When the sea, propelled by back-to-back typhoons, flowed into Manila, I confess I was less than enthusiastic in responding to alarums about the destruction. Islands and people lying in the path of 22 typhoons annually should know after a thousand years how to deal with such disasters. Unfortunately, uncountable has been the number of times overseas Filipinos, friends, allies and even total strangers have been asked to respond to disasters in the Philippines: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, earthquakes, typhoons and more typhoons… Each disaster is followed by a surge in sentimental patriotism, inspiring a near-orgasmic mobilization to “help our compatriots, we are one nation, one people, etc., etc…” --which of course leads to the inevitable after-glow of self-satisfaction that makes tolerable the sight of people gyrating once again in wa-wa-wee or whatever those abominable shows are called.
I had hoped sitting on my hands would convey the message that “you’re on your own, with the leaders you have chosen, on islands afloat the vast Pacific Ocean; you do have to grow up” and thereby inspire a quiet but firm determination among the typhoon-battered, who would thereby organize themselves into delegations and visit each government agency responsible for the mess and demand that whoever heads it commit seppuku. And if he/she does not, then a good medieval stoning would be most efficacious.
The ability to respond to disaster should be of Zen-alertness, 365 days a year – not a quick blowjob that temporarily takes away stress but resolves nothing. Focus, as the yogi would say; do not be distracted, said the Dalai Lama. Disaster-preparedness is Zen-like in its awareness of Time – of the past and the lessons thereof, of the present and what can be done today and of tomorrow and the probability waves that can come crashing down on one’s head.
Time, I must say, is one element we barely think about; our national ADD kicked in eventually, with the Pacquiao-Cotto fight as the lethean digestif – for which the Special Public Reconstruction Commission established by the Arroyo government should thank the heavens with great fervor as public attention was diverted from its apre-typhoon plans. The effing Commission would get down, it claimed, to removing water lilies from waterways, treating the leptospirosis victims and repairing school buildings. The Commission members do not appear to be struck by the absurdity of removing water lilies when the sea is surging in. Oi! I suppose that each removed water lily would cost $10000 in donated reconstruction and rehabilitation funds. I had just finished a short story about a retiring guerrilla, giving it the title of “In the Season of Water Lilies” and wondered briefly whether I should send it to the Commission. But then do the members thereof even bother to read? I say, a good medieval stoning. A really good medieval stoning, I say. -- #