Rain and rage

Business World - - Opinion - MARIA VIC­TO­RIA RUFINO is an artist, writer and busi­ness­woman. She is pres­i­dent and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of Mav­er­ick Pro­duc­tions. mavrufino@gmail.com

The reclu­sive sun has been play­ing hide-and-seek be­hind storm clouds. For many days the rains poured re­lent­lessly, drench­ing the city. It seemed that an end­less wa­ter­fall was un­leashed by the heav­ens, to wash away the smog, grime and de­cay.

Climate change and global warm­ing have changed the sea­sons. In our trop­i­cal part of the world, the La Niña phe­nom­e­non has in­un­dated the coun­try. The heavy rains wreak havoc ev­ery­where. In­stead of high­ways, we have smelly wa­ter­ways that lead nowhere. Im­pass­able canals so far re­moved from ro­man­tic Venice.

We have been hav­ing strange tor­ren­tial rains ev­ery week. With one heavy down­pour, the flash floods are waist-high, caus­ing in­stant traf­fic grid­lock. Stalled ve­hi­cles are trapped in one gi­gan­tic park­ing lot for count­less hours. Com­muters, drivers, mo­torists are an­gry, im­pa­tient, frus­trated and hy­per­sen­si­tive to the point of rage and help­less­ness.

Many chil­dren and adults are sick with in­fluenza, snif­fles and all kinds of res­pi­ra­tory ail­ments. The ter­ri­fy­ing wa­ter-borne dis­ease from ro­dents is lethal if un­treated. There is the dreaded scourge of dengue and its mu­tant ver­sions as well.

Mon­soon rains bring heavy floods that de­stroy agri­cul­tural crops. Land­slides dam­age in­fra­struc­ture and bury small vil­lages and min­ers.

Be­fore we blame the au­thor­i­ties (such as the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways and the Mayor) for not do­ing their jobs prop­erly, we should ex­am­ine our­selves first.

What are we do­ing wrong?

An as­tute ob­server noted that the Filipino takes pride in keep­ing an im­mac­u­late house­hold and gar­den. Yet, he wouldn’t hes­i­tate to throw garbage out­side the fence or lit­ter on the streets. This sce­nario is com­mon. It oc­curs again and again — in the big city, the small bar­rio, the prov­inces.

Streets be­come clogged be­cause of the garbage that peo­ple care­lessly throw away — non-biodegrad­able items such as bot­tles, plas­tic bags, styro boxes, cig­a­rette butts, tin cans.

Lit­ter dis­posed by thought­less pas­sen­gers of pub­lic buses and jeeps ac­cu­mu­late in the drains and sew­ers.

Dur­ing nor­mal times, the lack of dis­ci­pline is so ev­i­dent. Buses and mo­tor­cy­cles stray from one side of the road to the other, weav­ing from one side of the road to the other. They act like flashy sports cars. Three abreast, the buses try to col­lect pas­sen­gers any­where on the road, to­tally dis­re­gard­ing bus stops. They do not care about block­ing the high­way and they speed along even when there are floods — splat­ter­ing pol­luted wa­ter on pedes­tri­ans.

The city en­gi­neers and their san­i­ta­tion teams should clean the streets and drainage sys­tems, re­move the silt, garbage and de­bris reg­u­larly. How­ever, if the cit­i­zens them­selves are ap­a­thetic and non-sup­port­ive, all the ef­forts and en­ergy of the gov­ern­ment shall just go to waste.

What can be pro­posed is a mul­ti­me­dia in­for­ma­tion cam­paign to ed­u­cate peo­ple, chil­dren and all cit­i­zens of the im­por­tance of the environment and proper waste dis­posal.

Un­less we are all aware of the haz­ards — phys­i­cal and men­tal — caused by street garbage, the floods will al­ways dis­rupt our sys­tem, threaten our lives and pro­voke our (in)san­ity.

We must work to­gether to pre­vent or min­i­mize the fear­some floods. Traf­fic causes road rage. It could be fa­tal to peo­ple who are stressed. There are more road ac­ci­dents and ac­ci­dents, shoot­ings. There is hardly an ounce of pa­tience left in the mind of the driver or commuter. Any lit­tle de­lay or block­age on the street can trig­ger road rage. It brings out the worst in peo­ple.

Noah built the myth­i­cal ark where he kept his fam­ily and a pair of ev­ery an­i­mal species. They sur­vived the great flood, but all other life forms were oblit­er­ated.

Af­ter the 40 days and 40 nights of non­stop rains, the lu­minous rain­bow ap­peared. It was a sign of God’s prom­ise that He would never de­stroy the earth again through wa­ter.

Some­where along the way, from the bi­b­li­cal leg­end to the present, the weather got messed up. A karmic debt for the sav­age en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age caused by man.

The del­i­cate balance of Na­ture was up­set. Now we must suf­fer and en­dure El Niño and La Niña in con­sec­u­tive and fierce on­slaughts.

We are not as for­tu­nate as Noah in the sense that we all must swim or sink to­gether. There is no mir­a­cle ark to save us. We should save our­selves — coun­try, city, com­mu­nity and fam­i­lies.

What shall we do?

Ed­u­ca­tion is the first step. Chil­dren can learn quickly about the environment and the eco­log­i­cal cy­cle. They re­tain their lessons, can fol­low the ex­am­ple of the par­ents.

Teach­ing the par­ents and grand­par­ents is an­other chal­lenge. It would re­quire supreme ef­fort to make adults fol­low sim­ple rules and direc­tions such as: “Do not lit­ter.” “Re­cy­cle garbage.” “Keep your sur­round­ings and the streets clean.”

Per­haps, if the roles were re­versed, we would have a bet­ter chance. Chil­dren could set the ex­am­ple and teach their stub­born par­ents.

What a big dif­fer­ence that would make.

It might take two gen­er­a­tions, strong po­lit­i­cal will — on the part of gov­ern­ment and col­lec­tive dis­ci­pline on the part of its cit­i­zens — to re­solve the peren­nial prob­lem.

We would have a fight­ing chance if we have the guts to start now.

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