Vol. 38 No. 8 Jan 2012
Contents Vol. 38 No. 8 Jan 2012
Sharing the light Back and brighter
Freeing the Bangsamoro A Philippine Colony
Bumpy Bunny Ride The year that was
10 Theories from where money is grown 11
So, where exactly does your garbage go?
The RH Bill A clash of thoughts
Minding Mining COVER STORY
Thief in the night
Disasters and democracy
Black is the absence of color, the primordial void. It is about emptiness, a deep-rooted feeling a parent contains while holding his son’s water-soaked and lifeless body. Black is fear -- the trauma that engulfs the children at the sight of a raindrop. It is the evil that creeps, flashing memories of a debris whirlpool and the struggle to survive. Black is mourning -- the gloominess of separation and loss. It is the wanting to repair what is indefinitely broken and to recapture what is already forever gone. Black is remorse and anger. It is when victims demand accountability for what has been. And it is what happens when people are not satiated with what is just. Black is ‘Sendong’ with all its unimaginable horrors. And to its countless victims, this magazine we dedicate.
The year of the awakening
Dear Xavier University
The official student publication of Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan Vol. 38 No. 8 Jan 2012
Publishers Subscribing Students of Xavier University | Editors Ryan Louie G. Madrid Editor-in-Chief , Bianca Nathalie Y. Llamis Associate Editor,Jose Alfonso P. Sendaydiego Design and Video Editor, Glenn Paolo A. Goopio Managing Editor, John Kenneth E. Ching News Editor, Ma. Therese D. Agcopra Campus Features Editor, Hannah Mae S. Salugsugan Local Features Editor, Ma. Rosetti G. Villamor National Features Editor, Nadine Hendrikka E. Legaspi Global Features Editor, Lyle Justin A. Egay Sports Editor, Kristoffer James L. Nambatac Layout Editor, Haiko B. Magtrayo Photography Editor, Alexes June E. Baslot Freehand Editor | Finance Officers Shola Mae Rose G. Zamayla Senior Finance Officer, Frances Joy G. Tan Junior Finance Officer (Trainee) | Managers Caroline Joy R. Go Human Resource Manager, Ruth Anne B. Suson Office Manager, Kristoffer James L. Nambatac Sr. Computer Systems Manager, Glenn Paolo A. Goopio Online Accounts Manager, Janrick Carl Romales Jr. Computer Systems Manager (Trainee) | Staff Writers Ressan Nash N. Alonto (Trainee), Sahara Iman M. Alonto, Sam D. Garcia (On-leave), Caroline Joy R. Go, Dharyl Jean A. Indino (Trainee), Marc Stephen S. Manuel (Trainee), Ruth Anne B. Suson, Princess E. Tolentino (Trainee), Leasusana C. Ty (Trainee), Jacqueline P. Uy, Robert A. Villaluz, Jr. (Trainee), Joule Artemson Visabella | Staff Artists Francis Ryan Avellana (Trainee), Rochelle De Las Alas Barros (Trainee), Richard Mars Caberte (Trainee), Jenamae G. Espineli (Trainee), Carlo John M. Gaid, Volco Magbanua Christian Love S. Gamolo (Trainee), Feliciano T. Legara IV (Trainee), Rico M. Magallona (Trainee), Arsenio F. Meneses III (Trainee), Breisa V. Moralde, Carmi Yvette C. Salcedo, Venice Marie P. Villo (Trainee) | Moderator Ann Catherine Ticao-Acenas For contributions, please address your articles and/or comments to The Crusader Publication office, StC 302 Xavier University 9000 Cagayan de Oro City Circulation: 7, 500 copies
The best out of the worst
estroyed properties. Displaced residents. Interrupted services. Lost lives. What could be worse? Tropical storm ‘Sendong’-- that was shrewd enough to wreak havoc on a pitch dark evening-tore down homes and took the lives of the people in southern Philippines, especially in Northern Mindanao. A region that rarely experiences typhoon, the people were caught off guard and the rage with which it smacked was not only unexpected but also deemed too much. It was the flood that thieved away hope and broke the people’s resilience. But it was a different type of flood, a flood of heroes from all walks of life, that fortified the attempts to fight and bounce back, allowing the communities to pick up the broken pieces and move forward. For one, rescue teams from various groups came together to help sift through the ruins in the hope of finding anyone still alive. Donations from charities all over the world have also been pouring in from time to time. The spirit of generosity was thick in the air. Xavier University’s Operation: Tabang Sendong, for one, gathered Php 20, 490, 920.70 worth of cash gifts from walk-in givers without needing to be prompted. On top of that, many volunteers rallied round to assist in the different relief operations organized in and outside the city. The University was able to deploy 1,724 volunteers who showed that they are indeed men and women for others. Sendong may have ended 2011 with plenty of misery but it also brought to light the benevolence of friends, neighbors and perfect strangers. From typhoon survivors themselves—who had their personal tragedies to deal with—to people from the opposite side of the globe, everyone came to help one another get through the storm. It has been more than a month since the disaster fell upon us. But since then, despite the circumstances, attempts at optimism have never once petered out. People were able to look at ‘Sendong’ straight in the face and say that humanity isn’t damned. Indeed, sometimes, the worst brings out the best in people.C
Je ne sais quoi Nadine Hendrikka E. Legaspi
n October 31st this year, we hit 7 billion. Sounds like we hit some cosmic jackpot but it’s something serious, and definitely a whole lot bigger. The United Nations declared in a report that on that last day of October, the world’s population has been projected to have reached 7,000,000,000 people, just 13 years after it reached 6 billion. In 1927, there were only 2 billion people. That’s a lot of zeroes gained in 84 years. The UN says the world is going to be okay, though. “With planning and the right investments in people now ... our world of 7 billion can have thriving, sustainable cities, productive labor forces that can fuel economic growth, youth populations that contribute to the well-being of economies and societies, and a generation of older people who are healthy and actively engaged in the social and economic affairs of their communities,” according to a report by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. But I don’t buy it. The UNFPA launched a movement called 7 Billion Actions, which aims to “inspire change that will make a difference by highlighting positive action by individuals and organizations around the world.” They even have this song that they recorded, with lyrics in the chorus that go “We have to bring the world together/ We have to live as one/ We have to bring the world together/ We shall overcome” Bring the world together, really? Overcome? Tell that to the millions of unemployed people around the world who can’t find decent jobs. To the uneducated parents who keep making babies. To the children who know no other life than one on the streets. To the old people who were abandoned by their own children. To the youth that don’t know where their lives are headed. To the rich people who aren’t doing anything with their money except making themselves even richer. I do believe in change, and I do believe in action that creates it, but the site and its statement, and the song, definitely, are all too blindly optimistic for reality. In the words of Aristotle, virtue itself is not enough; there must also be the power to translate it into action. The UN does serve as a uniting body for the world, but it can only do so much, really. Of course every government in the world will have to think of something, and the attitudes of every person with the resources to help out will have to change as well, for them to realize that their money would be very well spent on helping people in need, instead of spending millions of dollars on marriages that don’t last. Although the UN and its other agencies are putting a positive spin to all of this, there’s no denying that the rise is indeed very alarming. It’s not a cause for celebration; it’s a sign of caution. Right now all the countries in the world are classified into two categories: developed and
developing. Developed countries are mostly ones in the First and Second World like The United States, France, Japan, England and Belgium, and developing countries are mostly in the Third World, like countries in Africa, India and our very own South-East Asia. The people live the thickest in developing countries, where there are more people, more babies, less work, less resources and more problems. It has been predicted that “over the next forty years, nearly all of the 2.3 billion projected increase will be in the less developed regions, with nearly half in Africa. By contrast, the populations of more developed countries will remain flat, but will age, with fewer working-age adults to support retirees living on social pensions,” according to the same report by the UN. Simply put, while developing countries will keep growing, old people will soon outnumber the working aged ones in developed countries, while babies will only be a rarity. Although mothers are bearing less children on average in these times, there are actually more women in the world, and therefore more babies everywhere. And it will keep happening, if not in the rich countries, then in the ones that need more attention from their more developed counterparts. What does our government plan to do? The UN report also wants to focus on empowering young people with economic opportunities, planning for the growth of cities, developing programs to share and sustain the Earth’s resources, and improving education, including sexual education. Now we’re talking. Of course it boils down to that! It shouldn’t be a secret why the world is getting bigger. An average of 3 babies get born every second. Now, blink once. Boom. Three babies. Again. Six. Again. Nine. Babies will keep getting born, and there’s no stopping that. Whether all those babies will be loved, cared for and will grow up to be good citizens in the future however, is the biggest doubt of all. It all boils down to responsibility. There is no shame in supporting the RH Bill. There is so much to it than contraceptives and birth control, and definitely more benefits for women to have healthy and wanted babies than what everyone seems to say is a whirlwind of immorality and damnation. The bill gives everyone a choice, and everyone has the right to make one. And no, it does not make abortion legal. Everyone should read the full text of the bill, really. Everyone. Seriously. One day, we just might find ourselves without food, water or space. The U.N. has estimated a population of 9.3 billion by 2050, and there is expected to be more than 15 billion people on Earth by 2100. We’ll just keep getting bigger and bigger until the Earth can’t hold us anymore, and though I hear they’re looking for signs of life in Mars again, until then, all we can do is conserve what we can and share what we have, and stay cramped in the only world that we know.C
Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
To give and not to count the cost
Versus Ryan Louie G. Madrid
he disaster response to the catastrophe spawned by ‘Sendong’ has been overwhelming. The disaster, to say the least, has brought out the inner kindness, heroism and compassion from people. Just as much, however, it has also unveiled self-absorbed, selfglorifying people who used the disaster response to further their political agenda. Such is the case of Congressman Rufus Rodriguez. He published an entire page of political gimmick in Gold Star Daily (page 3, January 3 2012 issue), parading his achievements with an overload of cheesy ‘Sendong’ photos that screamed, “I HELPED. I really did. Seriously.” There was a photo of him hugging a flood victim. His eyes were glistening with tears as he wrapped his hands around the victim that you’d think it’s taken straight from your teledramas. It was too self possessed and very painful to look at – maybe more grotesque than photos of ‘Sendong’ corpses. Another photo shows him standing like a boss in front of a helicopter with the caption: “about to take the helicopter to bring relief goods to Besigan.” Apart from it being reminiscent of a teenager’s photo album caption, it showed just how vain he is that he had to let people know every single thing he does. We may very well expect to see an ad of him with the caption: “Me, ironing my clothes for the congressional session later” or “Me, brushing my teeth before my privilege speech on the RH Bill.” The sincerity of his intention to help the flood victims
Mischief Managed Bianca Nathalie Y. Llamis
may not be questionable, but it has been tainted by the very fact that he shoved right to the people’s faces what he has done. Apparently, he is on a publicity campaign to try to secure his win in next year’s election. This brings into mind the “Anti-epal” bill currently being deliberated in Congress. It basically makes illegal the vanity of politicians like Cong. Benaldo who are using public money to perpetuate their political and social power. As early as now, the campaigns for the 2013 elections have already started, what with the already emerging political gimmicks like that of Cong. Benaldo’s. Thus, the need to expedite the proceedings for the “Anti-epal” bill well before the election should be in order. It’s amazing how Cong. Benaldo and many other ‘epal’ politicians are so full of themselves that they can still think of politicking even in desperate times like ‘Sendong’. Having studied in XU and Ateneo de Manila, he should know better the Ignatian principle of giving and not counting the cost. He is doing the exact opposite. And he is not alone; many other politicians just do it in subtler ways. To use cheesy photos of the disaster response to shout to the world that one has helped is already ethically problematic and devilishly vain. To use the photos, the victims and the disaster in politicking using public funds is more than overkill.C
Dare You to Move
he various uprisings and protests that colored 2011 have one weapon: Social media. From the toppling down of dictators in the Arab world to the Occupy Wall Street in New York, the protests would not have gathered much attention and support if it were not for social media. Yet while it began online, the people did not stay there. Instead of just posting status updates one after another, they walked their talk. They fought for the change they wanted on the streets. In Cagayan de Oro, we are seeing our own uprising against the man who ruled the City for 13 years. He has been criticized for his slow ‘Sendong’ response, for placing the unidentified bodies in the landfill, for allowing the settlers to stay in geo-hazardous areas despite repeated warnings of the DENR, and for general incompetence. He has fought back against the allegations tooth and nail, and the battle rages on—in print, on air, online and in the streets. It began online, because that’s where the people are. But they did not stay there. What started out as verbal attacks on Facebook are being silently translated into a signature campaign at Kiosko Kagawasan in Divisoria, the heart of the city. Daily protests, led by the same individuals who are vocal on Facebook, are ongoing in a move to raise awareness of the people’s dissatisfaction. On Twitter, non-Kagay-anons who are on either side of the issue tweet their support.
