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JR Lopez Gonzales 11:23 PM 0

Last November 8, the world witnessed this catastrophe of biblical proportions. 

It has been the headlines of both local and foreign media: Typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Typhoon Haiyan) battered the central part of the Philippines taking with it the homes and lives of thousands of people.

Typhoon Yolanda, with the width of about 500 miles, is one, if not the strongest storm, to hit this vulnerable part of the planet. It was estimated to be three times larger than Hurricane Katrina which hit the US in 2005.
 
With gust reaching 195 miles per hour when it reached the shore, the typhoon took the lives of more than 6,000 people and left thousands more missing. It carried tsunami-like waves which reach as high as a three-story building, ravaging Eastern Visayas. Aside from its catastrophic winds, it also brought storm surges where the waves rise and battered the nearby shores.

And months after the typhoon struck, we are reminded of the full extent of the deluge’s damage. Images in the TV sets are horrifying: dead bodies lie in the streets as survivors try to search for their relatives. It was also a “triple whammy” for the businessmen of Leyte province, too. Their relatives possibly dead or missing, their stores damaged - and their goods looted by the victims who are huge fans of Greek-style anarchy.

So, who's to blame for this unimaginable destruction? And in the middle of all this, everyone (Anderson Cooper, included) asks: Why was the government response, slow?

Well, the government responded by saying that the country has never experienced a super typhoon of this magnitude.

True. The devastation of Typhoon Haiyan is indeed, unprecented, despite the fact that this tropical country takes in magnanimous number of typhoons each year. 
According to current estimates, Typhoon Haiyan has affected 11 million Filipinos and has displaced more than 600,000 people in the Visayas group of islands.
One of these recent intense storms include Typhoon Washi (locally known as Typhoon Sendong), which I personally experienced in Iligan City in December 2011.

I could still vividly recall our ordeal two years ago when this typhoon hit the sister cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. That fateful day I found myself, like thousands of displaced Iliganons - in shock, and living for a moment, on the generosity and concern of others.

I believe it is now safe to say that climate is changing (so I'm pulling off a “Korina Sanchez” here: How dare you, climate change?!).
The blog author salvages his valuables in 2011 during the devastation brought about by Typhoon Washi.
Sure. Climate is the main culprit for the devastation but I believe the government shouldn’t use the old “blame-it-to-nature" routine.

That's why it puzzles me that each time a strong typhoon batters our shores, it seemed like the country's been hit for the first time due its unpreparedness. Every time. It is as if it this experience is so foreign to us here in the tropics. There’s an apparent lack of government action, period.

For that very same reason the Aquino administration is under hot water for sluggish relief operations. Even international news agencies such as CNN and BBC took note of the fact that there is a lack of organized governmental assistance to the thousands of victims, particularly in Tacloban City. This is darn humiliating, to say the least. But yeah, we are not Japan.
That's why this government has to confront these issues and work out solutions in order for us not to be depopulated by Mother Nature. Early preparation – which both the local government units and the national stratum failed to do days before the said Category 5 storm hit us – is the key.

This country has to reform National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. We need more finances for adaptation. We need a better early warning system and we need sound preparations. Knock, knock, Mr. President. And we don't need your face in tarpaulins, Mr. Vice President, thank you.
 
Indeed it is difficult, much less, futile, to point fingers at this point. What is apparent is that the relief efforts for this disaster will weigh on us for years to come. And if we won't learn from these lethal lessons, Mother Nature will continue to do her thing - it's going to be brutal and we are not going to like it.


Photo Credits:

Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2009. Phototake NYC Satellite Meterology.
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2009. Herman Kokojan Black Star.
http://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/styles/gallery_featured/public/nodeimage/haiyan_111113_afp_tacloban.jpg?itok=ThrDhYVT

http://www.norway.ph/news/Events/typhoon-relief-aid/#.UosjIuKaXUx 

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