meets at 8 a.m. at the A.S. Parking Lot. Relief goods, volunteers, and vehicles are very much welcome. UP Sagip Isko operations at the UP Church of the Risen Lord from 7 a.m. onwards
Update (10/03/09): I invite you to read Lessons from the deluge by Paulo Alcazaren which talks about the response of Singapore to flooding. I was in Singapore when the flood happened and I learned that it used to flood in Singapore too. But the difference is they learned from the floods and rationalized their drainage and flood control system to make sure that the problem was addressed. Take note that at the time they did that, the Philippines was economically ahead of Singapore!