As we have seen in other places before, and as we are seeing in our own now, social media is what sustains protests and counter-protests. It does not let the people forget. It does not let the flame die out. Instead, it creates a wildfire out of a spark. But the youth of Cagayan de Oro are mostly silent. We post the occasional status criticizing Emano, right at the heels of our status on the latest love quote we could relate to. We also find in our feeds the occasional defense of Emano supporters, like that of his nephew’s, a little below the link to Lady Gaga’s latest video. Yet while it starts there, it also ends there. What’s our stand? We are the youth, the powerful youth—and yet we don’t let our voices be heard. We let the grown-ups do the work while we wait for outcomes. We ignore what is brewing outside our classrooms and houses. Cagayan de Oro is, for better or for worse, on the beginning of the brink of change. Will we remain as silent witnesses only? Will we have all the resources but none of the courage? I dare you to move. Take a stand. Know which side you’re on. You don’t have to take to the streets in between classes. You don’t have to skip PE to rally outside the City Hall. But when the opportunity comes to translate your Facebook statuses into actions, take it. Throw in your support. Move. And change will come swifter, thanks to you.C www.thecrusaderpublication.com
By Caroline Joy R. Go
Design by Kristoffer James L. Nambatac. Photos by Carmi Yvette Salcedo
fter last year’s successful and award-winning run, the Supplementary Training to Reinforce Education of the Academically Gifted but Marginalized Students (STREAMS) and TheCrusader Publication continue their “crusade to bring public high school libraries back to life” with the bigger and brighter Sharing the Light (STL) project. Having partnered with Lumbia National High School (LNHS), which is now nearing completion with 1140 donated books and a fully furnished library, STL sets its sight to another partnership. This time, with Camaman-an National High School (CNHS).
Refueling the flame Winning the 2011 Magis Award for Best Community Project and completing their mission at Lumbia National High School did not keep STL from giving more joy, especially during this holiday season. Marilou Paller, school librarian at Camamanan National High School, is eager to have her school be chosen as this year’s beneficiary. “What we wish for our library are reading materials and… physical facilities like the tables and chairs… kanang library jud siya, na mahitsura jud siya ug library,” shares Ms. Paller of the current situation of their library. Of course, their wish is STL’s command. But the endeavor in providing these amenities is no easy task. From last year’s door-to-door scheme, organizers initially planned for ad solicitations to gather funding for STL. The attempt gained little success. Luckily, STL qualified for cash grants from two big companies in the Philippines: Globe Telecom and Colgate. STL won a Php 25,000 grant from Globe Telecom on October. But another Php 25,000 would be added if the project could round up 200 Globe or Touch Mobile network subscribers to register for their text promos during an STL event. Thus, the organizers planned a Youth Unity Fun Walk on November 26 using the initial grant given. Participating organizations, CNHS students, supporters, and the organizers themselves pledged
to join in on the walk throughout Cagayan de Oro. Catching fire There were rough patches during the planning of Youth Unity Walk. The initial date proposed did not materialize due to some participating organizations’ last minute commitment issues. The organizers were disheartened, but they didn’t give up. The “Unity Walk” became a “Unity Day” instead, starting from the 7 am to 5 pm on November 26, allowing STL more time to gain the required 200 subscribers. Booths at the University Main Lane were open to receive book donations, too. “We took the setback as an opportunity to market STL—to gather supporters, more student orgs na gusto mu-lend sa ilang hand,” co-project head Glenn Goopio explains. By 3:33 pm, 145 subscribers were listed. By 5pm, STL exceeded the 200 subscribers count winning them the Php25,000 grant that was promised. “This experience has taught us not only the value of perseverance but the importance of quick thinking and most of all having a positive attitude… the event definitely changed my perspective in achieving goals—that success after all is really just a matter of putting our hearts and minds into it,” Glenn shares. A big surprise While the grant from Globe was being competed for, the organizers decided at the last minute to join the
Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
cause, naka decide lang mi after na nakadaog mi na hatagan namo sila [ug] part sa among grant kay basically… among difference [sa votes] is only 100 plus,” Glenn explains. “The same ra mi’g cause, the same among school, the same reason nganong gaconduct mi ani na charity. Murag mas nindot siya kung i-share pud namo.” But it doesn’t stop there. You too can be part of the contagion. STL is still receiving book donations for the remainder of the academic year. Simply drop off your donations at StC 302. Colgate Fresh U Project, which was also looking for student-run projects it could support. “We joined the Colgate grant [contest] because we thought we had a slim chance of getting the Globe [grant],” recounts one of the organizers. After massive spamming and liking from unrelenting supporters through Facebook, STL made it to the top 6 of Colgate Fresh U Project, receiving Php 50,000. Representatives from STL were flown to Manila for the awarding ceremony on January 6 at Route 196, Quezon City. With two grants in the bag plus a group of dedicated members, STL is set for a bright future ahead. “Ma conclude namo karon na AY kay in-ana ka active ang mga tao. Na tungod sa ilang pagka-active, possible namo na ma meet ang timeline within one academic year only… and positive kaayo mi na ma-inherit ni siya na trend.” Passing the torch Beams radiated on the faces of the CNHS students as they welcomed STL committee members to their school for the initial turnover and Memorandum of
Agreement (MOA) signing by Principal Apolinario Cagata and co-project heads Al Ron Casiño and Glenn Goopio last December 2. “To the students, this is for you. After the project, after the library has been improved, hopefully you can make use of your library,” says STREAMS president Harold Floren during his speech. With everything set, the first and second phase of STL, which is the physical improvement of the library and skills enhancement for teacher librarians, will commence this January. This means CNHS students will soon be receiving their new set of books, tables, chairs, and teachers will get their librarian training. “Excited mi. New year, naa mi new library,” a student exclaims during the turnover. But according to Glenn, “It’s not so much about the physical improvements of library itself… [because] education is at its best to supplement the learning experience of the student.” Apart from pursuing their project, the STL committee decided to lend a helping hand to another Colgate Fresh U top 7 finalist, DVSkwela, a fellow XU project that focuses on educational assistance to kids in Divisoria. ”Since the same ra man among
* * * It’s beautiful and mesmerizing to see light in its different forms, floating paper lanterns, exploding fireworks, or a flickering candle. But what’s more beautiful is not just seeing but knowing, and for a change being part of how the flame came to be, how the warmth is spread and how the light is shared.C Interviews: Glenn Paolo Goopio- STL organizer Marilou F. Paller- Camaman-an National High School librarian References: Sharing the Light yet again; Therese Agcopra / Jacqueline Uy Sharing the Light on Christmas; Jacqueline Uy / RosettiVillamor
By Sahara Iman M. Alonto and Glenn Paolo A. Goopio
Vector & Design by Kristoffer James L. Nambatac
heir days are awoken by the alternating blast of high-powered weapons as they cramp in poorly ventilated evacuation centers. They plead for help but their appointed officials would rather transact favors for powerful politicians in order to extend their indefinite terms. In their minds, they picture the consequences between only two choices: to live in running or to stay in silence. This is the struggle of the Bangsamoro people in the midst of an undeclared war and an unstable government.
be taken into custody and tortured until they sign confession letters.” In addition to fleeing from the perils of war, the Bangsamoro people bear with the uncertain status of the ARMM government. With the recent Supreme Court approval of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10153, which allows the synchronization of the ARMM elections with the 2013 national election and local polls, the Bangsamoro people are to be governed by a leader who is solely chosen by the Aquino administration.
