Abusing the people’s tragedy

For a while now, I’ve been at loss as to what to blog. Scenes of devastation and the actual loss of life and property to millions of Filipinos were overwhelming. It didn’t feel right blogging about anything else where almost everything else will pale in gravity. Guilt perhaps, the very fact that I am able to blog in convenience indicates that, unlike majority of Filipinos who are poor, I am “unaffected.” For a while, blogging in the time of crisis reeked of insensitivity. Some people say blogging and online social media networks played a crucial role in the relief and rescue operations. I agree. But then again, the people who need the relief aren’t online, and prolonged online “involvement” seemed to me like a convenient excuse not to immerse with the people and get dirty with the actual operations. Posting and re-posting relief and rescue operations has to translate into actual relief and rescue operations. Many times, especially during the immediate days after the typhoons, they do, as proven by the thousands who flocked to organized relief operations. With an inept and inutile government, private citizens and civilian organizations needed to fill the vacuum in social services. But for how long? Especially when all those volunteers go back to their schools and to their workplaces?

During and after our relief operations, we still have to expose the ineptitude of the government and its causes. We, after all, pay taxes by force of law and thus maintain the system with almost every consumption we make. If the cost doesn’t translate to social services, especially in times of calamity, and worse, makes life more miserable for the masses, why maintain it? I’m posing that as a serious question. Even worse, calamities are often abused by the government and policy-makers to intensify the prevailing order by implementing unpopular and anti-people policies. Naomi Klen calls it the “Shock Doctrine” where government use “the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks ““ wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters – to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy.”

A few days ago, I attended a Congress committee hearing on what we all thought to be was a junked proposal to tax SMS messages. Without as much attention as the previous hearings, and with the public focused largely on the relief operations, pro-tax congressmen actually revived the proposal, and even had the gall to use the calamity to justify the additional tax. Other congressmen who opposed the tax tried to junk it altogether to no avail. When more and more observers and media were coming in the meeting, the leadership suddenly decided to suspend the hearing and re-convene in executive session some other time, without all the observers and the media, and the other congressmen who weren’t members of the committee.

Another thing I’d like to point out is the excessive media exposure of American troops in their relief missions. This assistance, I’m telling you is far from selfless. It is a motivated and concerted action to ‘win hearts and minds’. I’m willing to bet that all these will be used to justify the continued implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. It’s all a big public-relations stunt. I’m not discounting the help they have probably extended. Yes, thank you, but it’s not worth our sovereignty. These are but a few government policies that are being rammed into implementation at the wake of the people’s tragedy. There will be more.

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Tulong Kabataan is continuing its relief operations for the victims of tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng. We’re going to have a Balik Eskwela drive where we would do campus clean-ups and other intensified youth volunteer work to mark resumption of classes in storm and flood hit areas. Click here for more details.

Tulong Kabataan: More help needed by Typhoon Ondoy victims

Students are encouraged to participate in the concerted effort to help victims of typhoon Ondoy. They may drop off their material donations at their respective student council’s offices. Many of the universities and schools are conducting their own donation drives. In UP Diliman, for example, the centralized relief operations is at the Church of the Risen Lord, near the UP Chapel and the Shopping Center.

On Friday and Saturday, October 2-3, there will be a centralized collection of all relief goods at the Headquarters of Kabataan Partylist at 118-B Scout Rallos St., Quezon City (near Timog Avenue and EDSA). We will be needing volunteers in the sorting and the re-packing of the supplies.

On Sunday, we shall be distributing the first batch of material assistance to several communities hit hard by the deluge. Assistance from youth groups and individuals is most welcome. You can contact me through this blog, and leave your contact number so we can keep in touch with you.

Also, here is an update on the fund drive being conducted by TxtPower. In a span of 24 hours, from 3:25 PM of September 27 to 3:25 PM of September 28, TXTPower received almost P500,000.00 for a grand total of P581,436.89.

As soon as these amounts are credited to the bank account, TxtPower will immediately turn them over to the Philippine National Red Cross in the form of manager’s checks. They will make the donation for and in behalf of all the donors who contributed via Paypal, SmartMoney and GCash. You may continue contributing to the fund drive by donating through Paypal here. Let us keep this up, friends!

Tulong Kabataan: Help victims of Typhoon Ondoy, donations & volunteers needed

Filipinos now need all the help they can get, especially those hit hardest by rampaging tropical storm Ondoy (international code name Ketsana).

The storm made landfall yesterday in Luzon, bringing endless rains and spawning huge floods in Metro Manila and many parts of Luzon.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are now homeless and an hundreds are feared dead. News of two more storms in the next weeks does not bode well. TXTPower and Kabataan Partylist urges its members, supporters and friends abroad to make donations via Paypal.

You may also donate via SmartMoney (5577-5144-1866-7103) or GCash 09266677163 or 0917-9751092. All donations coursed through the hotlines will be sent to the Philippine National Red Cross. You may start donating by clicking here.

Donations can also be sent to Kabataan Partylist Headquarters, 118-B Sct. Rallos QC.

For more information please contact 0926-6677163 or kabataanpartylist@gmail.com. Volunteers are also welcome. Series of disaster relief activities will be held during the following weeks. Please leave a comment if you’re willing to help in any way.

National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) led the way and is now calling on all student councils to help with the relief drive. For UP Diliman students, you may drop off your donations and other supplies at the University Student Council office in Vinzons Hall. For UP Manila students, you may bring them to the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council office.

[photo above courtesy of Reuters]

Guimaras oil spill

Most of us in the Philippines have probably heard of the Guimaras oil spill from the news. For a small island whose people’s livelihood relies much on the sea, this catastrophe is really devastating. And it will get worse. Much of the 2 MILLION liters of oil still lie within the sunken ship.

I was searching and bloghopping for news and other information on how to help, and I came across Project Sunshine Sunrise. The website appears to have been set up by the provincial government of Guimaras to disseminate information regarding the disaster and how people can help.

Unfortunately (for a student like me), much of the help they need apparently consist of financial donations and logistical help. So, what to do? Talk about it and blog about it. The more people know, the less it will be sidelined. I also read somewhere that a hair salon chain would be donating hair to the clean-up effort.

Yes, I’ve heard of this before, human hair being effective material for oil slick absorption. Well, I think it’s time for me to get a haircut. This, aside from boycotting Petron to give them a lesson for murdering the livelihood of our Guimaras folk.

Tragedies

Close to a hundred thousand are left homeless in the landslides that struck Southern Leyte. Close to two hundred dead people have been recovered from the mud. Also, over seventy people are feared dead as a ferry disappeared in the seas of Palawan. Heavy rains continue to pour into central Philippines. Tragedies here and there! Today, FPJ formally accepts his nomination as the “united” opposition’s standard bearer. Another tragedy or indicative of something more tragic to come, I’d hate to presume. (It’s silly, I know, but who knows?)