When the nail sticks out

rants, raves and randomness

The country on rush

There is this drug that I tried once, a long time ago when I was a college student. It came in small dark colored bottles about the same size as the Acetone bottles (sold back home to remove nail polish), sold in the dodgy party district of Osaka. Just one sniff  can send you into a..well.. how do I describe this? Severe retardation in the medical sense. Thought processes en retard, as we say in French.

The Philippines on Rush : Mental Retardation

The Philippines on Rush : Mental Retardation

Medical Definition of RETARDATION. 1 : an abnormal slowness of thought or action; especially : mental retardation. 2 : slowness in development or progress.

The effect was gone in 5 minutes, but boy those 5 minutes felt like an eternity. Reminds me of those rugby boys back home, although I have never sniffed rugby to know if they are exactly one and the same thing. Ironically, the drug was called “rush” by my non-native English speaking classmates. But whatever. We were students, we were young,stupid, bored – and most importantly, thanks to our scholarship, we had some money to burn.

Coincidentally it was the time when Black Eyed Peas’ Let’s get Retarded became a hit.

Man! Those were the days!

Anyway, rush reminds me so much of the Philippines. It’s like a whole nation in a constant state (mental) retardation. Actions too late.

About the Valenzuela fire :

He also questioned the factory’s lack of a fire safety inspection certificate from 1996 up to last year. Kentex was only able to secure such a document in 2012.

“Marami hong ginagawang kilos ngayon sa imbestigasyon patungo sa pagsasampa ng mga kaukulang mga kaso sa mga nagkulang na hindi sumunod sa mga batas na nandyan na,” Aquino said.

Aquino said 23 establishments in the vicinity of the razed factory were inspected by the Bureau of Fire Protection after the warehouse blaze. All failed to pass government standards. One establishment even had to be closed down.

Calonzo, Andrea. GMA News. PNoy sees charges vs. Valenzuela officials over deadly factory fire. June 1, 2015. Web. June 3, 2015. <  www.  gmanetwork. com /news/ story/ 496390/ news/ nation/pnoy -sees- charges- vs-valenzuela -officials-o ver-deadly-factory -fire >

Now this line really got to me :

Aquino said 23 establishments in the vicinity of the razed factory were inspected by the Bureau of Fire Protection after the warehouse blaze.

I am not claiming to be an expert at anything. But don’t site inspections have to happen  before? Isn’t that the point of inspections in the first place?! I mean 72 dead, for crying out loud! Not 1, not 2. 72! Aanhin pa ang damo, kung patay na ang kabayo. And fire isn’t exactly a novelty either – turn on the radio and listen. You’d have thought that with the number of fire accidents, things would have improved. But instead of proactively implementing proper fire building codes or stricter fire safety standards, we’re always caught with our pants down. The rule in the Philippines is this : tragedy first, action later. The Philippines on rush!!!

And it’s not just fire. Look at the alarming rate of HIV-positive cases.

AN OFFICIAL of the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said Thursday the Philippines is already facing a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) “epidemic” given the “fast and furious” spread of the disease.

Sun Star. UN exec sees an HIV ‘epidemic’ in Philippines. March 21, 2015. Web. June 3, 2015.  < www. sunstar. com. ph /breaking -news/ 2015/ 03/ 19/ un -exec -sees -hiv -epidemic -philippines – 398311 >

Epidemic. Jesus. Don’t people know that, especially when it comes to HIV, a pound of prevention is worth a ton of cure? But then, I guess we won’t be considered “third world” if we’re experts at prevention. We’re a country  that can barely look after itself as  Robert Kaplan wrote. We wait for things to blow up in our faces before we act. For our people to die in a blaze. For half of our population to test positive for HIV.

It’s most unfortunate that we don’t do anything in advance to prevent certain tragedies from happening.  Tragedies like this :

The Philippines on Rush : Number of teenage pregnancies doubled in Philippines in last decade: study

The Philippines on Rush : Number of teenage pregnancies doubled in Philippines in last decade: study

If we don’t become proactive, next time, it might just be you. Or your daughter. Or your granddaughter. Or someone close to you.

And for certain unavoidable tragedies, maybe we can lessen the impact by doing something BEFORE they actually strike. Some of our of disasters are as regular as a woman’s period : take typhoons, for example. We get, what, 20 typhoons a year? (Admittedly, I don’t get my period as frequently as that!) And pretty much like a healthy woman’s period,  we cannot prevent typhoons from coming. But maybe- just maybe, we can prevent (or lessen) the typhoon damage.

And I’m not necessarily talking about G-Cans. (Or in our analogy, maybe birth control pills?)

The Philippines on Rush :  Tokyo's G-cans

The Philippines on Rush : Tokyo’s G-cans. Image from Unmissablejapan.com

Anything similar to G-cans is a pipe dream at the moment (yes, pretty much like bcp). It’ll mean billions of dollars in funds, increase in taxes and maybe another Napoles.   I suggest keeping things simple, going back to basics :

In order to protect areas against the destructive impact of typhoons, it is vital to maintain or reforest both the green protective belt along the coasts and the rainforests on mountain slopes. The local population have to be integrated in these measures right from the start. For without agricultural alternatives, and without an alternative source of firewood, deforestation will remain an essential element of survival.

