What jolt us at this time are the seemingly incongruous events shocking us even from afar.
These events are the spectacle of poverty being exploited on national television by the Wowowee show where the stories of despair become fodder for public consumption of what it means to be dirt poor.
We hear their stories, the poor who went to that show to stake their claim to the good fortune made possible by the gods and the goodness of heart of the host who knew when to spot the authentically poor from the authentically impoverished.
The deaths were a sad commentary of what have we become as a people.
And dedicated to despair.
And now this at St. Bernard in Leyte.
The mud is what seals the spectacle of death. Acres and acres of mud that make final what death is all about.
We put in the eerie sub-stories of a text message of someone trapped there and asking that they be helped, the plea ultimate and primal: “Please, help us, ma’am.”
We come full circle with all these narratives of despair.
We see—again and again—the see of people trying to get into the scene of celebration and death for that anniversary show dedicated to the proposition that if the government remains callous to the plight of the downtrodden, then let us, at least, make a show out of this misery so that those balikbayans coming over would be moved to shell out something, something extra, a surplus from their hotel bills and from their dollar-determined life in the US of A.
A thousand pesos is a thousand pesos wherever one goes.
The thousand pesos that one gets as a consolation prize translates to five days of hard work if you were subcontracting your labor to the retail chains that do not consider the meaning of human labor except to count the monies that come into the company’s coffers out of the sweat and blood of degreed young men and women people whose duty is to put back the clothing and the shoes on the rack after customers have tried them on or simply inspected them for appropriate color combination with their skin tone.
These spectacle of tragedy continues to haunt the country and the despair comes from the thought that there seems to be an end to all of these.
One tragedy after another is simply too much for a country that does not have enough resources except its people that go away in order to find life somewhere else.
One news account says that many of the fathers in this community in Leyte were away at the time of the landslide—away in other countries scratching out a life for their families and children, many of them perhaps trapped in the school building that seemed to have been swallowed up in one instant by the rampaging mud.
Many questions remain: how did it happen that a landslide of this magnitude could wipe out a community?
Are there environmental issues involved here?
Who is in-charge?
Even in this tragedy, we see a repeat of what capability we have.
We have to depend on some other people and some other countries for the basic instruments needed to determine whether there is indeed some life still trapped under mud.
We call for a wake up call—but then when was the last time ever that we were able awakened by these realities?