Daily Archives: November 28, 2013

Self Reliance and Survival

I have to admit to getting angry with the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines.  People expecting fast relief efforts on behalf of their government, which if it was competent to begin with, would be a pipe dream considering the scale of the disaster.  The Philippines is made up of many islands separated by large bodies of water.  The typhoon cut a large swathe through the Visayas region affecting many islands and remote villages.  It would seem logical to me that in the event of a disaster, people who come from tribal backgrounds would have a better grounding with mother nature and know how to prepare and respond to these kinds of disasters.   They happen all the time here.

Use Hurricane Katrina in the US for example.  Here you had a disaster area on the coast of the mainland of the United States, a wealthy and capable country, and yet, look at the myriad problems that occurred and the time it took to provide relief to the victims.  So even in the “best” of scenarios, it is problematic to respond on timely basis and properly.  And here you are in the Philippines and it appears the best people could do is resort to looting commercial enterprises for their inventories and literally kill each other over the plunder.  The other avenue of escape was to flee to other major commercial centers like Manila or Cebu.

I marveled at Israel, a country of 8 million people, who could send a relief effort of planes, 150 doctors, nurses, technicians and supplies from half-way around the world, and yet the Filipino government couldn’t get out of their own way.  Lacking preparedness and competence, once in the fray they act as could be expected … as bureaucrats wanting an accounting of all supplies, repackaging and redirecting, for what purposes I don’t know, before they could be forwarded to areas hard hit.  Countries like Canada with a population of some 30 million provided aid faster.  Australia with less than 30 million people and all these countries much further than Manila is from the disaster area, responded with speed, concern and ability.

But the people themselves seemed lost.  Everyone waited for the government to respond.  “Where are they?  Why so slow?” were the cries heard all around.  No where did I see evidence of local leadership.  Maybe in the months to follow we will hear stories but it did not appear that way to me.

Bodies were left to rot in the sun and everyone decried the foul stench as they walked past.  Did anyone, all those young men, collect the bodies, dig shallow graves, mark them for later, take pictures while maybe the person could still be identified?  Seems to me everyone these days has a cell phone for texting and are always taking “selfies” to send to one another.  Well, here is a practical use for this technology.  I don’t know if the phones got wet and were destroyed or lost, but out of the population many must have had working phones but for lack of cell towers that were destroyed.  If digging graves becomes too difficult, a preplanned effort including burning corpses could be done in order to prevent disease.  With the moisture and heat of the Philippines, a body will not last long.  And putting it into a body bag and let it stew in the sun day after day might even be worse.  I don’t know.

Did anyone try to distill sea water into drinking water?  Anyone with half a brain could rig up a still to boil water and collect the steam run-off. As it was, another storm came a few days later providing fresh rain water that was available for collection.  Did anyone collect the run-off?  That kind of effort could provide a lot of water and everyone can participate in someway to support themselves.  It is well known that a human can survive a good while without food, but only a matter of days without water.  Hydration with clean water is the key to survival.

It’s tough but if someone was leading, organizing and putting people to work to help each other, maybe the looting wouldn’t occur and people would be saved.  That to me would be the true Filipino spirit and pride.  Not phony pride in Pacman winning his latest fight against a no-name opponent.

Where were the church leaders in raising peoples’ spirits.  What about building campfires/bonfires to help people dry off and warm up at night.  What about some sing-a-longs around the fire with people talking about their blessing to be alive or their concerns for loved ones still missing?  Or simply a place with others to spend the night?

Many pregnant women were having babies due to the stress.  Why not have those people, or injured moved to a more central location so relief efforts don’t have to go our searching for them? (I know searches would still be conducted but you get the idea).  The injured could be treated sooner rather than simply waiting for someone to go to them.

I saw trucks sort of tipped over on two wheels.  Why not tip them back upright and get them running?  Instead of people looting the gas stations for themselves, priority should be given to emergency type vehicles such at these re-purposed vehicles.

Temporary shelters need to be built.  Slit trenches dug for sanitation.  Some kind of food collection and distribution system for what goods are available.

My point is there are lots of things that can be thought about, discussed, planned for, assigned, trained for so that when a disaster happens people have the basic knowledge and skills to take care of themselves for some time because it has been shown time and time again that even in the best of cases, that help can be a long wait away.

People need to realize that it is their duty to fend for themselves and each other.  Do not depend on the government.  If help comes from them, fine.  If not, you won’t miss it because you were self-reliant.