The Philippines, Its “Worst Flooding in Three Years” And More Lies
[Author's note: The following gonzo piece below is not meant to offend; it is meant to inform readers of things that do offend the sensibilities of concerned human beings. This account is as experienced first-hand from being in Manila for the 2009 typhoon, working directly with NGOs and governments during and after the crisis, and presently being involved with Disaster Risk Reduction work.]
“The Philippines shut financial markets along with government offices and schools in Manila and nearby provinces after heavy rains led to what may emerge as the capital’s worst flood in three years,” reads the headline for Businessweek‘s article on the flooding affecting Manila. The opening sentence describes a problem not just with the humanitarian crisis, but a media crisis affecting Asia (surprise, surprise), the political impotence of the government, and the bourgeoisie pigs who make up a 1% far more calloused than Wall Street could ever match up against.
Pictures of people waist-deep floodwater and growing, homes being submerged in Marikina village, rafts made out of Styrofoam to get out of Makati, a month’s worth of rain in 12 hours–that was all from Typhoon Ondoy/Ketsana (who the hell names these things?) in 2009, and now Typhoon Nesat/Washi is hitting Manila worse, just three years later.
The story of the flood back then: international humanitarian relief efforts are mostly shouldered by the Red Cross and other NGOs non-government organizations) as the Philippine military and police scramble to evacuate people with limited manpower and equipment (let alone shelter), a highlight or two appears in American media, and it is immediately discarded as CNN and Fox News talk about Michael Jackson sightings in Las Vegas with Elvis in their spaceship, while the crisis and the threat of another typhoon continues to plague the Philippines.
Then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the impious bitch whose legendary corruption during her nine-year scandal-filled regime includes the murder of fifty journalists, has her aides order volunteers in a Red Cross station to stop all work they’re doing (including surgery) so that she can walk around in a half circle and have her photographers capture her waving to doctors and patients, without even a speech, a thank you, or acknowledgment of their efforts, and her “compassionate concern for her people” is highlighted in the headlines the next day, while the flood damage is only background material for her ego cult. Meanwhile, my Canadian doctor friend volunteering in that tent, Dr. Oz, contemplated using his scalpel and jamming it into the black void where a beast like her was supposed to have had a heart. Looking at the patient he was helping and the line of many, many more, he decides against it and leaves her to Fate’s fickle temperaments, knowing all tyrant swine from Robespierre to Nixon will one day lose their heads, or at the very least, lose face. Reputations take lifetimes to build and a minute to destroy. George W. Bush and his motley crew of baby-killing chicken hawks (hawkish politicians whose military experience is minimal or absent), meanwhile, breathes a sigh of relief that someone just may have been more inept than he was with Hurricane Katrina, which a former Indian minister [name withheld for legal reasons] commented “If anyone handled an Indian flood as horribly as America did with Katrina, we’d have had a coup d’etat; that was downright bloody pathetic.”
In Laguna, the south of Manila, where the rains were significantly weaker, in an international school I once called my high school alma matter, my friend tenders her resignation as the rich brats, children of banking and skin product business tycoons overwhelm her sanity with their ignorance and impunity that transcends American apathy. “Don’t you know we have a flood in Manila?” she asks high school students who are more concerned with drawing phallic shapes in their textbooks. “School didn’t get canceled since it wasn’t big enough here; I wish there was more rain so we didn’t have to come” one voice laments in response. “But people are dying, how would you feel if you were there and your home got flooded?” she asks trying to control her instinctive reaction to reach into her handbag and take migraine medication in front of the kids. “We’re rich, they’ll save us” one girl says while composing a text message to her friend asking which clubs might be open that Friday.
Now, three years later: we are in a similar situation again with a Philippine president whose election campaign was the promise of zero corruption (yet unsurprisingly is the son of former president Corey Aquino) and a flood already worse than Ondoy/Ketsana. Institutions and initiatives could have been implemented to be prepared for it if it happens again (because it does, Southeast Asia has monsoons yearly, you imbeciles). My colleagues from various NGOs and government ministries tear their hair out in frustration that the answer is just the hope-crushing reality check question, “Where’s the money?” and across the board remains the same since day one in any kind of development work. Can America afford to offer aid as its students resign themselves to their iPod mixes to drown out the reality of being part of an economy where gainful employment that can pay back their student loan debts is less believable than unicorns and adult men dressing up as cartoon ponies? Probably not. Can Fox News and the rest Rupert Murdoch’s savage empire of dirt make enough people care enough to ditch a few morning double-espresso shots in favor of donating to any of the aid organizations? Can we put aside suspicions about the fact that the current president of the Philippine Red Cross is also a local politician?
My colleague from the Netherlands says “The problem with the Philippines is that people have got to let go of this ‘the rich die last’ mentality and adopt the ‘everyone should help everyone else out’ approach instead. Rich and poor here at least all understand we all need to work together to survive.” Disinterested rich people in the same country have less love for what suffering goes on 50km away and have less of an excuse than people living on the other side of the world, whether it’s America or England. Underpaid, under-prepared, and under-appreciated military and police forces trying to keep order as the fatalities rise. Politicians wishing they had more unity and money (but mostly money) to handle this disaster. But the crooks here are still the media.
It’s not just the mainstream media that still can’t give good attention to Asia and Asian America beyond China’s super power status or Japanese and Korean pop culture; it’s not just the journalist-killing conspiracy that is the Philippine government when it was under Gloria (that insidious corpse-white bleached wretch); it’s social media. Why? Because if you’re just clicking like and sharing like the bandwagon hipster activists (slacktivist) that made Kony 2012 popular, go read up and participate.
My Twitter and Facebook feed when Internet was restored wasn’t flooded (no pun intended) with someone’s gluten allergy-induced bowel movements and other inanity, but of people from the individual to the NGO level taking pictures and actually helping or asking for help while showing you how to. Guys had parties where they listened to 1980s New Wave music while making sandwiches and organizing clothing drives for flood victims. And most people are on Facebook or Twitter than they are listening to the lies of Rupert Murdoch. So you can jam that morbid drivel back into your gaping maw and demand attention be given to this by actually talking about it, and maybe even, you know, donating or volunteering. You want them to care about Asia? Show them you care about Asia, since we are the people, and we are social media. So you can be part of the indifferent bastard brigade, or you can be one of the millennium rock stars and connect yourself and everyone else to news and issues that really matter. The choice is yours.
[Photo courtesy of here.]