Sunday, December 18, 2011

Typhoons, then and now: one person's perspective

The Philippines has always been ravaged by typhoons (also known as hurricanes in the west hemisphere) several times a year, for as long as man has been around. Growing up in Negros Oriental, we were usually spared the full force of typhoons bearing down from the Pacific Ocean by other islands  east of us  (Cebu, Bohol, Samar). As late as the 60's and 70's, as in other parts of the Philippines, the mountains were forested and the lowlands were less populated. There was flooding (esp when swollen rivers met high tides) but it seemed that calamitous disasters were limited to the coastal areas.
I found this YouTube video which illustrates a storm through a child's eyes. "Bagyo sa Dagat" means "storm on the sea",

Typhoons meant days off from school, smelling the perversely-intoxicating post-storm air, wading through ankle-deep waters (oblivious to the health risks), and surveying the debris strewn along the swollen riverbanks and the coast. Downed coconut trees across fences and roofless houses were fascinating to look at. Of course, typhoon damages were very real to the farmers and the homeowners. Roads and bridges have to be repaired and the cost to an already impoverished people is very difficult to imagine. But that was for the adults to worry about.
Here's a YouTube photo composite posted yesterday, one day after Typhoon Sendong battered the southern Philippines, showing  the very real damages a typhoon can inflict:
The aftermath: damaged infrastructure, contaminated water, ruined farmland, lost lives. What are we to do?

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