Life swings violently at times, as is its pattern in moments of great change. The earth rocks, the floods surge, the slopes slide, and the winds howl. That is nature every so often. That is politics as well, when the time of cleansing and purging comes.
The 10-billion scam was the opening ante, so to speak, of the poker game called corruption. It is hard to say that , without the alleged kidnapping of Benhur Luy, the scam would have remained buried. Without speculation, though, with just the hard facts, an alleged kidnapping opened a closet door with skeletons tumbling out.
The unexpected revelation of a story that has so many gory details plunged Philippine society into shock, then rage, then recrimination. With plunder and graft threatening to end political careers and dynasties, those with guilt in their hearts know that their guilt could quickly become public, and legal. It is not a just about morality, it is also prison time. Plus a legacy of shame for generations to come.
The corruption now laid before the feet of a few senators and congressmen will be a continuing storm. With corruption thriving in the eyes of people since the Quirino presidency, it is not an act, it is a sub-culture. If it is not reversed, then it upgrades to be a culture. Thankfully, it is facing a powerful force, a people awakening to something they knew all along but refused to confront – and want to reject it.
Just as things were heating up on pork barrel, PDAF and DAP, an earthquake hit Bohol in a big way. For two weeks, the Philippines was shaken. A Wonder of the World site, the famous Chocolate Hills, lost both shape and color due to landslides. And centuries-old churches collapsed. Aftershocks were aplenty, forcing an already afraid people to sleep outside. The reality of faults came to fore again, making everyone wonder when an earthquake will hit their area, and how strong it would be.
The reality of sink-holes, though, shocked people. What were sink-holes in the first place? The term hardly was used publicly as though it belonged only to scientists. But no more. After all, a sink-hole will drastically drop real estate values of any property with that technical phenomenon. Government will condemn such places, even if you have a sturdy house on top of it.
Bohol residents, or the poor among them who had little or no options, lost their food and water sources. The aftershocks kept families together, literally, physically. Family members would stay together as aftershock after aftershock. The breadwinner did not work because he or she would not separate from one another, fearful that the next shock could break apart the ground beneath their feet. And swallow them.
From a political storm to an earthquake shock. Features of an environment undergoing a cleansing, a catharsis. Especially as the opposite was also happening. The knowledge that fellow Filipinos were devastated by the earthquake and now without food and water made the best in everyone find expression in a big way. The generosity and concern for the earthquake survivors produced food and water, and generated inspiring volunteers.
Filipinos were donating money for food, volunteers repacking the food, and the most passionate ones actually went to Bohol to distribute food packs and water. From the reality of questionable politicians to a greater reality of generosity in the Filipino. From an atmosphere of corruption to an aura of nobility.
Then, Janet Napoles was brought to the Senate to be questioned by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. For one day, everyone was glued to the TV set. It seemed like the Filipi9no people were fantasizing that Napoles would suddenly tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The country became a peanut gallery. Of course, Janet Napoles said nothing except “my right against self-incrimination. “
All the while, Yolanda was on her way, a super typhoon. There were enough warning. I myself posted it three times in Facebook because I saw the word “sower.” It also reminded me that these out-of-season typhoons, the ones that come in November and December, they hurt the most, like Sendong and Pablo. My fears were proven right. Yolanda was a killer.
It is difficult to imagine just what kind of a killer Yolanda was. She was a serial killer, for one, because it was as though she killed five times, every time she made landfall, from Cebu to Palawan. Everyday, as the rubble clears, as more information comes, her viciousness is revealed. Close to 2,000 already, and counting.
For six nights, I have cut my sleep. For seven days, I have lengthened my work. I am one of many who have been moved by the horror of the destruction, and the impact on those who did not even feel the wind and the water of Yolanda. From the time Yolanda left, when we could not get much news from people who were in her direct path, we knew it was bad, very bad.
How many typhoons, landslides, floods, fires, earthquakes and armed conflict have I, as a volunteer and advocate for Gawad Kalinga, cleaned up after? The landslides in Southern Leyte, the typhoons of Luzon and Mindanao, the pocket wars in Mindanao, the fires in Metro Manila, the earthquake of Bohol. All of them killed, mostly the poor. All of them forced us to go to the rehabilitation stage when they had to rebuild their lives.
Yolanda is no different. Her victims look the same. Their needs look the same. Their pain feels the same. My pain feels the same. The concern of Filipinos everywhere is the same. Most anyway, as a few cannot help but be themselves. Some loot, some kill, some do nothing but criticize. But by far, the heart of the Filipino chooses to be at its best, caring, sharing, being there for others.
We are swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other at speeds that are frightening. It is the nature of great change to disturb greatly. We should welcome this catharsis because it will usher in a golden period, the mark of lessons learned, perhaps our great legacy to the generations following ours.