Away from the focal point

by Jhesset Thrina Enano

 

It was somewhat like déjà vu: the continuous heavy downpour of rain that resulted to the alarming rise of rivers and rush of floodwaters that quickly invaded homes. Thousands of Filipinos were once again displaced, huddled in basketball courts and public schools that were immediately turned to evacuation centers.

For many, it was like reliving an old nightmare. When Typhoon Ondoy struck in 2009, a lot of people thought that it would not happen again – at least not that soon. But it only took three years for the same tragedy to strike again, albeit this time, in the form of a monsoon.

During the past week, it is worth mentioning that flooding was not just out in the streets – it was also in the Internet. The Filipino community online was abuzz with posts, tweets, hashtags and even memes, flooding everyone’s Facebook newsfeed and Twitter dashboard during the past nights.

May it be related to suspension of classes or to rescue and relief operations, it can be observed that netizens were still able to inject humor, creativity and resourcefulness despite the dismal situation. Evidences of our resiliency as a nation were all over the Internet, making people feel that they are not alone in this battle.

However, the posts related to the calamity were not all positive and for a good cause. As the rain poured harder on August 7, some netizens also spread posts and pictures of the supposed connection of the current situation to the biblical passage Genesis 8:7-12 that pertains to Noah and The Great Flood. Though the similarity of the date and the passage is a mere coincidence, many began to interpret this as a “sign” from God.

Others also attributed the coincidence to the passage of the Reproductive Health bill in Congress. Some tweets and posts from those against the bill stated that the calamity must be God’s punishment to the Filipino people. These posts propagated unnecessary fear and false thought to many netizens who then jumped into their own conclusions.

These might be the biggest differences from our experiences from Ondoy; this time, we are more prepared, more alert and more equipped to help out even in our own little ways. The immense power of the Internet could just not be neglected any longer.

However, because of posts that meant to mislead or cause unnecessary debate, many Filipinos had been obviously sidetracked. Many have seemed to lose focus on the pressing issues in connection with the calamity, such as the causes behind the flooding and the action that the government was supposed to be doing. When there should have been so much to do to help out our countrymen, we were bogged down by seemingly conspiracy posts that try to prove the trivial.

It is not new to Filipinos, or generally to human beings, to always try to find connections and patterns out of everything. After all, it is a necessity to our existence: to always try to put the pieces of the puzzle together to form the solid and bigger picture. However, there is always a right time for everything. On calamities such as this, there is no time to be sidetracked by the trivial for lives are now at stake.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources stated that because of climate change, the heavy rain that we have just experienced is now the new normal. Needless to say, it brings fear to all of us. However, in the long run, we do not have to be victims of calamities, but we need to know what needs our attention and action right here, right now.

Author: TNP

The Official Student Publication of the UP College of Mass Communication.