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What’s hot, what’s not in the face of calamity

Heroes and volunteers. Rescue teams, police and hospital workers went above and beyond the call of duty to come to the aid of those in need, logging in long hours and setting aside their own comforts and event safety to serve other people. Volunteers wasted no time, springing to action even as the disaster was still unfolding. They braved the strong rain and the flooded streets to get to relief centers, to cook meals, to pack goods, to get people to safety, to let the hapless know they weren’t forgotten. Those who couldn’t leave their homes raided their closets and pantries for things they could donate and used the Internet to disseminate important information. Donations have been given and pledges have been made even by people outside the country. We wish we had all their names so we could honor them. They are all heroes.

The Filipino Spirit. It really is unsinkable.

Twitter. The social networking site played an important role in relief and rescue efforts during the disaster. Because of Twitter, people were alerted, prodded to help; they knew where to go, where to send relief goods, who to rescue and which roads were flooded. There is a lot of power in 140 characters.

Eco-friendly relief. There’s a more conscious effort now to make sure that the relief goods sent out are eco-friendly. People are trying to use biodegradable or reusable bags for packing goods. A lot have also chosen to pledge Binalot meals (visit http://binalot.multiply.com/collection/7/BINALOT-Pledges). Providing relief for those affected by the flood is a great thing. But we also need to do everything we can to avoid another disaster–and one step is not adding to our country’s already big garbage problem.

WaterproofPH. The Ayala Museum launched a campaign called “The Filipino Spirit is Waterproof,” which encouraged people to post to Twitter artworks inspired by the theme. Many responded, with submissions being sent every 20 minutes. These works of art can now be viewed on Waterproofph.tumblr.com. If Ayala Museum decides to sell these fantastic works of art as postcards, notebooks or posters for the benefit of those affected by the flood, we’d be the first in line to buy.

Some 12,000 Bilibid inmates miss lunch to send food to flood victims. And not only that, they also donated clothes. That was incredible news to hear in the middle of the disaster. If people can help from behind bars, the rest of us don’t have an excuse.

Calamity hilarity. Even in the midst of the crazy weather, we found reasons to chuckle. Like when Pagasa hydrologist Elmer Caringal unwittingly dressed like Robin in one of his news reports (you rock, sir). Or Mayor Alfredo Lim’s Twitter exchange with a student. “I declare classes be suspended tomorrow, August 9 in ALL levels both  public and private.” @lrancole replied, “WALA NANG BAWIAN AHH :D” And the Mayor replied, “@lrancole wala na.” Then there’s Mayor Lim’s meme.  And that photo of Michael Phelps swimming in Marikina floodwater. And that fab flood mermaid. It’s good to know that bad weather cannot dampen Pinoy humor.

The Noah connection. We were wondering why Genesis 8:7–12 became a Twitter trending topic in the middle of the heavy rains. A quick Bible check showed that these verses were part of the passage about Noah’s ark. People spent a lot of energy connecting the Bible verses to the day’s date–8/7/12–scaring themselves and others in the process. They should have just spent that energy doing what they can to help others.

Wrong info. While it was great that people were using the Internet to spread info about the flood and relief efforts, the quick dissemination of information led to inaccuracies, including reports about University of Santo Tomas Hospital’s generator dying, Philippine General Hospital being isolated and old photos from Ondoy being mistaken for new ones. There’s a lesson to be learned here—verify, verify, verify. And click responsibly.

Rhed Anunciado. This government worker in Davao angered Filipino Facebook users when he posted this status on the social networking  page: “Sana mawala na ang Manila sa mapa ng Pilipinas… Hahaha. Ayyy huwag na lang bka dito na kayo sa Mindanao makikipagsiksikan…  Hahaha.. Ang init tlga dito! Grabe!” A screenshot of his post has gone viral and people headed to his Facebook page to express their displeasure. He has since issued repeated apologies, saying, “Please tell the whole people of Luzon my apology for them. I really don’t  mean it… SORRY guys… My millions of sorry…” Some Facebook users have branded him as the “troll of the century.”

God’s wrath? People campaigning against the RH Bill decided to use the terrible flood to back up their arguments: “The flood is a message  from God”; “God is expressing His wrath.” Then there’s Ali Atienza, who posted this on Facebook, “Sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo… kung wala kang anak… Sino ang tutulong sayo na maglimas ng baha sa loob ng  bahay mo??? NO TO RH BILL.” Hilarious. And also kind of sad. Why are people using this calamity to push their agendas? The only agenda we should be pushing now is kindness.


Opportunistic politicians. They reared their ugly heads during Ondoy and now they’re back again.  Politicians who love plastering their names and faces on relief goods, officials who think of relief efforts as just another photo-op, public servants who treat trips to the most affected areas as a motorcade.  Have they no shame? This is not the time to be campaigning. We’re disgusted and we’re not the only ones. Netizens have coined a special hashtag just for these opportunistic politicians: “#epal.” We’d like to propose another hashtag: “#kadiri.”

Thieves, looters and anyone else who took advantage of the calamity to do evil. There are reports of thieving and looting (no wonder people are reluctant to evacuate their homes), and, according to Malaya.com.ph, NPA rebels attacked soldiers who were headed to affected areas in Masbate for relief work. Calamities really do bring out the best and worst in people.

Want to contribute to the Super Thermometer? E-mail us at super@inquirer.com.ph.

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Tags: Calamities , environmental issues , Floods , Lifestyle , Rains , Rescue operations , Twitter , WaterproofPH , Weather

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