It’s not their choice For the past two administrations, war has never ceased in ARMM despite the policies declared by the government such as Estrada’s allout-war and Arroyo’s all-out-peace. Fast forward to Aquino’s administration, an explicit ceasefire agreement and an advanced peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), ensured peace in the land until the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) decided to declare an all-out-war to avenge nineteen AFP men who were slaughtered by alleged MILF members in Basilan on October 18, 2011. President Aquino berated their publicly criticized impulsiveness by proclaiming his administration’s all-out-justice policy. According to presidential adviser on political affairs, Ronaldo Llamas, “[The policy is] focused on who are the real enemies, which needs a more surgical response rather than allout chemotherapy, which is sometimes just as destructive as the disease.” Despite the clear intentions of the policy, the AFP charged eight MILF members and three hundred John Does in Albarka, Basilan with murder, yet records from the COMELEC reveal that there are less then three hundred men registered in the area. According to a Bangsamoro blog, “These Moros would
The Bangsamoro Claim After an approximately five hundred year brawl for freedom, the Bangsamoro people who are established in ARMM, dumped their arms in exchange for a negotiation table with the Philippine government. In year 1997, the MILF, who represented the Bangsamoro people, confronted the Republic of the Philippines to end their colonial status and to claim their right to self-determinate. Ever since, the negotiations persist to attune compromises from both sides. The negotiations accommodate that the MILF shall not seek for political independence in return the Philippines shall not utilize the authority of the constitution. Instead it shall abide the international law, which promulgates people’s right to selfdeterminate. Despite the compromises, the negotiations persist to encounter delays as they withstand incongruences. As asserted by Robert Alonto, a member of MILF peace panel, “Philippine regimes are run by Filipino elites who have economic and political vested interests in Mindanao and Sulu…which primarily impel them to perpetuate the colonial status quo in the Bangsamoro homeland in the guise of
protecting Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity and suppressing Bangsamoro right to self-determination.” The Bangsamoro shall access their right to self-determinate through the establishment of a Bangsamoro sub-state under the framework of the Philippine state. This state will be under a Bangsamoro parliamentary government elected by the Bangsamoro people. With this in mind, Mr. Alonto emphasized, “Now why do we need to have a Bangsamoro sub-state? The simple answer is that we want to have our own Bangsamoro state and government that the Bangsamoro feel as their own, and not forever be a captive colony of the Philippine state. In short, the Bangsamoro people want to determine and forge their own future by their very own hands.” The wrong kind of democracy There are numerous scholars of the law who insist on invalidating talks of separation in the name of national unity. It is not a question anymore of possibility for them than it is of jurisdiction set in the context of national unity– their context – and imposed on the separatists. It would be unnatural, as a matter of fact, if they had not yet insisted on invalidating self-determination given such a superior perspective. Thankfully, the outdated Philippine Constitution is not universal. Talks of the Bangsamoro are certainly well beyond the jurisdictions of its conceit. Why wouldn’t it be when the Filipino people themselves have once placed their independence over its former governments’ desire for ‘national unity’? To say that a separation undermining the right of the state
Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
holds more weight than upholding the right of the people is to miss the point entirely. Not only that, it should bean act of hypocrisy and discrimination. What would be the worth of a state, really, if not for its people? The Bangsamoro debacle is a quiz on Political Science tackling national priorities and close-minded politics. Our government is made for the people by the people. Bootlicking politicians and scholars do what they do best and concur oneness. National unity is what it is called and it is imperative because it is what everybody is saying. The error lies exactly in this assumption. National unity, insofar as actual ‘unity’ is concerned, is still pending results. Just because we belong to the same basketball team does not inherently say we are united. If anything, we are but. Politics has simply distorted its own science too well that it leads many to impose suppositions that are far from the realities of our society today.
As Mr. Alonto has claimed, the composition simply do not want the Bangsamoro to split because they wish to preserve the state more than to uphold the rights of its people. Preservation and unity are always different because the former is a conclusion while the latter a choice. The only questionis: How truly democratic are we? The Bangsamoro people are trapped in another preposterous college debate. An immature, purely theoretical approach orchestrated by their antagonists to delay, deny and discriminate. While talks may be already predisposed to end against their favor, resentments from all sorts of groups will continue in all sorts of forms. Independence is a human right the people of Bangsamoro are not about to give up just yet, and everybody has their own interpretation. Mr. Alonto explains, “The bone of contention will inexorably shift to political independence as the last option.”
If it should happen, no one can tell exactly just how bad it might affect Mindanao. Only one thing is certain: that just like the Filipino people, independence is also the destination of the Bangsamoro. It’s not so much a question of how, but when. When it does happen, no one knows the capability of the retribution of dismayed souls. There might be a time when the people of Mindanao would not longer think of what to eat for mealtime but rather worry if they still have time to have another meal. Are we willing to pay the price of our government’s inconsistent dealing with people who are only claiming their rights as humans?C
Sources: http://www.gov.ph/2011/06/30/republic-act-no-10153/ http://bangsamoro.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/all-males-inalbarka-village-in-basilan-charged-with-murder/ http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/85167/how-all-out-justice-callcame-to-be-president-aquinos-strategy http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/topstories/10941-reverse-armm-ruling-high-court-urged
abbits are gentle in nature. They are known for timidity—calmly assessing any situation before resorting to a peaceful end. 2011 was the year of the rabbit. But it wasn’t exactly the most harmonious we’ve had since. Real life fairytale April 29, 2011 saw one of the grandest, fanciest weddings in the history of weddings. Prince William and Kate Middleton made their vows at Westminster’s Abbey with the rest of the world celebrating along with them. The happy couple is now rumored to be expecting twins. And as classic fairytales go, the girl gets her Prince Charming, and the evil witch (or—in this case—just the scruffy bad guy) gets busted. A few days after the royal wedding, Americans cheered in relief at the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden, head of terrorist group Al-Qaeda and hideand-seek world champ. On May 2, US forces raided Bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan where he was shot in the chest and head. A day after Bin Laden was pronounced dead, the world’s most wanted terrorist was buried at sea (a la Megatron) following Islamic burial tradition. For the Americans and the rest of the world, they had this to say: “Counterterrorists win.” Biggest events that never were While political humor in some animated TV series might have predicted Bin Laden’s capture one way or another, there were “professional” seers that went about announcing their predictions about world events, with Judgment day being a high-value topic. If there’s anything bigger than an epic fail, that would be Harold Camping who predicted—twice—that the world would end in 2011. He first predicted doomsday 8
By Maria Therese D. Agcopra and Robert A. Villaluz to occur on May 21. That never happened. Thus, Camping postponed his apocalypse to October 21. That never happened, too. What happened, though, was that he made it to Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Failed Predictions” list. If anything, though, the only thing close to the Rapture in terms of threat to mankind was Rebecca Black. The 14-year old pop “singer” shot to fame because of her auto-tune prowess in the catchy (admit it, it is catchy) song Friday. Now famous for teaching Youtube viewers the proper order of the days of the week, Black has gone from internet sensation to worldwide phenomenon—in a way. She did a cameo for Katy Perry’s chart topping Last Friday Night music video. Chick must really have some sort of dedication to Fridays. Some of the biggest trends didn’t necessarily have to include ear-splitting tunes like Black’s, but physical dexterity. The year made way for planking, owling, horsemanning, and batmanning—potentially creative ways to protest/resolve the passage of the RH bill. Other than being the usual viral craze, today they’ve become a revolutionary statement. After budget cuts for state colleges and universities were implemented, students flocked to the streets to protest. But instead of ticking off police through noise barrage, they expressed their sentiments by planking. A congressman filed a bill against it, seeing planking as a form of public nuisance. The proposal was, however, planked.
Harry Potter franchise. Over the course of a weekend, Deathly Hallows Part 2 garnered $476 in ticket sales across the globe, breaking records beyond comparison, and proving that even after a decade later the magic of Harry Potter lives on in the hearts of everyone—wizard and muggle alike. Although it was a relief to see Lord Voldemort die in the last Harry Potter film, it wasn’t the same reception when the world heard news of some of our idols’ passing. This year, the world lost perhaps one of the most celebrated innovators in the history of modern technology: Steve Jobs, the man that made the famous Apple insignia a symbol of quality and pure genius. In August, Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO due to his medical condition (he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003). On October 6th, at the age of 56 years, Steve Jobs was finally laid to rest. Pinoys on the rise Lots of Filipinos also made the news this year. Beautiful Pinays made waves in different international beauty pageants in 2011. From last year’s “major major” win by Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup with her bombastic yet
Beginning of the end While we’ve still got one more Twilight movie left to revel in Taylor Lautner’s glorious abs, The Golden Trio—Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson— were all very emotional at the London premiere of the final film in the massively acclaimed Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
graceful “tsunami walk” won 3rd runner up in the Miss Universe 2011 pageant. Following suit was Gwendolyn Ruais, who represented the Philippines in Miss World and bagged 1st runner up. In another sphere of beauty, the Puerto Princessa Underground River was named one of the provisional seven wonders of nature. Filipinos also won their own battles at home, especially regarding concerns of government corruption. After news of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s alleged plan to escape the country, the authorities were hard on keeping her from leaving when she appealed to seek medical treatment abroad for cervical spondylosis. This November, Arroyo was arrested for vote fraud in the 2007 elections. The government seemed really bent on delivering justice and installing order, though we’re still keeping our fingers crossed on the long-standing Spratlys debacle and the Bangsamoro dispute. On the sporting arena The Philippines can’t seem to have enough of basketball last year. Shortly after the NBA lockout, eight NBA superstars spearheaded by Kobe Bryant were imported to play in the Philippines against our very own players. In boxing, Manny Pacquiao once again proved that he is the one to beat when he won against Juan Manuel Marquez in their 3rd face-off. While team Marquez was whining about how their boxer should’ve won, team Pacquiao burst into celebration. The same thing, however, couldn’t be said
to the fancy and well-celebrated Philippine Azkals whose hopes for the World Cup died after losing to foreign opponents. Like them, team RP fell short in improving its medal tally in the 26th South East Asian games in Indonesia, bringing only 36 golds and settling for a sixth-place finish. Closer to home Quite the newsmaker was our very own university, opening the year with a new president, Fr. Roberto S. Yap, and a new college, the College of Computer Studies. The Wednesday scheme was implemented, and it being a wash day, gave the students a chance to strut their stuff (with matching colorful Ray-Ban wayfarers, nevermind if they’re from Night Cafe) especially in the newest campus hotspot: the Magis Student Complex. Earlier this year, the big bad wolf threatened close to home. The German Doctors Hospital had to temporarily stop operations after receiving an extortion attempt by an unidentified group. Good thing all that tension was drowned by this year’s heated college intramural (well, aside from the three flyover constructions around the
city). Just when students thought the Eagles will score their seventh winning streak, the Warriors gave the Eagles a taste of their own medicine, winning by a large margin in the medal tally. The campus commotion didn’t stop there as the XU Festival Days 2011 started a little earlier, highlighting heroic leadership. And that was put to test when ‘Sendong’-triggered flash floods hit the city on Dec 17. Heroes emerged among people and the university even opened its arms for the victims and initiated relief efforts, underlining the true essence of Christmas. *** Despite the rabbit’s small size and its vulnerable appearance, this year still packed a bite and gave us a lot of action in 365 days. True enough, 2011 was still quite the bumpy bunny ride for us.C
