The Scary Week That Was

JULY 2018 may still be just be at its halfway toll, but is fast turning out to be a most disastrous month ever, globally and locally. With bated breath, the world watched, and rejoiced, when 12 Thai soccer-playing kids, aged 12 – 16, were finally extricated along with their coach from their sordid ordeal down there inside a perilous cavernous network.

For days on end, everyone stayed glued on their television screens, cuing up on the latest challenges rescuers from various nationalities were facing, as the clock continued to tick by. When word finally came that all trapped victims were eventually extracted, on stretchers, the world erupted in a yell-out cheer. It was a victory cheer for humanity, something that anyone discovered to be in rich galore. It was a tragedy turned into a thrilling triumph by the heroic efforts of everyone bonded in a shared brotherhood. It’s simply called Mankind at work in tandem with one another.

Yet, the dramatic rescue effort, planned for days due to the intricate work involved, began to diminish in global impact as another Asian country continued to be thrust into an unfolding tragedy unparalleled in recent times. Continuous relentless rains were dumping and causing floodwaters a building high. As of now, over 200 lives have been lost in southern Japan, while scores were still missing and unaccounted for. The devastation was simply astonishing, with cars and everything of substantial weight were carried through the rampaging waters.

Thanks God for huge mercies, we were spared of these natural aberrations. Super storm Gardo/Maria threatened much of Luzon at week’s start, but on a north, northwesterly course, the weather system pummeled Taiwan and southern China instead. The storm’s forecast strength, at over 200 kph in gustiness, put off school classes in areas where Habagat-induced rains would put school kids in harm’s way. Gratefully, by this time, no major weather disturbance is anywhere near the country. For now, anyway.

One thing stands out in clear, unmistakable terms: the world knows how to act in concert when anyone is suddenly thrust in an unknown peril. Globally, we pull in as one and do the heroic sharing deed, regardless of affinity, creed, or circumstance, as demonstrated in the daring rescue of the hapless Thai kids. We act together, because we know that when tragedy occurs, it knows no rules to abide by, no traditions to respect. It just happens. Just like the weather and the changing climes.

Disasters caused by fast-changing climes simply happen, regardless of time, place and circumstance. And when it does, as it did, it merely provides a grim contrast to the years when Mankind has been on a merry-making mood with activities that have wreaked havoc on the world’s ecosystem, enough to make nature behave the way it does.

Several issues cry out for retribution. Clearly, government safety regulations are not being followed to the letter. Clearly, disaster-mitigating officials should always be alert-conscious, swift enough to give due notice, to issue timely warning alerts, to put people in danger zones out of harm’s way. Else, people become needless victims simply because they go about their usual ways in living their downtrodden life, heedless of any coming storm, and more concerned in squeezing in a day’s earning to close the day.

Surely, there are lessons of life that could have been deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of everyone. Surely, disasters become lesser of a risk when what must be done — and these are by the book — are sternly followed, when everyone mandated by a sense of responsibility does his job the best way it can be done. Grief and anguish over the painful tragedies may salve in time, justice may be served in the end, but if we keep on repeating wayward deeds that result in costly loss, then lessons have not been responsibly learned from one set of tragedy to another.

For us here in Baguio, the recent tragedies should spur us, leaders and constituents alike, to take stock of what we are in the national life, lest these misfortunes take place, and they certainly will unless proactive measures are made. Landslides and flashfloods are natural after-effects of a passing storm, happenstances that can be mitigated when prepared for. Road mishaps occurring along mountain highways are a dime a dozen in a year, given the dilapidated, worn-out motor vehicles that are allowed to ply our road networks that are everything but being smart, and our road builders are everything that being smart is all about.

The saga of the rescued Thai kids tells us how to do things the right way when all that matters is doing the right thing, even as time continues to tick its scary moments. After all, life is all about challenges that need to be faced with courage, competence, and compassion for others.

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