Three years ago, a storm unlike anything we’ve ever seen hit our shores. Yolanda was its name, with its cold breath uprooting anything that stood in its path, its waters drowning and washing away the hopes and lives of the people of Eastern Visayas. Mud people walked the streets begging for food to eat, assistance to start over. Homeless people stared blankly at the wasteland that stretched before them. People asking for help, immediate help. Even after 3 years now, help hasn’t arrived. The souls of the dead still mingle with the bodies of the living, hungry for justice. As a different horror continue to sweep the region, that of government rehabilitation gone wrong
Yolanda wasn’t the last of the horrors, it was just the beginning. Along with it came other monsters, bigger and more haunting than the storm surges. Emergency was given a new meaning. Instead of lightning fast assistance to the survivors, they were made to wait, even to beg for their survival. Some were outright stricken off as beneficiaries of the cash assistance, as business interests were prioritized instead of lives in government declared “no dwelling zones”. Three years and still the emergency assistance promised to them might as well been buried in one of the mass graves. The rainbow colored leprechaun responsible for this horror, continue to walk away scot free, along with her share of pot of gold from the government coffers.
Instead of ensuring the safety of the living, survivors were placed in disaster prone resettlement areas, susceptible to flooding and even landslides. Survivors were housed in coffin like shelters, as if to ready them should death come knocking at their doors. Instead of homes for the living, haunted houses were provided, with the stench of heat and dry earth creeping inside the hollows. The foul environment have already caused deaths to the inhabitants. Night becomes darker as the sun sets because even light have been deprived of the residents. Resettlement areas have gotten the biggest share of the rehabilitation fund, yet reports prove that only 28% of the units have been completed out of the P40 billion allocated to housing.
Local spectres are busy painting the towns a façade of recovery, development even. Yet the monstrosity of the man made disaster cannot be hidden even with beautification projects and band aid solutions provided to the survivors. A “Great Wall” was planned to defend the people should the surges return, but in reality it is a prison made to keep the survivors mired in poverty.
Livelihood was far from the minds of the puppets, even taking advantage of the destruction to leech off profit and concessions for foreign masters. Until now, hunger and poverty remain widespread due to the displacement of thousands of people from their actual sources of livelihood. Farmers continue to till the land amidst the deaths of their crops, that would take seven years for them to recuperate their income. Pests came swarming at their farmlands, leaving nothing for them to eat. Feudal lords continue to take advantage of their helpessness with rock bottom prices for their produce, even as the farmers struggle to put food in the table. Workers are plagued everyday with insufficient income and threat to their jobs. Students are dazed, forced to quit school to take up the cudgels and responsibility to feed their families. Women, and all other survivors stand rooted in their hopelessness, waiting if any help would arrive at all.
But the ghosts of the past must not remain a distant memory. A new surge is being born out of the calamity that was Yolanda, out of the disaster that was the Yellow Administration and the no1 puppet Aquino. The cries of the dead forge with the mass of the living continue the call for justice and accountabilty. Three years is enough. It is not those who have departed that they should fear, but the anger of the living waiting to put an end to this horrors of horrors.###