STAYING ALIVE IN AN INCOMPETENT ENVIRONMENT
I am a resident of Quezon City and my house is situated near La Mesa Dam. As a child, every summer, I would hear regular complaints that the dam is nearing its critical low level and that should the water level recede further, there is danger of deficiency in the supply of potable water for several towns. This however would go on for a specific period during the year. When its rainy season on the other hand, the same people complaining of low level of water, would have shifted their complaints on the other possibility. Their grievance would then be focused on monsoon rains. Given a day of continuous rain would literally overfeed the streams and tributaries rendering the dam almost bursting at the seams.
This helpless moaning from government functionaries in charge of public works would go on for years on end, annually as a matter of fact. An instance for want and in another of surfeit. Years on end, I would hear the same explanation, the same grumble all over again.
I am now in my twilight years and the same gripe predominant airwaves on the matter of drought and floods. It is as if I lived in a time frozen by inaction, stalled by ignorance and yes, disabled for competence. Government seemed contented to employ manpower just for the heck and not for the work, just for the nonce and not for the performance.
While most countries in Southeast Asia have already addressed a simple solution to such simple problem, in this country it is as if the people are cursed to live with incompetency. Some countries, like neighbouring Malaysia have impounded monsoon rains to their advantage. Instead of wailing for the excess water nature’s fury has deposited on their shores, the government has built a multilayered infrastructure that can be used as express tunnel during dry season and an impounding water station for its nearby farms during rainy days. Now, that is competence.
Down south, there is an area which is always buffeted by rain. It is a geographical contour enclosed with mountain ranges and at the center is a strip of flat lands which are virtual pans on which trapped clouds would empty its evaporated water. Rain showers are abundant all year round. People in outlying locale would swear that there is already drought if no drizzle would happen in three days. Because of this natural situation, the vicinity for a time was a virtual waste land, as a matter of fact the only land visible land was no land at all except for the color since the area was made of up of pure mud, a swampland, the depth of which is chest deep. If there is agriculture to be introduced in the site, it could only be fit for a breeding ground of crocodiles and similar animals thriving in marshes.
When government issued a proclamation for people to use it and transform it into a communal farm, it was largely ignored until government deferred in offering the area further. Government was also mocked by the people for such preposterous offer. The area was left to its natural condition, as a stretch of estuary, unfit for agriculture. It would just remain as a “no man’s land” and remained as a penal facility.
With the entry of private entrepreneurs, the area became a template of world class farm, the biggest banana farm in the planet. The development not only contributed gross revenue to government, large scale employment in the region, the farm equally invited a host of shady characters egging government to distribute it to them in the name of land reform.
There are ways to improve the condition of the country. People should never resign in desperation, into fits of silence, plunging into the abyss of ineptitude. There is enough creativity that can transform environment if only maturity dawns on government service.
The previous generation had gone through so much. Mine has seen enough. The next might be the salvation.