Göltenboth, Friedhelm. Rural 21. Appropriate agriculture can lessen the destructive impact of typhoons. March 21, 2014. Web. June 3, 2015. < www. rural21. com/ english/ opinion-corner/ detail/ article/ appropriate-agriculture-can-lessen -the -destructive -impact -of -typhoons -00001075/ >

It doesn’t have to take billions of dollars to help ourselves. My point is: If we can mobilize and do something after typhoons, maybe we can also mobilize and do something before typhoons happen? It’s in our best interest to do so.   Our lives depend on it. Educate people about minimizing typhoon impacts. Educate girls about their bodies. Who said we are stuck to being reactive?  Come on Pilipinas. How many people have to die or be displaced?! How many teen girls need to get pregnant?

It’s not that divine powers have specifically chosen the Philippines to bear the brunt of natural disasters. We’ve had 6 earthquakes in the past 7 days, the largest one being a 7.8.

The Philippines on Rush :  Recent Earthquake Near Japan

The Philippines on Rush : Recent Earthquakes Near Japan

Let’s face it – Korina was right. As a country we (Japan) can take a good beating better than the Philippines.. Thanks to them Japanese being extremely anal about earthquake codes and when-shit-hits-the-fan measures. This is probably the only country where some managers are required to report to work  when a magnitude 8 strikes.

The unfortunate fact of life is that, unlike Japan, Pilipinas is reactive. If a country makes a simple task too long and tedious ( eg collecting bags at the airport or issuing of driver’s license), then no surprises at how it handles calamities. Reactions are too slow and too late.

In his on-air comments, Cooper described the situation in the battered city as “miserable,” observing that the government had not even set up a feeding center five days after the storm struck.

The veteran CNN journalist also noted in one of his tweets that “Haiyan’s youngest victims are also some of the most vulnerable.”

Cooper contrasted the slow action in Tacloban to the swift response of the Japanese government during the tsunami in 2011.

“When I was in Japan, right after the tsunami there two years ago, within a day or two, you had Japanese defense forces going out, carving up cities into grids and going out on foot looking for people, walking through the wreckage. We have not seen that here in any kind of large-scale operation,” Cooper said.

Buelva, Alma. Manila Bulletin. Anderson Cooper reports on govt’s failure in Tacloban. November 14, 2013. Web. June 3, 2015. < www. mb. com. ph/ anderson- cooper- reports-on-governments- failure-in-tacloban/  >

My cousin took his oath 2.5 years after winning the election. As my coñotic classmate used to say, “It’s so tagal!!” And when actions are finally taken, they aren’t preventive ones. They are short-term band-aid solutions. Or shall we say, balde solutions?

The Philippines on Rush :  Press Office sa NAIA T1 binaha ng ulan

The Philippines on Rush : Press Office sa NAIA T1 binaha ng ulan

Why is this happening? Why do people take too long to decide and to act? Maybe people don’t feel empowered to act. Maybe they feel they cannot make well-informed decisions. Or maybe they just don’t want to take the fall if something goes wrong. Because something always goes wrong in the Philippines, doesn’t it? Everything, even private companies, take bureaucracy to a whole new level. It took me ages to get my loan approved. And when the bank overpaid, it took a year and a half to get the management to acknowledge my overpayment. As the Eraserheads song goes, “Slow…. it hurts so fine…slow I’m killin time.”  So tagal!

Don’t get me wrong. People do pay attention when disasters strike. But only while it’s trending. When it’s fashionable to post something about it on FB. And then things go back to how they were, the default, the status quo. Whenever I go home, I pray that nothing bad happens to me. By that, I mean no man-made or natural disasters. Of course, I pray for the same thing anywhere else but most especially back home, where risk management is unheard of and life is cheap. Because I am well aware that there is no way I can make a whole society high  (low?) on rush act any faster, even if lives are at stake. It just cannot be helped. People don’t seem to understand (or care) that some things are a race against time: Finding survivors buried under the rubble. Finding missing people.  Things run on slow motion – that is a fact of life. Actions and reactions too little, too late. The whole country lives and breathes rush, turning the wholeplace into a black hole of Filipino time exhibiting such a strong []pull that no particle can escape it. If you honk, if you complain, you *are* the asshole. You don’t like how do things here?asks the bigwig sitting behind the counter of some government agency. Then fuck off. Might as well depend on a rugby boy to save your life.

I’m not saying we must all collectively take cocaine through the vein ( figuratively ). It’s probably not even sustainable. But I believe it is possible to be proactive at something if we really will it. Look at the politicians preparing for Election 2016! It’s impressive! Because as a country, don’t you agree it’s about time we grow up, get off rush and get our shit together? We’re not college students anymore.

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2 comments on “The country on rush

  1. dennis
    June 3, 2015

    Galeeeeng… that’s all I can say… lol seriously, you hit it once again.. getting a business registration or a mayor’s permit doesn’t really require a site inspection from any Bureau of Fire staff.. and that is the usual norm in most city hall i know.. They will; just tell you this ” ano pupuntahan pa ba natin yung shop mo? maabala ka pa.. Bayaran mo na lang ito para makuha mo na permit”… lol, at kahit sabihin mo pang ” sige po bisitahin nyo ng malamn ko kung ano kulang ko” sasabihin nila.. “bili ka n lang sa amin ng fire extinguisher ok na yun.. damn..

    • ikalwewe
      July 21, 2015

      Thank you Dennis for your comment. Sorry I totally overlooked it. Frustration ng bawat Pinoy yan. Reactive. iimbestigahan lang ang corruption pag may casualty na. Kailangan pa ba natin mamatayan muna? Pano kung pamilya naten un? Or tayo? Huli na. 😦

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