Bayanihan is a fundamental aspect of the Filipino culture of working together as a community to achieve a common goal.
It is quite refreshing to see the Filipinos’ spirit of bayanihan demonstrated during times of calamities — such as during the on-going eruption of Taal Volcano. Reaching out to help and being united in the rescuing efforts — all geared towards a common goal of alleviating a fellow being who is suffering.
To witness such acts of kindness unfold is deeply touching. Humbling. Gratifying. It helps bring back one’s faith in humanity. In the Filipino people.
However, there’s a part of me that’s a bit skeptical. And I’m sure to be labelled as a ‘basher.’
Despite the good things that are coming out of this tragedy, I’m wary that history is bound to repeat itself — if it becomes business as usual and no drastic change takes place.
Taal. A Volcano. Not A Tourist Destination.
I’m wary, and I wouldn’t be surprised that one day, someday down the history of this country, there will be a similar devastation resulting from Taal’s eruption.
The same relocation. The same loss of livelihoods, and as with previous Taal eruptions, lives lost.
What we’re experiencing and witnessing now in 2020 has already taken place in 1977. 1965. 1911. 1754.
Despite the area being a PERMANENT DANGER ZONE, despite lives and livelihoods lost in previous eruptions, people have continued to come back and take up residence and create livelihoods right on the volcano island — at the very foot of Taal, the second most active volcano in the country and considered to be one of the ‘deadliest!’
Why, one might ask? Two factors, in my opinion.
• The Filipino’s fatalistic attitude. Que Sera Sera; and
The teachings of Christianity and the Catholic Church have strongly influenced the Filipinos’ belief system leading to the Filipinos’ fatalistic and ‘bahala na’ que sera sera attitude. The belief that one does not have any control at all over their future and leaves it instead to fate or God who has the ultimate and sole power and control over everything. Que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be. “Hindi tayo pababayaan ng Diyos.” [God Almighty will not forsake us.] “Ipagapasa-Diyos natin ang lahat.” [Let’s leave everything up to God.]
With this belief, the average Filipino is inclined to think that, no matter how dangerous it may be to take up residence, he will leave everything up to God who he believes will look after him, save him and not forsake him — wherever he may be, no matter how dangerous a place may be.
This belief that someone outside of one’s self has ultimate and sole power and authority over one’s life and destiny is deeply ingrained in the Filipino psyche. It is at the root of Christianity’s teachings, a major inheritance of the Filipinos from the Spaniards whose 300-year reign began in 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan landed on and discovered the islands of the Philippines. A regime that practically destroyed this country’s indigenous beliefs and traditions to its core. Christianity has dominated the archipelago leaving the Filipinos indoctrinated with the Catholic Church’s teachings — some [many?] of which are falsehoods and quite misleading.
I’m concerned that with all the assistance and rescuing efforts towards those who have been displaced by Taal’s eruption, particularly the [former] residents of the volcano island, the belief that God Almighty indeed never forsakes the Filipino will only be reinforced. Hence, the Filipino may eventually find his way again back to the same place which has caused severe and traumatic disruption in his life.
I will sound insensitive, but are we really helping those who have lost their homes [at least those who have taken up residence on the island] or are we perpetuating bad behavior and unhealthy thought patterns?
This, I believe is also why the Filipino has chosen to stay and establish a livelihood in a place that’s already known to be a permanent danger zone. After all, the thriving tourism industry in the area is well worth the risk, eh? [And isn’t that how the tourism industry has functioned? Generating revenues has become its primary, if not the sole focus. And yes, at the expense of the ecological imbalance and harm to Mother Nature.]
Whoever came up with and allowed the idea of developing a resort on the volcano island, offering as a tourist attraction and source of income the opportunity to “trek” up the crater of Taal Volcano should be ashamed of themselves!
Such an activity never attracted me. I cringe thinking how the tourists are able to satisfy their curiosity and selfish whim and the locals making money out of it —- at the expense of tiring out the poor horses who have to carry them along the 2-kilometer trail! I just can’t relate with the satisfaction one gets upon reaching the crater. For what?
And maybe it’s just me. (What else is new, eh?)
Why can we not admire Taal’s magnificence — even just at a distance? Why can we not be content with appreciating her grandiosity just by merely looking at her from the ridge where the view is breath-taking? Why can that not be enough, eh?
Of course, it is humanity’s greed, our misguided and insatiable desire and hunger for materialism that’s the driving force, what else? Finding a way on how to make money out of the beauty and mystery that is Taal — or any other nature spots for that matter.
