Most of us here in the province of Eastern Samar will readily agree, if only it’s possible, to share a great bulk of pure unadulterated water we keep receiving from heaven since the first rays of 2011 appeared in our skies. Anyone interested? Please call St. Peter’s office immediately. Or visit the pertinent website at we.share.heavenly.water.net. Of course, there had been respites from the rains (and we are very grateful to the Almighty for them), including sunny January celebrations of the Feasts of the Nazarene and the Sto. Niño (the latter only partly). Our processions (at least in my parish of the Assumption of Our Lady) were a showcase of one miracle—absolutely dry sunny weather. Which prompted one parishioner to say, “Gosh, the Lord doesn’t like being wet in his parade!” But those respites were extremely short.
The rains have come back with a vengeance and, as I write, they have even enlisted the company of strong winds that blow hard and howl mockingly over roofs and windows of nipa, wooden and concrete houses alike, in an almost rare display of impartiality. But all this talk of the rains being fair to everyone is just that—talk. Actually fairness is never a virtue of Mother Nature. She merely gives back, sometimes in a greater measure, what we humans do to her. Because we have polluted our land, air and water, destroyed our forests and trapped the sun’s heat through our greenhouse gas emissions, the melting glaciers have now become hordes and hordes of attacking liquid armies that have nowhere to go but down on our homes, farms, rivers, seas and mountains. And, like uninvited rouge guests, they love creating havoc, such as mudslides and—from Brazil to Australia, from Albay to Eastern Samar, from St. Bernard to Agusan—good old-fashioned flooding. Like mini replicas of Noah’s scourge, flooding in our era distinguish neither rich nor poor, developed nor developing (a euphemism for undeveloped really) countries or communities. Who would have thought that Queensland, Australia would have worse flooding that, say, Can-avid in Eastern Samar? But then again people of Can-avid could say, “They are only worse off because people are not used to seeing richer communities suffering the fate commonly tied to poorer communities such as ours—flooding.”
Still it is not uncommon for people to adopt explanations for their fate other than from science. For instance, some people in my province say, “We have been flooded because we have a government that cares little about our welfare. Floods have made it clear how bad our roads and services have become, including how bad some of our choices for leadership positions are….” Flooding from bad governance? Undoubtedly there’s a point in that. One only has to bear in mind how bad governance in Eastern Samar or in the whole country for that matter has allowed illegal logging, mining (which has been anything but responsible in our islands), unmitigated quarrying, improper disposal of solid waste and many other offenses against the environment and Mother Nature. If love is paid by love, what do we expect Mother Nature to reward us for our irresponsibility and greed?
But all is not lost. This is what sets us apart from the cynics. It has become clearer too that people working together can make a difference. The media must be thanked for showing realities that rarely get the attention of the nation, let alone of the authorities that make far-reaching decisions and actions. Some government officials ought to be cited for seeing beyond the ravages of nature into their man-made causes and even now for trying to find long-lasting solutions, not merely temporary relief operations done ostensibly to score media mileage (or, as they say, ‘pa pogi points’). Most of all, we need to also cite the affected communities themselves that did not wait for outside help because they have decided to extend it to one another, who until now are picking up the pieces of what’s left of their homes, properties, families and lives, minding that others could be worse off than they are. I know even of some parish communities, even when they themselves suffered the ravages of flooding, that have nonetheless contributed money, clothing and food to other communities hit just as hard. In many cases it hasn’t been a matter of the comfortable aiding the afflicted but of the afflicted taking care of their fellow afflicted.
By instinct a number of people see the wisdom of Pope Boniface VIII who once said, “Anything done for another is done for oneself.” Which, I suppose is the reason why St. Vincent de Paul could exclaim: “Love is infinitely inventive.” Let’s pray and work hard that love such as this thrive in our long-suffering archipelago.