WE HAVE wished today’s a good time as any to be glad, but it just couldn’t be. Today is when Ompong gets to exit out, and going by the grim forecasts these past days, the awesome numbers have not been reassuring enough. The fact is, while this is being written up on a Friday, the latest word from those in the know is gear up for the worst, while bracing up for the best there is.
Our part of the world is right where Ompong have slashed us through, dumping close to 400 mm of rain whipped up by a 245 kph that’s just about proximate to what it was in Ondoy’s time. No, it may not have been the ferocious kind that Yolanda has been, but scary just the same. No, it may not have been of deluvian kind, but going by the fearless forecasts given us round-the-clock, it must have torn through, lashing the coastlines like no other, rampaging across the Cordillera mountain ranges, unleashing fragile mountain soil in deadly descent.
We can only wish the damage had not been catastrophic, but by now, we should be feeling Ompong’s overall brunt. Narratives of plain survival would have inundated just as much as floodwaters in vulnerable land masses must have obliterated everything on the lethal path. Narratives of extraordinary resilience would have noticeably gained enough traction to bring out the best and even the worst in us. For the ordinary in us, it really takes something much of an extraordinary happenstance to do things very much Filipino in us, being helpful beyond measure, being a bayan when the situation calls for it, not because everyone’s watching, but simply because it’s the right thing to do, without anyone having to be on the watch.
We can only wish the casualty roster isn’t so bad, given the nearly weeklong preparation to get everyone on the same page of readiness, given how even PRRD himself had to ignore Sonny to give Ompong the greater comeuppance, given how local officials were even in a seeming competition to be ahead in calling school and work activities off, given how the media outlets have practically used up the airwaves to besiege us a round-the-clock update of the latest there is.
If the casualty ranks are on the downside, it can only mean that lessons on Disaster 101 have been well learned and well heeded. If property losses have been on the southern side, then indeed we have been well ahead in contending with the onrushing onslaught, prepping up where most needed, responding well when most required. Best of all, it can only mean that we as a people have become more exceptionally geared up, such that when the going gets tough, all it takes is for the toughest in us to get going.
Lest we forget, Ompong was only a lesson to be heeded as the year’s worst weather disturbance this side of the world. By and large, it merely represents a series of now normal imbalances sweeping across the globe in the last few years, indicating that the world is fast turning into a hothouse burning up the global atmosphere to make our seas rise up in levels unparalleled in recent memory, enough to ignite geologic pressures unlike any other to generate killer earthquakes and super storms happening in fiercer, mightier circumstance, regardless of where and when.
Lest we forget, nature’s challenges remain as daunting and fearsome, enough to make us mindful of things to be doing as time continues to menacingly tick by. First and foremost, for all of us to collectively striving in mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions we’ve been relentlessly ejecting into the atmosphere since way, way back. Second, and just as foremost, for us to remain firmly time on target, committed in achieving a below 2 degrees Celsius as an unerring, well calculated global temperature goal.
Lest we forget, we are the collective cause of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions largely from coal-fueled economic activities. Sea levels are rising, threatening to erode islands and coastal areas, including the Philippines which now ranks among the most vulnerable in the world. Subtropical deserts are expanding. Arctic glaciers are beginning to melt down and ultimately disappear. Extreme weather events have become the new normal — heat wave, droughts, heavy rainfall with floods, heavy snowfall, killer-quakes whose strength and intensity have been suddenly on the rise.
If we just coast along, while disturbances like Ompong rampage through our life, we’re just readying ourselves for the worse there is, because Ompong isn’t simply there worse there is. More are coming our way. Coasting along just wouldn’t work any longer to keep the casualty ranks thankfully low, the damage to property gratefully down.
At day’s end, we may not even be around when time has run us all out, when the end of days is finally upon us.