And of course, the locals didn’t think of how they would be rescuing the horses later on — all 3,000 of them plus other animals — when relocation [eruption] time comes. Que sera sera, remember? [Whatever will be, will be.]
And of course, they would think of saving human lives first and more than just the animals — as what happened with the evacuation and relocation efforts brought by the on-going eruption. After having benefited and enriched by the horses’ [and other animals’] services, come crisis and crunch time, the animal kingdom is second priority.
That disheartens me.
The display of the Filipinos’ bayanihan spirit may be heart-warming, but I see so much more that’s being revealed by this tragedy. So much more that our country and people — not to mention, government, both local and national —- need to reflect upon and analyze — and take action — to avoid history repeating itself.
If I had a magic wand, I would ban completely anyone from setting foot on the volcano island. Enough of the distress and relocation and rescuing efforts, not to mention expenses.
Bring Taal back to her beginnings and her origin.
Let Taal be how Mother Nature intended her to be. A volcano, not a tourist destination.
That is the drastic change that I’d like to see come out of this tragedy. To see the Filipino and the Philippines learn and grow from this tragedy, as a people and nation.
To see the Philippines’ transformation.
Saturn and Pluto Conjunction in Capricorn.
Speaking of transformation, I also can’t help but see the synchronicity of this devastating occurrence taking place on the 12th of January 2020 when Saturn and Pluto formed an exact conjunction in the sign of Capricorn.
“The last time Saturn and Pluto met in the sign of Capricorn was 500 years ago, when Martin Luther was protesting the corruption and control of the Roman Catholic Church!”
I’m not an astrology expert but with some basic knowledge and research, I’m feeling hopeful that change may indeed be in the horizon.
Pluto is the planet of transformation. As one article puts it, it means getting “rid of whatever is keeping us stuck in an old groove.”
“Saturn’s field of influence have traditionally included regeneration, rebirth, agriculture, wealth, and abundance.”
Capricorn is the sign associated with stability and structure and is ruled by the planet Saturn.
It seems this astrological placement is challenging the stability of current [and past] structures.
“Saturn-Pluto reflects a lesson about the right use of power, so this cycle is also associated with corruption and abuse…..it also describes the temptation to disregard moral standards and use global resources to satisfy one’s greed. Sooner or later, corruption is exposed, for Saturn represents the karmic consequences of misaligned actions; however, “later” is more often the case, because exposing corruption can take time.”
As I wrote earlier, Spain’s colonization of the Philippines began with the arrival of Magellan in 1521. Yup. That’s about 500 years ago — the last time when Saturn and Pluto also formed a conjunction in Capricorn.
A most significant heritage of the Philippines from Spain is Christianity which resulted in the Filipino’s fatalism and ‘bahala na’ que sera sera attitude and dependence and unwavering belief in an external authority who has sole power over their lives.
Corruption and abuse of power and misuse of resources — natural especially, with which this country is known to be abundant — have long been associated with the Philippine government.
Is Taal’s eruption, accompanied by the potent celestial alignments, the phenomenon that would rock the Philippines’ centuries-old beliefs and practices?
Well, quite possibly.
A couple of days following Taal’s first emission on January 12, during a radio interview, PHIVOLCS [Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology] Head Renato Solidum mentioned that what he would be saying may be controversial — and unpopular. He reiterated that the volcanic island has been declared a national park and permanent danger zone way back in the 60s. If it were up to him, he’d rather that the island continue to just be a national park and be kept off-limits to permanent settlers.
Now, that sounded promising, eh? Of course, that entails strict enforcement of the already-existing prohibition — which is one of the weaknesses of this country. That also means giving up tourism revenues.
Is the Philippines ready and willing for such a [drastic] change?
Similarly, Solidum’s stance was reiterated by Defense Secretary and NDRMMC [National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council] Chairperson Delfin Lorenzana who “suggested that the Taal island be declared ‘no man’s land” and which was subsequently approved by Philippines President Duterte.”
Yeah! One of the current administration’s rare decisions which makes total sense.
Of course, I can only hope that the president doesn’t renege on his decision — as he has done repeatedly.
If I were to wave my magic wand again, as I wrote earlier, I’d rather let Taal be how Mother Nature intended her to be. A volcano, not a tourist destination.
Times like this, I can only heave a deep sigh and give myself permission to proclaim what we inherited from La España — Que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be.
I’m an eternal optimist, though. Something good will come out of it. Something good must come out of this.
I hope. I pray.
I can only hope and pray.
I pray for you, Taal. I pray for you to go back to how Mother Nature intended you to be.
A volcano, not a tourist destination.