learned as much as I did (if not more) in my three days in Sultan Kudarat than in my three years of college. On November 3, 2011, I found myself riding a van to Sultan Kudarat with two other XU students, three faculty program officers of Kristohanong Katilingban sa Pagpakabana – Social Involvement Office (KKP-SIO) and a driver. The province is only one of the many areas assisted by Catholic Relief Services an international nongovernment organization in partnership with XU through KKP-SIO. My job was simple: to learn as much as I can in the three days that we’d be spending with farmers in the outskirts of the city. Despite slipping on the steep hills and getting cuts from barbed wires, I managed to learn a few very important theories from each of the many humble people living in the land where money is grown. Theory #1: Anyone can get rich. Magtanim ay di biro---especially if the people you are selling your hard work are paying you less than you deserve. Manong Ricardo Galve, resident coffee farmer of Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat describes his years as a farmer before XU-CRS came to his life, “Lisod jud.” Before, he sold all his harvest usually for a mere P30/kilo to a “middle man”. The middle man would then sell the crops to a huge company like Nestle Philippines, Inc. for P100/kilo, earning him a huge profit of P70/kilo! Farmers would have a hard time selling directly to companies. Without proper equipment to filter the high quality coffee beans and knowledge of how much a good kilo of coffee is worth, farmers would have to endure a low profit for a year’s worth of harvest. Then, XU-CRS Collaboration Project came along and the residents of Sultan Kudarat were handed with hope. The project involved teaching the farmers around the area how to properly plant coffee beans. Volunteers facilitated in clustering the farmers so coffee can be sold to companies in bulk. The farmers were even made to make a roleplay presentation to practice negotiating with managers for their market studies. “Dako kaayo among pasalamat sa CRS,” Mang Ricardo says. After a year of having the project in motion, Manong Mike Bualan had bought a house and lot, cars, motorcycles and a touch screen phone--all in one harvest. Manong Jimmy Ascuitin, overall cluster leader of coffee farmers and a member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), however, invests his profit for a greener take in fertilizing their plants instead of enjoying a touch phone. He promotes the benefits of using organic fertilizers for eco-friendly farming. Theory #2: Earnest people do exist. Tumulong ay di biro----especially if you are a volunteer from a non-government organization (NGO). “On call ka lagi…walang holidayT,” admits Alladin “JP” Guhmalon, Municipal Agro-Enterprise Facility (MAEF) volunteer in charge of the coffee farmers in Bagumbayan. Sometimes, he and his wife would fight about the time he spends in the farms instead of his family. Thankfully, his wife was formerly a NGO volunteer so she understands…at times. “…[There are always times that] tawagan ka ‘pag may problema. Kahit Sunday o holiday mapilitan ka talagang pumunta sa area,” says JP. “Di mo maiwasan magagabihan sa area matapos ang meeting.” The road towards the area is long and treacherous, filled with remnants of landslides from recent storms. Travelling at night time is absolutely inadvisable. It doesn’t help if the people you wish to assist aren’t very welcoming. JP recalls the time when he would always pack a tent when going to the area so he’d have somewhere to sleep when he has to stay for the night. “Noon, dito ako matutulog ‘pag magabihan,” says JP, pointing at a small spot next on a house’s front yard. Sultan Kudarat is known for the Moro-Christian conflict of the 10
past. According to JP, a Moro, the Christian members of the community didn’t trust him much in the beginning. But as soon as the residents realized that his intentions were selfless, he is now always offered a place to stay when he needs it. NGO volunteers aren’t the only ones willing to lend a hand. Local government units of Bagumbayan provide the farmers a municipal nursery of coffee and improved the roads for easy access to the area. They then ship the healthy baby plants in a truck to the main area once they’re ready. Theory #3: Students wish to do something more. Matuto ay di biro---especially if all the facts and theories are confined inside the four walls of a classroom. Before Sultan Kudarat, the place where I imagined being after college was the corporate world mostly because that was all my teachers taught me about. Then, Service Learning Program (SLP) came along and it opened so many possibilities more fulfilling than just being filthy rich. I learned a lot in Sultan Kudarat. I learned that even the poor could get themselves a touch phone with hard work and some help. I learned Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
that you can’t talk to other people like you would to your classmates… especially if that person was an MNLF. I thought I knew hard work until I was slapped in the face with all the success stories of Sultan Kudarat. I saw opportunities in Sultan Kudarat as well. There were so many things I could give to the people there: the basics of accounting, tax laws, and how to invest their profit properly. All of these I learned from my teachers and I want to pass it on to those who need them. Right now, XU is working on integrating SLP with its different colleges, according to Mr. Arniel Daluz, SLP Coordinator. As for other projects, chemistry majors were able to warn the residents of Balingasag about the harmful chemicals found in its river. Food technology students taught the mothers of Jasaan how to make use of their rich vegetation instead of eating mere canned foods. *** I shall never forget what I’ve learned in Sultan Kudarat, taught by experience, the most effective of teachers. I hope others too will learn about the real world in places where money is grown.C Crusader
Design by Kristoffer James L. Nambatac
he very last thing in the minds of sleeping Pantukan, Compostela Valley residents is a landslide greeting them a (not so) happy new year. Fresh from welcoming 2012, they were immediately faced with something that this year usually connected with – disaster. Pantukan -- a town at the foothills of the Diwata Mountain Range, a mineral-rich region in that corner of Mindanao -- houses a bustling hamlet inhabited by miners around the country seeking their fortune buried within these very mountains.
Hundreds of miles north of Pantukan, mining activities in the Cagayan river’s watershed and the hydraulic flush mining along the Iponan River were partly blamed by experts for the Dec 17 flash flood that wrought damage to the city. The dislodged soil from mines flows toward the river and settles on the riverbed, effectively making the river shallower and losing its capability to hold more water in the case of a strong rain. The recent tragedies in the city and in Pantukan are the latest in a long line of miningrelated accidents that occurred in the Philippines. And there’s been plenty of mining-spwaned environmental hazards and accidents already.
Mining in the Philippines: at a glance Look around. Chances are, you will see a thing that is a product of mining. The metal tip of your ballpen is one example. Same goes for the necklace you wear. Even the pavement you’re stepping on comes from a mining process. It is no doubt, then, that we are reaping the benefits of mining. The mining and quarrying industry of the Philippines contributes about $1.87 billion (2010) in exports. Leading export partners are Japan, Australia, Canada, and China. The industry employs about 197,000 people. Taxes relating to mining amount to about P9.1 billion (2010).
By John Kennet Due to our location at the Pacific Ring of Fire, we have some of the most extensive deposits of mineral ores in the planet; there is an estimated $840 billion worth of untapped minerals beneath our lands. Deposits of copper, gold, and chromate are among the largest in the world. Also, the seabed at the disputed Spratly Islands is widely believed to contain vast reserves of oil and natural gas. 22 large-scale mines are operating in the Philippines, with a yetdetermined amount of legal (and illegal) small-scale mines. Two methods of mining are widely practiced by these mines: open pit and underground, though in recent years the hydraulic method has been gaining prominence. Notable mining mishaps In the island province of Marinduque, the Marcopper mining accident of 1996 made shockwaves across the country, and even worldwide, as it demonstrated how mismanagement of a mine can kill a community’s livelihood and its surrounding ecology. Toxic mine tailings spilled from the Tapian pit into the Makulapnit and Boac rivers at a rate of 5-10 cubic meters per second. At its aftermath, the spill effectively destroyed fishing in those two rivers and made the Boac River ecologically dead. Residents along the river complained of skin and respiratory problems; in a study made by the Department of Health in 1996, nine people were found to have zinc in their bloodstream being more than 200% above tolerable levels. Closer to home, mineral exploration and mining-related activities have threatened the ecological health of Lake Mainit, the country’s fourth largest lake. Seven mining companies are cleared by the government to explore for minerals for 19,773 hectares of land around the lake. Residents, particularly the Mamanwa tribe (original inhabitants of the area), have protested the presence of these companies as they pose an environmental risk to the lake and its surrounding forests. Recently, the landslide at Pantukan is a telling example of the threat that the proliferation of mining poses to hillside communities. Strong rains dislodged the soft earth of the hillsides of the mining community at Pantukan. Rocks, soil, and trees crashed toward the miners’ houses at around 3 am, catching sleeping residents entirely by surprise. Destruction was widespread: about
h E. Ching
60 houses were buried by feet of mud. As of press time, there are 40 persons confirmed dead with about a hundred more missing. XU takes a stand There is growing sentiment against mining recently as the Save Palawan Movement was conceptualized following the murder of environmentalist and journalist Gerry Ortega. Since that incident, the movement has launched a nationwide signature campaign in hopes to convince national and Palawan officials to effectively halt mining operations in the island. Within XU, a grassroots initiative was spurred by the Kristohanong Katilingban sa Pagpakabana (KKP) in the mining issue. According to KKP Faculty Program Officer Lezlee Escalante, the organization started this initiative last year. “As far as I know, the initiative against mining, specifically the Save Palawan Movement, last year pa lang gisugdan na gyud siya. Kaning karon nga activities on Save Palawan against mining, and the other initiatives in relation to mining such as the efforts to localize it sa Surigao ug sa Taglimao […] karon siya gitutukan, gihatagan ug attention. […] Our efforts are towards that direction and though maingon nato na medyo minimal pa lang.”
Although the movement is in its infancy, it has been active in terms of information dissemination. “There are initiatives like forums, information education campaign. At the same time, we are trying to integrate it in the NSTP alternative classes,” Escalante explains. She adds, “Students have to take a stand on this issue because we have to remember that the world is finite and this world is the only home that we have. And if we do not make a stand, if we do not engage ourselves, if dili ta magpakabana kung unsa gyud ang gakahitabo ani, then I think it’s like saying mura gud ni ang unsa naa sa atoa.” *** With every pound of ore extracted from the mines comes pounds of rock blasted, scores of trees cut down, and tons of toxic tailings deposited and taken for granted. Yet, as modernization continues its course, the pressure is on us to find a solution to this before it gets too late. Or we can find ourselves not only digging for gold, but also for our own graves.C
Thief in the night It was pitch dark. Electricity was cut off. People were already asleep in the dead of night. Then it came, ravaging as swiftly as it left â€“ waves of monstrous waters and debris bulldozing everything in its path. And just like that, lives were snatched away and lost forever.
By Ryan Louie G. Madrid, Bianca Nathalie Y. Llamis, Ma. Rosetti G. Villamor, Nadine Hendrikka E. Legaspi, John Kenneth E. Ching and Princess E. Tolentino
he Balistoys were once complete. At 10 pm on December 16, Roque Balistoy, 41, and his wife Lilian,43, still had all of their five children (Grettel, 18; Brian, 17; Nona, 12; Rosalinda, 9; and Ian, 6) when they woke them ap. The water was about five feet high by the time the family reached the 2nd floor of their two-storey house. The Balistoys resided in the middle of Cala-cala, Macasandig, one of the worst-hit areas of the flash flood spawned by tropical storm ‘Sendong’. The area is known to be prone to floods since half of the place is surrounded by a river system. “Adtong 2009, ang tubig taman ra tunga sa among first floor so abi namo okay ra mi sa second floor,” says Roque. But the water had in fact reached the second floor. Coincidentally, their house was under renovation; they had no roof. Roque used the planks of wood lying around as a bridge to their neighbor’s rooftop. The whole family reached their destination safely. The worst thing about that moment wasn’t the heavy rain on their backs, the cold wind that penetrated their bones, nor the fact that the water has totally submerged their 20-feet high house. It was the sounds of screaming, the crumpling of tin roofs, and the raging waters bulldozing everything in its path. Roque could only think of one thing to comfort his family: “Gi-ingnan nako sila nga mag-pray lang. Pasagdi nang nangahitabo dira. Basta pag-pray lang mo [kang] Jesus.” Moments later, Lilian heard a huge crack. Both houses were collapsing. Next thing Roque knew, he was dragged deep down in the murky water with unknown things bumping into him. After moments of struggling through the current using a log to keep him afloat, he saw his children from a distance. “Nakita pa nako si Grettel… dayun si Brian, gigunitan niya si IC [Ian]. Naka-triangle formation pa mi. Giingnan nako si Kuya [Brian] na bisag unsa man gali, ayaw buhii [iyang] manghod.”
