COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
The summer days of May have not yet ended and here we are hearing news of flooding in Mindanao. Come June and the rainy months ahead and there will be more calamities coming and it will be nationwide simply with the onset of the wet season. The rain, which has been for centuries a boon to our farmers, has now become a disaster. Why is it so?
The increase in population size may have encroached on the land for human settlements but the widespread denudation of our forests is the main cause for the floods. Uncontrolled logging and mining – the greed of the few – have eroded our forests of the vital trees to hold the rain waters so they will not flow down to the plains. Vast pieces of lands down the plains have also been cleared to be planted with cash crops – again, the greed of the few – to perpetuate an export dependent economy.
It still confounds me why our government leaders or probably the majority of our people don’t respond to our natural habitat, as if we are living in another landscape. It must be the effect of the mis-education of the Filipinos, or probably due to our preoccupation with politics in almost all spheres of national life, or simply an erroneous sense of priorities.
People in Iceland and the Scandinavian Peninsula are great ship builders as their geographical locations demand that they build strong and powerful ships. But in the Philippines with so many islands scattered in its archipelago, the need for seaworthy vessels plying within its waters have been valued lightly. No wonder we hear year after year of maritime disasters of the petty kind that could have been avoided had important focus been given to that transportation aspect in this country.
The people of Japan with their earthquake prone land still push for light materials for their housing structures. But here in the Philippines with the tropical heat, we are building residences designed for a temperate climate. Rarely do I enter a modern house now without feeling suffocated due to the lack of ventilation. The electric fans have to be turned on twenty-four hours a day even during the cold months.
We are even fortunate that we have only two climates to deal with and only have to contend with a set of yearly typhoons. We don’t have to deal with winter where rarely a plant grows and where we need to securely protect our bodies. We don’t have to deal with great hurricanes, sandstorms, and other natural disasters that befall on other lands. But it seems that the rain, which has been our eternal blessing, we would like to add as our problem.
The floods caused by the rain waters are not only bringing disaster in the cities due to poor sewerage systems but to the rural areas where flooding should be least expected. But no one is spared of a denuded mountains and forests and every living thing has to suffer the dire consequences. Yes, climate change is a global phenomenon but a balanced ecological system would have been our proper defense.
Our leaders, I hope, for this new dispensation must attend to this perennial problem of flooding with a long range plan and vision. If before we only had to brave the unavoidable typhoons as we are located in the Pacific Rim, now we have to expect a week of rain to wreck havoc on our lives. And to our people, I pray, that they must possess in times of calamities a great deal of resilience and common sense.