A newsman once commented that when national disasters hit the Philippines, we now count our dead in the thousands, not in hundreds; destroyed properties in the billions of pesos, not millions; and the displaced in tens or hundreds of thousands.
This was particularly true with typhoon Pablo, hitting, of all places, Compostela Valley, known as the gold-rush capital of the Philippines, in Central Mindanao.
A similar typhoon plowed through Northern Mindanao the year before with similarly devastating results: thousands of dead, many more thousands homeless and billions worth of properties, including entire houses, lost.
The Mindanao disasters had shown us and the world that changing climate patterns have made that typhoon-free region one of the frequent victims of such calamity.
It reminds us of the movie Avatar, a 21st century metaphor of the conflict between high technology driven by greed, and the secret forces of nature. In the end, nature prevailed.
Avatar must have been inspired by a book which advanced the theory that Mother Earth, a planet that is very much alive, has a mind of her own; a mind far more superior than tenants on her surface, including man.
With a will all her own, the planet has at its command all the forces of nature, all of which follow her laws without fail.
As tenants, we were given the freedom to share from the earth’s bounties, but not to abuse them. Man has dug her insides for minerals and oil, denuded her mountains, dammed her rivers, poisoned her air.
In pursuit of various, mostly commercial, agenda we have collectively wounded her, endangered her very survival, made her sick. We have, in our drive to modernize, inflicted harm on our host planet and provoked her wrath.
The Philippines has gotten a fair share of nature’s wrath as a result. A killer quake flattened major cities from Baguio to Dagupan and Cabanatuan in North Luzon in 1990. More than 4,000 people died. And most buildings above three stories in Baguio crumbled. The following year, she awakened long sleeping Mt. Pinatubo and devastated most of Central Luzon.
Then Ormoc City in Leyte got wiped out by flash floods. Many more typhoons, including Ondoy and Sendong, brought tragedies to Luzon and the Visayas in succeeding years. The wrath of nature has also turned to Mindanao. Thousands more got killed and billions more worth of properties destroyed.
We know of similar horror stories elsewhere around the globe. This is a pattern that should not be ignored. It’s time we learn our lessons and start healing Mother Earth’s wounds. This is especially imperative for the export sector, which relies on natural resources for its raw materials.