The Foolish Man Built His House

Remember that old Sunday school song? “And the rains came down and the floods came up.”

Well, apparently there are about 80 million fools who’ve decided to build homes in just about the most geographically disaster prone area in the world. Hurricane Katrina? We call that “September”

Dams exploding, cars all floating, and the Secretary of National Defense announcing on international television that all the local government can do is just say “sorry, we’ll try and do better next time.” Next time, he says! Meanwhile, the aptly named Mrs Arroyo (arroyo – n., a dry river bed that suddenly fills up with water after heavy rains) had a 30 second clip of her with a blank, listless stare broadcast on Chinese television.

Seriously, the good people of the Philippines deserve better than this, and for better or for worse the only way that things can improve is through the actions of private citizens and action groups. Church volunteers and corporate sponsors have already helped more people, more efficiently than the government has – and while it’s sad that Filipinos always have to wait for such a calamity before pitching in and doing public service, it’s also encouraging to see their speedy work and fast reaction time in helping those who are now homeless and destitute.

All the video coverage is probably not making things any better for the 3rd World but it’s good to know that while our institutions may not be the best in the world, our spontaneous markets for human kindness and charitable donations still work. It’s a foolish man who would place all his bets on governments and policies; sometimes you just have to believe in other people’s capacity to not leave you high and dry. Or in this case, drowning.

If you would like to donate and pitch in yourself, please go to the Philippine Red Cross Website.

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4 comments to The Foolish Man Built His House

  • Ian, thanks for sharing this. It’s surreal; you see a video where people are ‘surfing’ on a pile of debris like you are watching some sort of action movie. But then a millisecond later, I came back to reality and thought “this is the BBC, and that’s really happening”

    I know it must be hard seeing your home get such shoddy treatment by the government. Hope any friends and family you have in the region were able to get to higher ground and receive any help they may need.

  • Ian,
    I lived in the Philippines for 4 months (Imus, Cavite), and I appreciate you sharing this.

  • Ian Comandao

    @randy – if you listen in carefully (and can understand filipino) you can hear some men in the background yelling “holy sh!t, there are children on that thing!” some of my friends and family had their houses submerged about2 feet on the first floor leaving a thick layer of mud. things are now ok though; the worst is over, and there’s a good layer of topsoil on which to start planting.

    @dan – i really hope things get cleaned up soon enough. i mean, it’s already christmas season back home. people need some cheer.