All of them, including the other residents who managed to survive at the time, were heading towards the Golden Mile Bridge, near the Rodelsa Circle. “Makita pa nako mga sakyanan ga-labay-labay,” recalls Roque. Underneath the bridge was a hellish ride, he says. It was like being in a whirlpool, dragging him in all directions and getting hit by debris. Roque had to contend with the horror longer as the flood took him to three more bridges (Carmen, Marcos and Kauswagan-Puntod) before he was emptied out to the Macajalar-Cagayan river estuary. At 4 am the next day, Roque was floating near Camiguin island when he met another survivor from Tibasak, Macasandig. Together they climbed on a fishing boat they found nearby, initially to rest their arms. As soon as other survivors surfaced and called for help, the two started rescuing as many people as possible. Later, fishermen discovered the group and took them to the coast of Opol. He was then taken to the municipal office where he would soon meet up with Lilian, Brian, and Ian. Among all four of them, only Ian, the youngest, remained miraculously unscathed. When his father asked him how he survived, the boy simply said, “Nabuhian ko ni Kuya [as they headed towards the bridges]… nakasakay dayun ko ug baboy. Naa pa gali naggunit sa akong tiil… dayun nakasakay ko ug kawayan, nakatulog…” According to Ian, the pig had drowned along the way. Moments after his dramatic meet up with some of his family, Roque was notified that his daughter, Nona, was alive but was sent to the hospital due to continuous vomiting after swallowing too much flood water. Grettel and Rosalinda are still missing. Grettel (AB IS 2) is a member of the XU
Glee Club and a student assistant (SA). “Wala gali ko nasayod ana iyang pagka-SA. Siguro [she did it] tungod kay [wala] nako nakaya madungan ug college silang duha sa iyang manghod [Brian].” The Balistoys were once complete. But that was before ‘Sendong’ hit. Now they are missing two and Roque is left wondering how the disaster came about. The blame game Dr. Dexter Lo of the XU-Engineering Resource Center explains that disasters happen when hazard, exposure and vulnerability are put together. He elaborates that hazards (e.g. typhoons) are natural processes of the Earth, but when people are exposed (e.g. settlements in hazard-prone areas) and are vulnerable (e.g. no dikes, no flood warning systems to mitigate hazards), disasters occur. “Perfect recipe jud siya [Sendong disaster], naay hazard, naay heavy rain, naay river process, naay tao along harm’s way and vulnerable pajud sila, mao na nga disastrous jud,” says Lo, adding that, “Disaster is not a humanitarian problem, but a development issue.” In terms of hazards, the amount of rain brought by Sendong was catastrophic in itself: a month’s worth of rainfall was released in 12 hours of nonstop raining on Dec 16. Naturally, the rain cascaded down to the rivers, causing them to swell and wreak havoc in nearby settlements. The city’s topography also rendered the area prone to massive flooding. Leo Jasareno, Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief, says Cagayan de Oro is a low-lying area with reduced capacity to accommodate rushing water from the upstream rivers. However, experts say the damages of the hazard have been worsened by human
COST OF DAMAGES
Track of Tropical Storm “Sendong” (Washi) Max Wind Speed (JTWC/1-min avg): 100 km/hr 24 hrs accumulated rainfall (PAGASA Lumbia Station): 180mm
activities and errors. Presidential adviser for environmental protection Neric Acosta provocatively declares, “Sendong was a combination of both climate change and environmental impacts with anthropogenic or human-induced activity... I will even say it’s 90% human stupidity.” For one, the city’s watershed has been largely exploited, resulting to deforested mountains, loose grounds and river siltation. Illegal logging has been rampant in the 137, 933 hectare-wide Cagayan de Oro river basin, causing the decline in the watershed’s water absorption and erosion prevention abilities. In fact, scores of logs were washed away to the sea from the mountains. In a Department of Environment and Natural Resources report (DENR), about 5,000 m3 of woods have been confiscated after the flood. Small-scale and illegal mining activities also contributed to the flood by adding tons of silt to the river. “The continued hydraulic flush mining along Iponan River has likewise caused widespread flooding of the CanitoanIponan areas of the city,” says Archbishop Antonio Ledesma in a pastoral letter. Secondly, man-made structures have constricted the river flow. Jasareno blames rapid urbanization in the city because it blocked the natural river flow, effectively reducing its capacity to hold water. Acosta also lambasts the construction of the Paseo del Rio, asking, “What was the climatesensitive planning of putting up a hotel on the river?” He explains that the structure narrowed the breadth of the river and caused the backflow of the current at the height of the flood, causing more damage to the Macasandig area.
Thirdly, the settlements in sand bars and areas close to the river have aggravated the damages. A provision disallowing settlements immediately close to the river has been widely neglected by the residents and the local government. In fact, the local government legalized the settlements of people in geohazard areas like Cala-Cala (a village with around 400 households entirely swept away by the flood) through his pisopiso program. Acosta reprimands, “You don’t give or apply for titles to sandbars on riverbeds! You don’t hand out inexpensive housing or initiate programs of that sort, putting thousands of families in harm’s way when the [area is on the] geohazard map!” Moreover, after the January 2009 flooding, DENR-X already recommended to then
City Mayor Constantino Jaraula the prohibition of new inhabitants and the relocation of existing residents in geo-hazard areas
here are hundreds, possibly thousands of stories. Some, bizarre; most, if not all, tragic. Tear-jerking. Heartstring-pulling. Depressing. We’ve heard so many stories that at some point they intertwine; they link, they connect, and say one thing: We had no idea. Unexpected kaayo. The water came up so fast. It was nothing like we expected. None of us knew how bad it was going to be. No one knew how many lives would be lost, how many houses would be washed away. No one knew those moments they had with their loved ones and friends would be their last. No one knew because no one thought that a city formerly famed for being typhoon-free would be ravaged by a tropical storm of that magnitude. And that is the real tragedy. We know a story or two, or three, or ten— we hear scores more, and we will remember each of them, because each story means so much to us, because they stay with us forever.
Flood Damage Map of Cagayan de Oro City December 2011
like Cala-Cala, Biasong and Isla de Oro. But The National Disaster Risk Reduction these recommendations fell to deaf ears. and Management Council’s (NDCC) latest Another scapegoat was the absence of report recorded 1,257 dead, 6,071 injured, a flood warning system. Critics say that the 182 missing and 441 rescued/survivors January 2009 flooding should have compelled from 13 affected provinces in Visayas and the local government to set up flood warning Mindanao. In Cagayan de Oro alone, 615 systems, but they never happened due to died, according to the Department of Social complacency and a false sense of security. Welfare and Development - Region X. Typhoons usually move northward and In the XU community, the Office of rarely pass by the region. While the city Student Affairs recorded 2, 080 students, experiences heavy rainfall during December, faculty and staff who were affected. Three they don’t usually escalate to something students lost their lives in the tragedy disastrous. Interestingly, in December 16-17, (Hannah Tancongco - BSBA 4, Joanne 1920 - exactly 91 years before the ‘Sendong’ Cañete - XUHS 1, Michelle Padilla - MBA incident - a strong typhoon also hit the city, 1), three are missing (Grettel Balistoy - ABIS according to the Manila Observatory. 2, Michaella Samson - XUGS 2, Jay Calderao Later, myths of what caused the flood - BSChe 1) and 16 are hospitalized. surfaced among evacuation centers. Among NDCC also estimated the total damthe many, the most told of was that of two ages to infrastructure, agriculture and old beggars asking for food and water in a school buildings in all areas affected at Php neighborhood in Balulang. One resident, 1,633,283,487. In Cagayan de Oro, the damaccording to the myth, ages amounted to Php gave the couple rotting 962,200,738.00. Confood and no water and sequential effects of shooed them away in ‘Sendong’ in the city INDIVIDUALS AFFECTED disgust. The couple, also include the dein turn, said, “Ayaw crease in water supply, kabalaka, tagaan mo namo ug mas daghan the increase in the prices of basic commodinga tubig.” True enough, tons of flood water ties and the spread of leptospirosis. came moments later, raging through Balulang and other settlements near the river. Various Heroism in times of disaster other versions of this story have been spread At the onset of the flood, there are by word of mouth. accounts of people frantically warning their families and neighbors of the fast-rising The aftermath flood, thereby giving them ample time to The result of ‘Sendong’ was brutal save themselves. Others braved the current and unimaginable. Lives were lost, houses to rescue stranded people. River-rafting and infrastructures were destroyed, water businesses like Bugsay turned their rubber facilities were damaged and entire villages rafts into rescue vessels, pulling living people were wiped out. in to safety, while the officers from the
onstant jud ang fear,” says Miguel Vasallo. “Hadlok kaayo mahitabo ni usab.” Miguel was still on Facebook when it was raining hard, when he noticed that water was seeping into his room and his bed, and when he checked outside, the water had risen to their legs. He awoke everyone in their house, pushed the door with all their might and ran out of the house. While they were running, the current was holding him back, and his mother, who had a heart problem, was almost getting an attack. Their helper was traumatized and wouldn’t move, so Miguel had to pull her away. While they were trying to get away, he could hear his neighbors screaming “Tabang! Tabang!” from all sides, but there was nothing he and his parents could do. While they were trying to get to higher ground, he could remember the screams of people who didn’t get to escape. “Dili jud nimo malimtan,” he says. “Murag dili jud ka pagawason sa tubig, ba. Thank God naka-saka mi ug higher ground, pero naay mga wala naka-lahos. Ga-tan-aw mi sa likod, pero gi-ingnan ku skung papa ‘Ayaw na’g tanaw sa likod!’ Kay sakit man kaayo mag-huna-huna ka na naay mga na-biyaan na mga tao.” They were staying in a relative’s house in Nazareth, all four families cramped inside, because there was nowhere else to stay. Nevertheless, Miguel feels relieved that although they lost everything, they didn’t lose each other. “Tulo mi sa family nabahaan, sa Balulang, sa Tibasak, ug sa Consolacion, pero at least nabuhi rami tanan.” When they got back to their house in Consolacion, the sight broke their hearts. “Pag-balik namo dadto murag ghost town najud ang Consolacion, so few nalang ga-stay sa Consolacion karon…”
Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
