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THE PHILIPPINES AFTER YOLANDA

superstorm

In Greek mythology, when Zeus and Poseidon agree to play on nature to remind the mortals on their foolishness, they merely swing around.  If both were in agreement to remind other gods that they should be reckoned for all time, they bring out the worst.  Zeus was a rain god, the god of the sky, of thunder and thunderbolt.  Storms were his expressions.  Poseidon, on the other hand, a full brother to Zeus, was a god of earthquakes and the sea represented as tempestuous, subject to sudden and violent rages and vindictive.  Both were guardians of climate, and well, of climate change too.

When climate is disturbed, their godly congress is suspect and their manifestation is a combination of nature’s fury.  The effect is devastation.  In Greek parlance, a superstorm is a form of Olympian anger directed at mankind and at other lesser gods.  But of course that was before when science was still in infancy.

To date, science is aided by technology, its advancement all the time is considered mind boggling already.  It could predict and even foresee the future, the evolutionary trends for which not only man but that of the entire universe is moving towards.

In the past, mankind is merely dependent on his gods for salvation.  If he perishes, he was not good enough.  If he survives, he was favored.

Those days are gone.

We have science and technology working for us.  It can help us endure and adapt.  Anything unusual can be anticipated except stupidity.  Calamities, its effects and deleterious outcome are limited only to those who choose to confront and challenge its might.  There is adventure; there is fun in the confrontation.  It is extreme sports.

And so when a superstorm was announced days before its landfall, people, especially those in typhoon belt, thought that they were about to see the same pattern—packing winds, sudden rain, flash floods, twigs flying and some landslides, the usual weather, a natural routine.  It was a similar scenario in the past as their ancestors have noted and it was merely for them like a simple tooth extraction—bloody and painful only for a while.  After all, they have been there in the place and they knew all the time that it was a play station for Zeus and Poseidon.

Indeed, there was a superstorm—a tropical cyclone, the 30th in the 2013 pacific typhoon season.  It is internationally called Haiyan, it is Yolanda in the Philippines.  Its arrival on the shores of central Philippines has been announced.  The Voice of America was in every radio station revealing a satellite feed.  Accordingly, it was formed in November 2, 2013 as an area of low pressure several hundred kilometers east-southeast of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia.  The next day, it would become a tropical depression.

Days after, the storm’s maximum ten-minute sustained winds would increase and it has been noted that it has breached the velocity in relation to an extra ordinary cyclone.  Japan, HongKong and China meteorological observatories were stunned at what they were tracking.  It was a monstrous category 5 super typhoon and it was headed for its landfall in the middle islands of the Philippines packing a 315 km/h sustained wind, the fourth strongest, if not the strongest, typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed.  It can sweep anything immovable along its path.

As it landed in the province of Leyte, one of the Visayan islands, it was noted that it was the country’s strongest storm recorded at landfall.  It surpassed the record 305 km/h previously experienced sometime in 1931 which claimed some 15,000 lives.

As the storm ravaged several islands, as it swished through five consecutive landfalls in the country before emerging over to the West Philippine Sea onwards to Vietnam, if left, according to UN, about 11 million people affected, thousands of family rendered out and left homeless and around 5,665 confirmed deaths a few days later.

Preliminary estimate on the total cost of damage was placed at $1.55 Billion (USD) or P40 Billion, almost the same cost lost in government in a year’s time as a consequence of corruption.

What Yolanda did for Leyte, corruption did the same to national coffers.  In this season of calamity, the Filipinos would suffer back to back losses.

National psyche is strong however.  It can weather any agonizing moment through.  CNN’s Anderson Cooper observed that he saw devastation up -close, the worst kind in one community in Leyte and surprisingly noticed that people in the area were smiling as if having fun.  Filipinos are used to such pain.

Surely they would have their fill and fun is greater once the corrupt sector is also executed!

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AGE IS CATCHING UP

old man

In the olden times, Saturn was considered one of the most active divinities associated with agriculture and a cult was even founded ascribing to him as a guardian god.  His influence led to the principles of civilization thereby shedding older, wild and barbarian customs.

Later as Greek mythology was Romanized, Saturn became known as Cronus (the term “chronology” came from this).  And subsequently, he took the role of the god of time.  Further on, immediately after the Middle Ages, he was associated with a gloomy character.  Eventually, a planet known as the most arid and slowest was named after him.  Thereupon, he came to personify old age, poverty and death.  In the astrological imagination, Saturn was associated with unfavorable situations.

I do not wish, although to a certain extent, I could see Saturn criss-crossed on my palm.  I began to contemplate.

Once upon a time, I was a bubbly youth, almost spoiled by the mother although resources never allowed it.  My father was the sole breadwinner and it was his hand that literally guided every one of us.  It was his strength that we depended on much for our struggle.  While my father worked hard, a bureaucrat by day and an academician at night (much like philosophers Emanuel Kant and Francis Bacon before)  I never had a chance to pretend to be middle class juvenile although all my friends in the neighborhood swore that they were a cut above the rest of the struggling proletarian population.

My youth days were memorable because I was realistically grounded, knowing where I was, compared with my peers who lived and thought based on their delusions.  Vices made them more hooked on their beliefs.  In my case, I coasted along on what was obtaining in the here and now.

Years followed and I have witnessed how age caught up with my parents.  From an active almost athletic schedule my parents pursued up until sickness would slow them down.  From a smooth silky complexion my elders would project up until that day when I could feel the wrinkles envelop their facial expression, including the limb which they would use in coddling me during my toddler years.

I have had my share of youthful vibrancy until I would likewise reached that stage when I could also feel and see on the mirror the wrinkles which time battered on my body.  At almost a decade past the golden year, I could see my strength reduced almost to a half.  I could barely walk a mile while before I could play an endless game of basketball from dusk to dawn.  I could stay awake all night driving thousands of kilometers and appreciate every locality I would pass through without fatigue and exhaustion.  Now a trip to the nearby marketplace is a lethargic proposition already.

While it can be said that 60 is the new 40, while preservation of youthful looks may be encouraged through various means, vitamins, lifestyle and food, unlike where there was a dearth of these in the past, what remains inside the body is almost the same with that of the ancestors.  The equalizer remains with the environment.  Miracle tablets cannot over rule the influx of stress which at present brings forth multitude of irreversible ailments from viral diseases to the big C.  Science just could not cope up with the speed of maladies encroaching all over the world.

And it has tremendous effect not only the looks department but also on the life span of the human beings.  Eternal youth and immortality could no longer be captured except in fictional form like novels and movies.  Religious philosophies and spiritual rites on longevity of life would fail in the face of environmental challenges.

Ageing says modern science is not natural but a form of disease.  Man, says the new scientific doctrine, is never designed to wither unlike other creatures on the planet.  Man can live up to an infinite time until through negligence he forgets to stay attune with his natural universe.  Man’s mind indeed is his passport to eternity.

And on top of this, the password is moderation.

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