11:12 PM

Bayanihan Amid Troubled Times

Posted by Prosy Delacruz

Angge's Organic Farm in Zambales, which I visited in July 2009. Typhoon Ondoy visited this area in September 26, 2009, and Zambales was one of the 21 calamity areas.

A magis-driven leader is not content to go through the motions or settle for the status quo but is restlessly inclined to look for something more, something greater. Instead of wishing circumstances were different, magis-driven leaders either make them different or make the most of them. Instead of waiting for golden opportunities, they find the gold in the opportunities at hand. Heroes lift themselves up and make themselves greater by pursuing something greater than their own self-interest. “ - Chris Lowney

It came too quickly. Rains poured non-stop for 6 hours, pounding on the pavements, making the streets impassable. A waterworld emerged. A lot of folks coming out from work were trapped. Conditions became dire: a lake surfaced where parks once existed, cars floated around, moving with the strong current.

But, what was comforting was the spirit of Filipinos to step out of themselves and help out. One barangay chief was reported to have rescued ten folks on his own, swimming back and forth to rescue folks who sought higher ground on their rooftops. Another blogger, Manuel Quezon III, took primary position by collecting information from private bloggers and posting them on his facebook profile. He brought leadership when there was a vacuum of official information. Other Facebook folks posted their own stories of hope, of recollections about the floods that they've survived.

The first to organize rescue operations was the Noynoy Aquino Movement for President, perhaps because their volunteers had already been organized to a central communication tree. Volunteers congregated in Ateneo to pack relief goods. Even the ABS-CBN foundation was mobilized to collect relief and disaster donations. One of the programs on ABS-CBN, The Buzz, gave way to a fundraising which reported Php 20 million in cash pledges and Php 28 million in donated goods. They became a post for rescue needs and relief goods. The US Embassy made provisions for a helicopter, rescue boats, and a cash pledge amounting to Php 2, 400,000.

Early Facebook photos illustrated ordinary heroes, rescuing children, rescuing elderly, lending a hand to disabled in wheelchairs, finding ways of saving groups of people by helping them wade through floods using a rope, rescue boats, tricycles, buses, and even rescuing pets and dignifying their dead. As dire as the situation was, these altruistic acts made people more hopeful.

A month’s downpour of 455 mm of rain happened in 24 hours, Typhoon Ondoy surpassed the 350 mm of three days of Katrina rains in New Orleans in 2005. Any civil capacity prepared for disaster and emergency was outstripped.

But what caused the floods cannot be blamed on nature alone. The floods in Metro Manila were also caused by the release of waters from Angat and Ipo Dams. It was only at midnight of Sunday that the waters from these two dams were stopped from being released. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel urged the prosecution of those who released the water from the dams. ( Inquirer.net, Sept. 27, 2009 )

A California blogger, Richard Cavosora posted that “Australian Aid Paper described that Pasig River drains 13 major tributaries in addition to Manila’s vanishing narrow canals and creeks and if Pasig is blocked, Manila is flooded. “

I got countless posts and repostings on Facebook, the only reliable site that shared information on where the tulong centers are. One journalist, Violet Imperial gave important information on which places needed relief. Another posted a poem: “ When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with you above the storm, Father you are king over the flood, I will be still and Know you are God. “

Even Kris Aquino stayed on television for 12 hours to direct relief and recovery efforts. When crisis happens, “ kalampag sa atin lahat! The bell tolls for all of us to help, and tomorrow, first thing, I am going to Red Cross International, and designate my donation to do relief efforts in the Philippines. "We cannot ignore each other, we just have to care for one another. Let us take good care of one another. Pusong Pinoy hindi nawawala, “ said Boy Abunda.

I am not a fan of The Buzz nor of Show Biz Ngayon, but in these times of calamity and crisis, I found solace and hope watching Boy Abunda, Kris Aquino and Ruffa Gutierrez stepping out of their celebrity duties, offering their homes to the staff who lost everything, and pledging their day’s wages for the foundation’s rescue efforts. It might not seem much, but their efforts were invaluable to the needy. Pusong Pinoy prevails again and bayanihan floated in the raging flood waters! Salamat po!


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