at the Agriculture Satellite Canteen, thus giving the University a hub for all reliefrelated activity. Donations and manpower started to pour into the headquarters, allowing Tabang Sendong to expand its scope of operations to include heavily hit areas aside from evacuation centers. To facilitate the operations efficiently, committees were formed according to function (i.e. executive committee, receiving, deployment, repacking, information, documentation and communications). Volunteers from and outside the XU community, like Japanese student Issey Tanaka, who flew in all the way from Japan to help out, came to provide manpower during the three-week relief operations. The University has also collaborated with different organizations such as the Catholic Relief Services in its relief efforts. The Covered Courts, intended for use as the venue of the Christmas Party at the time of disaster, was converted into an evacuation center for affected members of the XU community. About 142 families (700 individuals) were housed in the center, where they were provided with relief goods and free medical services. The University is also taking an active dia, information on the catastrophe went role in the multi-sectoral disaster response viral and worldwide donations came pour- team called Sendong-aid headed by the Deing to help the flood partment of Social victims. On twitter, Welfare and Developtweets asking for doment. Sendong-aid, nations were trendof which XU is the ing, as well as on Fasecretariat through cebook where profile the Kristohanong KatilHOUSES TOTALLY DAMAGED ingban sa Pagpakabana photos and wall posts of netizens were ‘Sen- Social Involvement dong’-related. A group on Facebook called Office, established its command center in “Mata na CdO!”, whose members are spread the XU Gymnasium. all over the world, went the extra mile by faAs of press time, the efforts of Tabang cilitating donations from its members and Sendong have provided relief to thousands setting up a consolidated online database on of families in about 150 communities – the ‘Sendong’ aftermath. Relevant discourse including evacuation centers – inside and on matters affecting the city are also heavily beyond the city, reaching as far as Iligan. discussed in the group. Also, XU has been able to raise around Php Xavier University, as well, was quick to 20 million worth of cash, check, and bank respond and came to the aid of the flood donations. vicitims. To date, XU is involved in resettlement The morning following the flood, and rehabilitation efforts, especially in the University Chaplain Fr. Eric Velandria, SJ five-hectare plot in Barangay Lumbia the and KKP-SIO immediately organized a team University has donated for the purpose of to conduct a relief operation at evacuation relocation. centers and affected areas proximate to the University. NSTP students were initially Resettlement: New homes, new lives mobilized to gather food, water, and clothing With houses washed away, Roque from establishments around the city. and hundreds of other victims now ask The relief operations, named Operation: themselves: “Where do we stay?” Tabang Sendong, established its headquarters The disaster has resulted to 52, 435
effrey Caangay was exhausted from his prelim exams when he came home to their house in Tibasak, Macasandig. He had fallen asleep when his father woke him up, saying the water was rising. Fast. “Ngit-ngit kaayo, grabe na kaayo ang hangin, and murag in a state of shock jud ka kay first time pa ni sa imung life nahitabo,” he says. He had managed to turn on this flashlight and find his way to the rest of his family that was washed outside, when he heard his older sister Vanessa scream for help. He handed his flashlight to their father, so he could rescue his sister, while Jeff made sure their mother and younger brother were safe. His father and his sister had stayed on a tree near their house but as the water rose even higher, the tree had collapsed, submerging them in water. His father emerged, but a piece of debris had hit his sister on the head and knocked her unconscious. His father held on to electric wires, and all sorts of debris passed, cutting his right leg and scraping his left. Jeff, after using their floating refrigerator as a raft, had made his way to a high neighboring house with his brother and mother. “Ayha pa daun ku na aware na ang tubig, ni-abot na ug 40 to 50 feet,” Jeff relates. “All you could hear sa palibot jud nimo [kay] mga tao gapangayo ug tabang. Tanan jud. Mawala daun sila. Mawala na dayon ang mga tingog.” At around 5AM, the water had receded. Jeff came down and inspected the damage the flood inflicted to their house. “Sa first jud namo na search kay daghan kaayo ug patay. Babae, bata, tigulang… pati lalaki,” he recalls. Their neighbors had directed him to where his sister lay. “Naalaan gani siya’g mannequin, kai puti man kaayo akung ate… I was hoping jud na buhi siya. I was hoping na okay ra siya...” She was already covered with a blanket when Jeff saw her. Jeff talks about how guilty he feels that he didn’t get to say goodbye to his sister and tell her how much she cared for her. The days that followed the death of his sister, his mother was greatly depressed. Days after [his sister Vanessa’s] burial, “Sige dayon siya’g ingon na ‘Mag-uban ra lagi ta, Van, mag-uban ra ta puhon’,” Jeff recalls. At dawn on Wednesday, sharing one room with his grandmother, Jeff’s mother started making breathless noises, and her lips were beginning to turn blue. Jeff checked her pulse and her mouth, and felt nothing. They rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. “It’s indescribable jud how [it feels when] a son [loses] his mother… timing na Christmas pa jud, ug New Year pa jud.” Since the flood, and everything that followed it, Jeff talks about how his life has changed— that he should be more responsible as a kuya so he could guide his younger brother. “He’s too young pa jud para mawalaan ug mama, dapat amu jud siya i-guide, basin ma-misguided siya, basin aha siya mapaingon…” Jeff had promised his mother that he would finish his studies, and that he really would, and find a job to support his family. He sees his situation now with his brothers and father as an opportunity to strengthen their bond together, although it is the greatest challenge of all to keep living without their mother and sister.
Armed Forces of the Philippines hauled in the dead bodies. The Philippine Coast Guard also rescued and retrieved people who were washed out to the sea. Fishermen along the coasts of Opol, El Salvador, Agutayan Island, Balingasag and Camiguin also lent their hands in rescue and retrieval operations. Relief: volunteerism and kindness overflows Victims who were displaced by the flood like the Balistoys were housed in evacuation centers around the city, mostly elementary schools. In the latest report of DSWD, there are 3,535 families in 25 evacuation centers in the city. The victims were given relief goods by various groups that immediately set up relief operations. From regular citizens donating food and clothes, to private companies holding feeding programs and to countries sending monetary assistance, the help extended to the victims was overwhelming. Cyberspace also became a hotspot for relief operations and dissemination of information. Google contributed in the form of creating a name-finder software purposely made for faraway relatives and friends to know their loved ones’ whereabouts. This is the same database used during the tsunami that hit Japan early last year. Thanks also to the power of social meCrusader
damaged houses, with 14, 883 of them totally wrecked and 37, 552 partially damaged, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Managment Council. Those who were displaced by the flood are temporarily sheltered in barangay halls, parish churches, and public schools--those that were not inundated by the floods. Others sought refuge in their relatives’ houses. President Benigno Aquino III has ordered that those displaced should not be allowed to return to their areas due to the geo-hazard risks constantly present in these areas. It is for these families that the relocation efforts are being fast-tracked. In an open letter to City Mayor Vicente Emano, University President Fr. Roberto C. Yap announces that “Xavier University will grant the local government of Cagayan de Oro City, usufruct rights to Five (5) hectares of the University’s property in Lumbia as resettlement site for families whose houses were destroyed during Typhoon Sendong”. As of January 20, resettlers have started using the land for the tents given by the Philippine National Red Cross. XU partnered with land developer A. Brown Company Inc. for the construction of concrete houses where the beneficiaries will permanently reside. Around 500 families will be accommodated in the Lumbia resettlement area. “Xavier has been
eeling nako bitaw ang ga-kuhaon ni Lord kay ang mga good ones,” Sheena Pagtalunan says. She had no idea that when her father texted her to find a way to get home to Balulang in the rain as soon as she could, a tragedy was about to take place. As the floodwaters were rising fast, their father had run with the current against him to their house, to tell her and her sisters to get out. That exertion of strength was their father’s last, when his body failed him as he had started the car for their escape. “Gi-atake na dayun siya, murag gi-cardiac arrest siya or na-stroke,” she says. In the moments when it seemed like their father wasn’t moving, but he was listening, she and her sisters had said their sorries, thank yous and I love yous, and honoring their father’s heroism of dying for his daughters, they fought for their lives. The water was rising higher than ever and they were flushed out of their subdivision. She and her three younger sisters were left to fend for themselves in the raging waters, and after the sisters had said their goodbyes, in case they would die that night, they got separated— her two other sisters together, and she with her youngest sister, Anikka. The water had devoured the eldest and youngest sisters and they tumbled around and around in the water, when in a terrible moment when the current was unbearably strong and they were being beat up underwater, she lost grip of her sister. “Gina-try nako siya ug reach, tapos nahikapan pa nako iyang ulo, iyang buhok, pero dili na bitaw siya gakaanod with me,” she recalls in tears. “Lord, tabang. Mao ra jud akung gihuna-huna.” Sheena emerged safe, along with her two sisters, and her mother who was in NHA. When she had gone back to their house, it was remarkable that their car, with their father inside, was untouched, when all the other vehicles of their neighbors had been washed away to canals. She felt relieved that their father was still there, and was slowly beginning to accept that he was gone. She had found her sister Anikka lying still and serene, like she was sleeping. “Gi-plastar jud siya ug tarong ni Lord,” she said. Sheena had picked her father for their family’s kris kringle. She had always asked her dad what he wanted for Christmas, but he would never answer. Later she found out that her youngest sister Annika had picked her, and their father had picked Annika. The three of them struggled the most that night. To Sheena, the triangle was more than a coincidence. It was a premonition that she should have gone with them that night. Her father’s gift to Annika, Sheena relates, is that he would be there to watch over her in Heaven. Anikka’s gift to her, Sheena knows, is her second life. She says she believes now that her father wants her to take his place as the family’s breadwinner, alongside her mother, and that would be her gift to him. “Na-realize nako na ako jud ang dapat magpaka-strong.” She says. “Na-realize nako na dapat ako mag-step in as breadwinner, tapad sa akong mother ug sisters.”
the first to give aid...now, Xavier is the first private sector to donate land for the homeless,” Maria Ressa reports in Rappler.com. XU’s relocation area in Lumbia is only one of the seven proposed permanent shelter sites
identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The other six are located in Calaanan, Indahag, Balulang, Camamanan, Taguanao and a 50-hectare lot in the municipality of Villanueva.
