On True Filipino Resilience

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Super Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan) struck the Philippine central islands last November 8, 2012.

TJ Palanca https://www.twitter.com/tjpalanca
2013-11-13

TRUE RESILIENCE IS PREPAREDNESS - Super Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan) struck the Philippine central islands last November 8, 2012. The humanitarian disaster was immense, with the death toll well into the thousands. The Philippines will recover and get back to business, but by no means can this cycle of rebuilding and destruction continue for the island nation.

The scale of death and destruction in the eastern provinces of Leyte and Samar is immense. (Photo: <a href='http://www.flickr.com/photos/69583224@N05/10800154344/in/photolist-hsnBBE-hpRyKv-hpRyeF-hpS9Gs-huA2Ub-hsRzzr-htZSgd-hu1rX9-hu2bDR-htZL6X-hu1rEL-hu1s4G-htZLgM-hu1rru-hu2aYx-hsodA6-hsnDbS-hsodfr-hsodUc-hsnDj7-hsn1P5-hsmW3k-hsnC1A-hsmX9i-hsn1a9-hsnC8E-hsn17o-hsnCgL-hsnCVm-hsodar-hsmX4D-hsmWve-hsoc6T-hsmZrq-hsmWXr-hsod18-hsnDfj-hsn15j-hsnCFd-hsnCZ9-hsn2zd-hsocZX-hsn21Y-hsmWhD-hsmWnt-hsQZ8m-hk1Qc5-huCGA6-hupj5Z' target='_blank'>EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection/Flickr</a>, <a href='http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/deed.en' >CC BY-ND 2.0</a>)

Figure 1: The scale of death and destruction in the eastern provinces of Leyte and Samar is immense. (Photo: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection/Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Typhoon Yolanda packed winds that broke scientific measurement scales, and is reported to be the strongest tropical cyclone in recorded history. It killed thousands of Filipinos and left even more homeless and desperate for basic necessities. Relief efforts are underway and multiple countries have pledged support for the victims, but the lack of logistics and damage to critical transportation infrastructure hamper the flow of goods to critical areas.

In 2006, Super Typhoon Reming, second only to Yolanda in terms of wind speed, blasted my hometown of Legazpi. The destruction was similarly catastrophic: a whole barangay succumbed to landslides, thousands of people left dead or homeless, which is why my first reaction, without knowledge of the actual death toll, was, “it happens nearly every year, anyway.” It’s a thought I’d be ashamed to admit, but then it hit me: this happens every year, and such a deplorable state of mind begs the question “Why?”

It happens all the time

This may be the strongest typhoon on record, but the death and destruction from typhoons crossing the Philippines isn’t an isolated event. Every year, the Pacific ocean breathes more than twenty storms to life and sends them off. First stop: the beautiful island nation of the Philippines. Every few years, however, there is a particularly strong typhoon, and that’s where things start to get worse.

We can survive despite the typhoons, yes, but you’d be ill-advised to think that disaster response is to be taken lightly - confined only to reconstruction and feeding the survivors. Turns out, if you want to predict the prosperity of a certain region in the Philippines, you don’t look at education, health, or innovation, but rather whether it’s shielded from typhoons or not.