Sunday, March 4, 2012

“Aftershocks” of Sendong

Huh? But Sendong was not an earthquake, you might tell me. Sendong was a storm that hit the Philippines late last year which caused a lot of flashfloods and mudslides in Mindanao, the hardest hit areas of which were Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City. Why then do I refer to “aftershocks”?

Aftershocks are natural (and equally unwelcome) occurrences after an earthquake. They occur, as I understand it, while the earth is still in the process of settling down after its movement.

Yes, Sendong, a storm, has “aftershocks”. Literally, the people (especially the children) were “shocked” “after” Sendong.

Our kasambahay, Violy (not her real name) had to go home after Valentines Day to be with her eight year old daughter. You see, Violy’s daughter was diagnosed as having depression. The condition was attributed to her experiences after Sendong. Violy wasn’t beside her daughter when Sendong happened. She wasn’t there when her daughter saw the decomposing bodies of those who drowned in the flashfloods. Our kasambahay was not there to assure her daughter that she would be safe. And it didn’t help that an earthquake of a high magnitude hit the Visayas region and was strongly felt in Cagayan de Oro where Violy’s daughter was.

Violy had to go home to care for her daughter even if it meant not having any regular source of income doing housework for us. She argued, no amount of money can take the place of a mother’s comforting presence. True, indeed. Upon her return, she reported, her daughter was happier and seemed to have gotten better. But Violy’s daughter still had to take her medicines and visit the child psychiatrist regularly. Poor Violy! She is now beside herself with worry over how to get the money for her and her other children’s needs, as well as the medical needs of her depressed daughter. This notwithstanding, she consoled herself by saying that at least she and her daughter are together.

Our kasambahay’s daughter is just one among many children who experienced the “aftershocks” of Sendong. Fortunately, Violy was able to go home and be with her child and we were able to help her out materially but what about the other children... the other children who have seen the wrath of Sendong without their parents? What about the children who lost their parents to Sendong? What about those who lost their siblings and barely survived themselves? Who cares for them now?

It is this blogger’s sincere hope that something concrete is being done about this beyond mere giving of relief goods. Relief goods are mere palliatives for they only remedy what is immediate and does not provide the answers for the long-term. What about the “aftershocks”? Is anything being done about them? I sure hope so.

At the barest minimum, is there, at present, an attempt to even assess or evaluate why the catastrophe in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City happened? Is there an effort to identify the causes thereto?

I am not a geologist nor am I a scientist but satellite pictures of the flooded areas clearly show that the floods carried with it mud. Mud, to me, means that there is erosion. The high volume of mud further indicates the seriousness of the situation. And, tracing the path of the mud, one could see that it came from the mountains...nothing is holding the soil together. Who then is the culprit?

In answering this question, I am reminded of a song “Where have all the flowers gone?” Unfortunately, for the Philippines, it is not just flowers that have been picked...I sing in my mind, albeit sadly, “where have all the trees gone?” “where have all the minerals gone?” “Loggers and miners picked them, everyone” “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn” (as the original song goes for the last two questions)...tsk tsk tsk...

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