30 25 20
3 HOUR RAIN (mm)
35 3 hour accumulated rainfall in Xavier University 15-17 December 2011
5 8 PM
In Calaanan, the 13.5-hectare resettlement area has been named the “Tent City”, after the many white tents that sprouted in the area currently being used by some victims. The city government is now fast tracking the building of 2,500 row houses in the area to permanently relocate them. According to City Engineer Mario Batar, each 21-squaremeter row house complete with restroom and insulation can accommodate five families. In Indahag, the settlers will have to pay 50 cents to acquire the land. “Unlike the permanent relocation site in Sitio Calaanan, Barangay Canitoan which is given for free, beneficiaries at the Indahag property will be given a lot under the 50-50 cents program of Mayor Emano,” says City Councilor Alexander Dacer in an interview with Sun Star Cagayan de Oro. An empty office Allegations of negligence were flying high when the highest governing official of the land was reportedly absent during the first few days of the aftermath of ‘Sendong’. Relief operations and rescue efforts were headed by the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro with the help of private groups when it should have been the city government per official order. Among the first to respond were individual rescue efforts from civilians with boats, and river rafters like Bugsay. Survivors themselves helped rescue other survivors, as in the case of Roque and his fellow survivor from Macasandig. Cries of outrage against the mayor and other local officials further rose when the unidentified dead bodies were brought to the Zayas landfill to cover the stink. The mayor
ACCUMULATED RAIN (mm)
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 5 AM
FRANK ONDOY “FENGSHEN” “KETSANA”
AFFECTED POPULATION Families Evacuation Centers Barangays
TS Sendong compared to previous storms that hit the Philippines
also drew irk when he thought of allowing flood victims to return to Cala-cala and Isla de Oro, despite the geo-hazard risks present. What started as individual complaints on social networking sites became a collective cry when Facebook groups started planning for actions to be taken against the City Mayor and the other local officials. Facebook groups like Mata Na, CDO! and SAVE CDO have started on their undertakings, with their members staging daily protests at the Kiosko Kagawasan in Divisoria, and collecting thousands of signatures calling for a recall election that, if successful, would result to Emano stepping down from power. The sad reality, however, is that even if the people responsible for the deadly turn out of ‘Sendong’ are made accountable and even stripped of their power, it is but small comfort to those who lost family members and friends in the floods. There is still no bringing back the dead. So, what now? Revitalizing the city and ensuring that the tragedy does not occur once more is now a question poised primarily to the city government, although the same responsibility rests in every Kagay-anon. The bitter lesson that ought to be learned is the strengthening of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council and the strict reinforcement of environmental policing. Geohazard areas should be vacated and proper relocation programs should be implemented. An assessment of the city’s urban planning to keep it at par with global standards in neomodern urban living should also be undertaken. The flood warning systems that should have been installed three years ago following urgent recommendations must also be a top priority. The sense of complacency should be scrapped and warnings should not be taken lightly - the city is not hazard free.
Unless the city wants to experience yet another disaster with as much or more severity as ‘Sendong,’ concrete actions should be in order. According to Acosta, what is necessitated now is local knowledge, local capacity and local adaptation which can build resiliency in future hazards. Cagayan de Oro is not anymore invincible to typhoons and disasters. And as the city learns this lesson the hard way, we are still thankful for the heightened awareness that came out of it. For the coming together of people and organizations to deliver aid, we are thankful. Most of all, we are grateful for the survival of other flood victims who hurdled through the disaster and are slowly but surely rebuilding their lives. “Ang uban gali, sa tanan iyang pamilya, isa ra’y naluwas. Magpasalamat ko [kay] gibinlan ko’g asawa ug tulo ka anak,” says Roque who is trying to muster the strength to move forward. And just like him, we hope to get back on our feet, move ahead and ensure the mitigation of the thief of the night that was Sendong.C Sources: Logging, mining, floods and drought. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/346046/loggingmining-floods-and-droughts Archbishop’s pastoral letter: http://www.mindanews.com/mindaviews/2011/12/25/ pastoral-letter-a-time-to-grieve-a-time-to-build/ We had been warned of Cagayan River’s fury by Antonio Montalvan II. http:// newsinfo.inquirer.net/116425/we-had-been-warned-of-cagayan-rivers-fury Lumbia relocation http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2012/01/04/red-cross-buildhouses-lumbia-relocation-site-198709 Calaanan relocation http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2012/01/09/city-fast-tracksdevelopment-relocation-site-199704 Indahag relocation http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2012/01/12/indahag-lot-setrelocation-site-200094 http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2012/01/04/councilor-nottime-pointing-fingers-198713 http://www.sendong-aid.com.ph City fast-tracks development of relocation site http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2012/01/09/city-fast-tracksdevelopment-relocation-site-199704 Emano: Relocating residents a problem http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2011/12/21/mayorrelocating-residents-problem-196954 Special thanks to: Dexter Lo of XU-Engineering Resource Center Nestor Banuag of KKP-SIO Lea Punongbayan - Delarosa of UAP
n 2011, the people took to the streets as nature took back what once was hers. It was a year of disasters and democracy, of deluge and dethronement. Lives were lost in nature’s rampage, but lives were saved by the people’s hands. Relive the moments that made headlines and history in the year that was.
UNITED STATES Occupy Wall Street started in Zuccotti Park as a protest of the “greed and corruption” in Wall Street, America’s financial hub and home of the top-earners in the country. The concept sparked similar undertakings in other parts of the US and the world.
LIBYA Right at the heels of Egypt’s success, Libya started its own move to end the 42-year dictatorship imposed by Gaddafi.Muammar Gaddafi’s reign started in a bloody revolution, and ended in the same way.
SPAIN Europe stirs as the Los Indignados Movement called on 58 Spanish cities to rise up and protest the high unemployment rate in Spain.
AUSTRALIA Several parts of Queensland were deluged by floodwaters as the strongest La Niña since the 1970s caused heavy rainfall. The floods, which lasted for two months, affected 200,000 people. It was followed by heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding in the state of Victoria.
YEMEN An uprising in Yemen was sustained for almost a year until Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemeni president for 33 years, agreed to transfer power to his vice-president.
EAST AFRICA The region, composing mainly of Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia, is experiencing its worst drought in years, with 13 million people under jeopardy when two consecutive rainy seasons failed to arrive.
BRAZIL In a wet start to 2011, Rio de Janeiro was hit by a 24-hour deluge that brought about mudslides and floods all over several municipalities. In what was deemed the worst weather-related disaster in Brazilian history, over 800 lives were lost.
UNITED KINGDOM Resentment—of the rampant unemployment, racial discrimination, and wealth gap—was thought to have fueled the riots in Britain’s districts. What started out as a peaceful march to protest the death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan turned into anarchy as protestors looted homes and businesses.
NEW ZEALAND On February, Christchurch, NZ experienced a damaging magnitude 6.3 earthquake. While seismologists considered merely an aftershock of a previous quake, it was the second deadliest natural disaster in NZ, with 181 dead and widespread damages to property.
BAHRAIN Protests against the al-Khalifa dynasty’s rule started on the 14th of February, and continues up to today. The monarchy responded with promises and tear gas. EGYPT The Egyptians rallied in Tahrir Square on Jan. 25 to begin an 18-day protest culminating in Hosni Mubarak’s ouster from power after almost 30 years.
SYRIA A 48-year state of emergency is under fire in Syria, where ongoing protests against President Bashar AlAssad is met with brutal crackdowns that have resulted to at least 5,000 deaths, all swept under the rug by the government.
Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
TUNISIA This little country in between Algeria and Libya is where it all began, when vendor Mohamed Bouaziziset himself on fire, becoming the single spark that forever changed the Arab World. He became the catalyst of Tunisia’s protest to overthrow Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 23-year regime.
RUSSIA The people protested the results of the December parliamentary elections, calling Vladimir Putin’s party “crooks and thieves” in committing electoral fraud. The rallies in Moscow were the first stirrings of unrest shown by the Communist country in decades.
GREECE Thousands of protestors stormed Athens to protest the government’s plans for the crumbling Greek economy. While the demonstration started in 2010, it gained momentum in 2011, resulting to changes in government policy.
JAPAN March 11 was a deadly day for Japan, when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the Sendai prefecture and caused a tsunami that claimed the lives of 20,000 Japanese citizens.
PHILIPPINES Several storms brought destruction to the country’s many islands, resulting to lives and properties lost. Earthquakes and landslides also wrought havoc in the country.
THAILAND Some pvarts of the country were swamped for almost three months when monsoon rains caused severe flooding. The floods, which started in late July and restarted in mid-October, disrupted the lives of an estimated 2.5 million people when the waters did not subside months after.
In 2011, “revolution” and “disaster” are some of the most common words you hear in connection to international news. One by one, dictators who have kept their power for decades begin to lose their grip before finally giving way to the call of the multitude. In the same way, climate change makes itself known by bringing destruction to continentsby water, fire, and earth. It is a changing world, one where old ideals and solutions no longer hold true. We are called to rise above passivity by using our voices to shape our future. 2011 shows that the people have been awakened—to democracy, to climate change, to a new era in the history of the world. The world is trembling with the footfalls of change. Will you join the rise of the masses?C Crusader
Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
et me tell you about Yuan. He is a small, stout tutee in my LTS area work. In the Balulang National Elementary School grounds, he would sit by himself and would only talk to me when he needed to. He loves Billionaire by Bruno. His small, Asian eyes make him look just like the little kid in Up.He is intelligent in Mathematics. He once drew me on his Grade 2 pad paper and gave it to me after class. He would ask me to accompany him during recess to the store nearby and he would buy a milk bar for himself. My classmates wanted him to be their tutee. I do not know if he is still alive. Don’t try to figure out who his tutor is because you might figure out who I am.My name is not relevant. In a sea of volunteers during the Sendong relief operation, it is not your name or the ID that carries it that defines who you are. It’s what you do. For another. I was there on the 17th, when our world was suddenly in chaos and nobody could tell you what
exactly happened because they did not know how. I was there when Xavier sheltered its community. I saw them come in in increasingly huge families, dragging with them their belongings, or whatever is left of it. Under the rapidly depressing circumstances, it would hurt in that spot where feelings collide,to tell some of these people to seek refuge in another evacuation center. I was there when we called student and staff survivors and listen to them sob and cry and plead. A lot of them would altruistically say their neighbors needed the relief goods more than they did. We would listen to them thank us when we got to their homes or relief areas and we would smile back and think it was enough. It wasn’t. I don’t know where Yuan is. Or if he was the kid who rode a pig to survive. He might be out there, homeless, naked, hungry, or worse— I was named after a saint and the name meant freedom. But a name could not matter any less
that time. If Yuan were named something else, it still would not matter to you. It was the number of lives you tried to save, regardless of what they were called by their families or friends. It was the people you gave food or clothes or water to, even if you did not know them. It was the children who could not longer know the difference between an evacuation center and home. They don’t need names. So long as it was a soul and its life, it did not matter what he or she was called. I will not listen to you if you blame another because he sucked at his job or he was out there partying when the flood swallowed our neighbors’ lives.I will not listen to you if all you have to say iswe deserve a better mayor or a better president. I mean, what did you do? It takes a tragedy to get us out of bed. Although the year ended in devastation, this one will begin with hope. And if hope were more than an intangible idea, it’s you.C
Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
y first thought when I woke up was “Did my Siberian Husky wet the bed?”, because it sure smelled and felt like it. Then I remembered: I didn’t have a Siberian Husky. Then I heard screaming from the outside. “Ang TV isaka! Ang TV isaka!” They were our neighbors’ voices, and they were getting desperate. The lights wouldn’t turn on. Looks like the Mayans predicted the end of the world one year late. I grabbed the two most important things in my life: my journal and my teddy bear Grinch. Already the water was up to my chin. Amazingly, I was able to break my window in one punch. “Must climb to higher ground,” I told myself. I tried not to think about the rats in my basement or my months’ worth of research papers due in January floating somewhere in my living room. I forced myself to stop listening to the cries of the people around me and concentrated on reaching my roof. It didn’t matter that random things kept bumping into me: logs, cats, and that red Ferrari I’ve always coveted. Three seconds. That was all it took for the current to wipe out my rooftop and me (Mom and Dad are so going to kill me when they get back), and I didn’t even make it to the top. Down I went. Like a tomato in a very sick salad, I was tossed, turned and shredded. The water tasted something like a rat would cook (sorry, Ratatouille) and I probably drank five gallons of it. Every time I clambered towards the surface to get some air, some random debris would push me back down. I actually thought I was good as dead. I figured maybe it wasn’t so bad. On the plus side, at least I didn’t have to deal with the consequences of that killer exam I took earlier that day. Maybe I was ready for heaven. But heaven wasn’t ready for Cora just yet. Grinch got himself stuck on the branch of a tree gliding along the gushing surface and dragged me along with him. So we cruised through the rapids and passed the most unbelievable things: a kid riding a pig, a baby in a bucket and a whole family rafting on a refrigerator. Unbelievable but true. I wish I had a camera. But of course I was too busy with the whole “trying-to-keep-myself-fromdrowning” thing.
