Preparing, praying and moving on

Posted by in Life, Outdoors, Travel, Weather

That’s what you do here in the Philippines when facing a typhoon with wind speeds of 200km/hr.
We follow the locals. We watch them looking at the sky and looking at the ocean. We watch and help with preparations, we take everything in which can be taken in, and close off everything that can be closed off.
Then we pray.

Uncontrollable nature
The locals often ask us if there are typhoons in our country. We entertain them with stories of snow, ice, fogged breath and sun that never seems to rise. But no, we have no earthquakes, no typhoons, no tsunamis nor volcanoes. We have it pretty easy (if you consider dark and cold easy). There is also this one other thing we do not seem to have: Acceptance of circumstance.

Stress happens when the mind resists what is.

Oh, how we moan about the weather in our countries! It’s rainy, it’s dark, it’s cold, the sun is too hot. We swear we will relocate elsewhere, somewhere where everything is better. We check weather forecasts several times and day and try to predict things.

Trying to secure boats onto palm trees

Trying to secure boats onto palm trees

Here you are humbled in front of the mighty nature. And even more so, in front of the locals who endure this wild country from one year to another. They stand the chance of losing everything (and often so many of them do), and still they stand united, stay hopeful and light.

News are moving in
Arno wrote about the media last time. Now the media is covering the damage here (which luckily is not like after Yolanda last year) and using words such as ‘terrible‘ and ‘destruction.’

BBC just reported how after the storm people were ‘still without electricity, still without water.’

Undeniably there is so much to be repaired and rebuilt. But being without electricity is not DESTRUCTION here. It’s called a normal Tuesday. For the locals flaky electricity and water lines are pretty much business as usual. This country gets an average of 20 typhoons per year, and it has been the case for centuries. This is nothing new for them.

Take the island of Camiguin, where we live. Electricity was introduced here in the late 1980’s. And still 70% of the household uses firewood and have maybe average  2-3 light bulbs in their tiny houses.

Fishermen are out until the last moment.

Fishermen are out until the last moment.

In the Dutch language we have a word RAMPTOERISME. In English this means Disaster Tourism. Looking at a car crash although you know you should not. Standing in the middle of a track where a typhoon just passed by and reporting how unfortunate the locals are. When the BBC reporter was pointing out the fallen shacks after the storm and explaining how bad the locals have it, what he was pointing at was just normal houses.

What does Tacloban mean?
I bet the whole world knows a city called Tacloban by now. The meaning of this word in Visayan is ‘to cover‘ or ‘to get covered‘. Malapascua (an island that was also badly damaged in last year’s typhoon Hayan) means ‘Unfortunate Christmas‘ in Visayan. So clearly these names get their meaning from historic events well known to locals.

I turned to the global news this morning because I was curious of what typhoon Hagupit did to this country. But all of a sudden I don’t see the point anymore. Surely some helpful aid reaches the needed areas, and of course the media helps in preventive work and evacuation purposes. But most of the reporting just seems pointless. Yes, it rains sideways here, and the waves are big. But we don’t gasp and say OH MY GOD, because it is normal. The fisherman try to catch fish to the last possible moment, then seek shelter until they can go fish again.

I have not yet heard a local complain about the weather in the Philippines.

Not once.