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Ondoy

Ondoy
Ronald Roy

It was nice bumping into Sandra Wilson, an unmarried twenty-five year old daughter of an old friend, in a Mc Donald outlet that had resumed operations the day right after Ondoy had battered Metro Manila. Over burgers, fish filets, French fries and drinks, we naturally talked about the foul weather.
She was with a much older married couple who did not see eye to eye on a number of big and small issues, such as how the Pacman should train against Cotto, and how Dionisia should publicly comport herself as a matronly paragon of conservativeness. And yet they constantly held hands. Two minds, two bodies, two souls, one heart! Hmm, strange, but I doff my hat off to this pair! Anyway, we started our conversation with Ondoy.
Except for the fact that Ondoy, compared to other typhoons, was as innocuously windless as it was murderously voluminous in rainfall, there was nothing new about it. Ondoy did ravage all that lay in its path with a fury never previously witnessed over the metropolis. Indeed, although the waters’ savagery and unexpectedness seemed to Metro Manilans as if the awesome apocalypse had come to pass, there was really nothing new about it, save for the ancient refrain Ondoy preached that Man has nobody but himself to blame for his misfortunes, including the so-called fortuitous events, or acts of God, as ecologists and other scientists repeatedly warn mankind of.
Was Ondoy one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse? So mind-blowing is the trail of death and destruction Ondoy has left behind that, surely, the question shall persist—and perhaps remain unanswered—until the end of time. I remember once in high school asking the Rev. Fr. John P. Delaney if he could enlighten me on the four horsemen mentioned in the Holy Book’s Revelations, and he curtly advised me not to even read this part of the bible, stressing that even theologians often found themselves interminably locked in arguments. Looking back, I can now only suppose he wished to spare me as much a futile exercise of comprehension as the intrinsic horror the topic evokes–a horror that Ondoy can itself conceivably match.
We just don’t seem to learn, ever, from our own mistakes. It’s funny we should hold God accountable for slamming down a calamity that cruelly snatches a human life away from its family. It’s even funnier we sometimes blame Him for a misstep into a manhole. And “why, Lord, why” is our common foolish gripe. Being the fools that we are is the force majeure, or act of man, that completely exonerates Jehovah, and unless we recognize it as a dynamic of faith and science, we may be doomed to cause our extinction as human beings.
While it remains to be seen if we can daunt this dreadful fate, I am more inclined to think the odds militate against an urgent inculcation of a collective sense of social responsibility, given our puerile obstinacy to mend our ways. Like I often disapprovingly say, Filipinos are generally sticks in the mud in the pursuit of national unity and progress. Just think, aren’t we yet the doormat in the whole world? And aren’t we also painfully ruing we are now the shameful beggar in this corner of the earth appealing for foreign aid for funding post-Ondoy clean-up and rehabilitation operations?
So who’s to blame for all of Ondoy’s mess? Sandra was right when she answered: Everybody, in varying degrees, from a perforated ozone layer down to clogged-up sewers and waterways. She was also correct in saying that Ondoy had left behind some lessons to learn from, particularly the value of human life, synergistic human interaction, and the countless blessings that we all can count.
And if I may add, we could boost the human spirit by conjuring up inspiring images of rapid rehabilitation of life, home and work–all achievable on a shared dream of progress and unity, and on an unflinching declaration we shall soon prove we are among the greatest talents in the universe. Unless we start believing in ourselves anew, I’m afraid we’ll forever remain stuck in the mud.
There’s a lot to do in this generation, but we have to start somewhere soon, and by that I can only think of the three branches of government in initiating the bold moves for the purpose. Changing the system and form of government is an illusory remedy. Shifting to a parliamentary setup does not mean we’ve found our answers, because any system is only as good as its leaders and our people will allow it to work. A unicameral system will not better the lives of Filipinos because the likehood is extremely high the same or similar rotten leaders and people will man it. We’ll only be seeing a superficial change that will not stop all the looting, hoarding, overpricing, panic buying and “scrooging” during raging typhoons, nor the usual corrupt practices and scams involving so-called public servants. (Email: arnydolor@yahoo.com, cell # 09186449517, landline # (02)7106701)

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