The most difficult part of the journey was the ride through the bridges. It looked like a whirlpool underneath the Golden Mile Bridge, sucking everything down. By some miracle, our tree crashed on the side of the bridge catapulting Grinch, my journal and I in the air. Overhead I even saw what looked like rescuers just looking down on the other people caught underneath the bridge. How they could stand just looking at those poor people without even throwing them a life jacket, I hope I’ll never find out. I landed face flat on the ground. I thought I heard my bones crack. Where I was, it didn’t matter. The water around me wasn’t threatening anymore. I could feel people rushing towards me. I only thought of one thing before I completely passed out: how am I supposed to rewrite my research paper now? *** The reek. That’s what I remember first, when consciousness came crawling back to me, like guilty sanity seeping in after a long, crazy night. The smell was horrible, and I was pretty sure this time that my Siberian Husky hadn’t wet the bed. (Not that I had one, anyway.) So what had happened last night? I don’t remember how I got on that tree. I’m not even sure it was an uprooted tree I had been clutching, although if it had turned out to be a confused, flood-swept crocodile, I guess I owed the creature a tip of the hat for the ride. (I lost my glasses in all of last night’s craziness, so it’s probably not a long shot.) The next couple of days were a blur. (Literally.) I got to live in the XU Covered Courts for a while, and I thought that was pretty cool, minus the previous trauma and the whole “not-having-a-house” thing (Mom and Dad are really going to throw a fit). Slowly, we heard the body count go up and up: 200, 300…up to a thousand. And while we struggled with not getting to brush our teeth every morning, there were some things to keep us distracted. For instance, the absolute best part of it all was the politics. Everyone was mad at the president for not visiting the victims. And the mayor allegedly gambled before thinking
he probably had to care a bit for the city. It was quite entertaining, actually. Better than Facebook. But no, I understood. The president probably didn’t have a good reason to come over. It’s not like he has all forms of transportation at his convenience, with the resources to give immediate relief to those who needed it. I mean, it’s not like he has better things to do—like making plans about making plans of visiting Cagayan de Oro. Maybe he wanted to actually be useful when he came over, and if the president of the country himself thinks he can’t be useful to the people in a crisis—well, then—who are we to say? He probably didn’t have a decent pair of boots! And what’s a president without a good pair of boots, right? Smile for the cameras, Mr. President. At least you sent Kris over for a pit stop before her big party. She was a real delight. Oh, and I totally get the mayor. While others blamed the city government for not doing a thing to coordinate relief operations, my theory is he was waiting for the divine hand of God to fix everything that had happened. And I was right! An archbishop answered the call and did exactly what the mayor should have done. Disasters really do have the ability to bring people together. In fact, it made the church do the government a favour by performing its responsibility to the people! I also got to meet a lot of interesting people. When we weren’t comparing notes on the different flavors of flood water, we got to know each other; people from all walks of life who had lost so much. I mean, I knew I was going to be alright, eventually. The bad thing was that I wasn’t so sure about everybody else. That thought usually kept me up at night. Sometimes I slipped out in the late evenings to watch the Christmas lights along the Commerce building, in nothing but house clothes that were not mine and slippers that were two sizes too big for me. Sometimes I stayed up until morning, when the chapel would fill with singing from the misa de gallo. Maybe, in all of this, there was a lesson somewhere. Maybe my death cruise down the river counted for something. It strengthened my hope that somehow—sooner, or later— things would fall into place. C
know I haven’t been real nice lately. I had to experience Sendong first hand so that he could just really send the message to me directly. I’ve done nothing but write mean stuff about people. Although I know that you know that these people deserve to get a wake-up call from someone somehow. I’ve got Contrabida as my last name and job description, for crying out loud. But I guess karma and Sendong are just really good friends. So, I’ve been busy the whole year round and I think should get straight to following this stupid tradition of making new year’s resolutions. Like we need an excuse to change our rotten ways. Isn’t having rotten ways reason enough to change? No. We definitely have to wait for a new year and make it The Excuse. 1. I resolve to protest the idea of reporting. I paid her—not my classmates—to teach me. If I wanted another student to teach me, I’d have logged into YouTube. There are things in life you can’t understand without the help of a professional and it’s not like my classmates earned a degree of anything yet--which leads me to the next resolution… 2. I resolve to force my classmates to put more effort in their reports. If my teacher thinks it would make us smarter to talk in front of the class with cool power point presentations to show off, I can deal with that. What I can’t deal with is the fact that my classmates would simply recite everything in the book WORD FOR WORD. With all the droning voices and nervous stutters, can you blame me for
daydreaming during class hours? Oh look, a kitten! 3. LCD screens all around the campus. So maybe this one’s not for me. See how kind I am? I even made a resolution for the big guys (a.k.a. The Administration)! You’re welcome! Partly because I think it’s more environment-friendly to see events advertised on a flat screen rather than tarpaulins (to compensate my being mean, I’ve secretly gone green). Partly also because I heard Ateneo de Manila has one. Besides, there’s something about moving pictures that make students want to actually participate. Simpletons. 5. I resolve to be a hero. Where’s my cape? Or just to have super powers, at least. Okay, I know this is a long shot but I really, really, really want to talk to machines. Do water fountains only work for people they like? Are the ID scanning machines at the gates going through something in their life that sometimes, it takes time for them to work? And most especially, are toilets having a good laugh when they won’t let us flush on purpose? Don’t worry citizens of Townsville—I mean, Xavier (yeah, I watch too much cartoons)—Cora Contrabida is here to save the day! Just as soon as I get those powers on the works. 6. I resolve to find out why the StC 3rd floor bathroom is ALWAYS locked. Or better yet, find a copy of the
Vol. 38 No. 8 January 2012
key to that annoying bathroom. I just love how clean that bathroom is. Heavy sarcasm. But do you know how much humiliation I have to endure after walking real fast only to find the bathrooms are all off limits and I really need to go so bad that I have to slip inside the boy’s bathroom like a ninja? Well do you know how worse it feels to get out of the stall only to find a dude is peeing in a urinal and you try to get out of the bathroom like a ninja but he still sees you anyway? Good times, good times. 7. I resolve to act my age. We need a new Black Plague. There are too many people in this world. I’m not into population control. I just don’t like people. Not people in general but people who I can’t stand. All you have to do is walk into an elevator or in a bathroom stall and you see hideous writings on the poor walls. SEX SEX SEX. Drawings of penises. Toilet gossip. Really?! Don’t you just sometimes wanna shake some of the students here and say, ‘’Come on, man. You’re better than that!’’ I can certainly draw better than that. 8. I resolve to give our security guards some counseling. The security guards are so random. And that’s sugar-coating it. I don’t know, but they might have problems of their own that they can’t do their job properly. Sometimes they’re just abusive and inconsistent. I have a friend (just pretend you believe I’m not referring to myself). She has PE. After the
torment of sports, she changes to her extra shirt. And she wore this shirt several times before and she got in campus. But now, they wouldn’t let her in. They took her ID this time, even after she reasoned out that the guard before her let her in. Even after she explained that she got in wearing this shirt before. And the guard was all like, ‘’There’s a new rule.’’ Well I --I meant my friend didn’t know about these new magic rules! What good are rules if you’re the only one who knows about them? Oh and not to mention, that same friend wasn’t let in on Xavier Days either because she was wearing shorts when several other people were strutting their stuff in shorts that same night. Inconsistent and abusive. See what I mean? Okay, so maybe not all my resolutions are completely for my own betterment (which is supposedly the point of these things). But who else is going to resolve these petty things within my school? And you can’t blame me for complaining again and again about these silly things even at a time like this. Aren’t you tired of hearing complains about Emano? I know I am, and I complained too. Overrated much? Let’s just put it this way: I guess Sendong just can’t beat the Contrabida out of Cora. Sorry to disappoint.C
THESE STATEMENTS WERE OVERHEARD FROM PEOPLE AROUND THE CAMPUS, SOME WERE REPHRASED FOR PURPOSE OF CLARITY AND BREVITY.
IPASA ANG POTOKAPI SA ANSWER SA AMONG OPISINA SA STC 302, PANGITAA ANG MGA GWAPA UG GWAPO NA CRU DADTO. KUNG MAKAKITA KAG PANGIT, NA BASIN NAWALA NAKA!! GOOD LUCK!! SA KALISOD SA KURISWORD, DAGHAN KAAYO NAG PASA, DUHA RA SILA.ATONG PAKPAKAN SILANG ANTOINETTE MAY C. BIRONDO & MANJA AGUSTINES. CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Published on Jan 23, 2012