It has been a week since the Habagat that flooded several cities in the Philippines, stole properties and loved ones in the middle of the night, tested a people’s perseverance, and also its resolve in actually fixing a problem that has lasted for ages.
It has been a year since the Loren Legarda Senate Bill 2759 was approved in its third and final reading in Congress. 2759 is the Total Plastic Bag Act.
It has been almost a year, too, since House Bill 4840, the Plastic Regulation Act.
It has been more than a decade since the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
It has been billions of pesos in property, pesos and opportunity lost.
It has been billions of pesos wasted in being merely reactionary and focusing on relief efforts instead of preventive solutions.
It has been lives and loved ones lost again and again and again.
It has been one traumatic experience after another for families who cringe at the very pitter-patter of rain on their roofs.
What in Noah’s name are we waiting for?
Whatever version of the plastic ban law you believe in and are willing to have your lawmakers sign, whatever you lost during the flood, whatever the amount of time or resources you gave to the relief efforts, and if ever you believe that global warming is real – the problem is that we have not talked about it enough. We have debated on merely on issues that are fashionable and topics that are trending. But my guess is that the best time to try to solve flooding and waste management is not when people are in a state of panic, running up their stairs with one hand holding the electric fan, the other holding their kid.
While I do applaud and am proud of the Filipino’s ability to stand tall despite rising waters, and of his resiliency to rebuild his nation, and of his generosity to help his brothers and sisters, I still hold our discipline of the daily and mundane, suspect.
As Conrado de Quiros so well said, we, as a people, have shown the capacity time and again to die for our country. The gargantuan moments, the EDSAs, the coming together in relief centers. But we have not proven to ourselves that we can die daily. That nation-building is an everyday work. That we can make the connection between my 7-eleven plastic bag that I didn’t need anyway because I just bought one bottle of water, and the flood that submerged my neighbor’s house.
2013 is an election year. Midterm time. Local (Mayor, Governor, Barangay), Congress and Senate seats are up for grabs. These are the seats that will translate anger, desire and dreams into actual letters of the law. If we have to remind ourselves (I think we do), then let’s remember that their power rests on our votes and if their issues align with what we want for our country.
Here is a question to ask: Does your mayor, barangay captain, governor, congressman and senator have a plan to actually solve the flooding? I’m not saying they will stop all forms of flooding from now until the Final Reckoning, but that when the flooding does come, urban planning (or lack of it), improper management of waste, and irresponsibility on a national magnitude will not be the culprits. It will really be force majeur.
Baha ka lang. Pilipino ako. Let’s see if we can translate that spirit into something we can do everyday.