Saturday, July 5, 2008

8/11: My Cry

This is a repost from my Friendster blog.

I wrote this article when my beloved hometown - the island of Guimaras was struck with the worst oil spill in Philippine history. This article was subsequently published in some national newspapers, reposted on various websites and blogs and passed around various egroups.


I will forever be proud of being a Guimarasnon. More than the sweetest mangoes in the world and the most pristine beaches, more than the rich marine resources and endangered species like the turtles and the dugong, I take pride in the warm and resilient people of Guimaras.

I always dream of letting the world know of my beautiful hometown, of reading it the headlines of news papers, and of seeing on TV. But I never thought that this dream would turn into a nightmare. Finally, we are on the news. In fact, we are the news. We finally have a place in the history of this country – for having one of the worst (or the worst, incase the remaining oil would leak out) oil spill in the country.

I cried when I heard the news. I am not sure if I cried because of the oil spill and its effects, or because of how everyone reacted (or their silence). It’s sad when some would worry about the possibility of the spill reaching Boracay, when they have a disaster in front of them. It’s sad to know that our Coast Guard does not have the capabilities to respond to these emergencies. It’s sad to know that it would take more than a week for our national government to respond, only to say this is more than we can handle.

It’s sad to know that this oil spill is partly caused by an incompetent ship captain – causing damage to an island where some people are successful sea farers abroad. And it is sad for Petron to say that technically it is the responsibility of shipping company to clean up the mess. It sounded as if the people of Guimaras owe it to Petron for helping in the clean up of this mess. They are willing to share in the profits, but we owe it to them when they respond to the consequences of their negligence.

And the saddest story of all, after a few weeks of publicity, the world will forget the story of Guimaras. And we will forget whatever lessons we have learned from this tragedy – despite the fact that we have to pay a very high price to learn this lesson. Will the people of Guimaras get justice? Will we pass legislations to ensure that this never happen again? The future is darker than the oil spilled on the beaches of this island.

What is for sure is that the affected communities will definitely suffer for years – from lost livelihood to health problems, and for a home ravaged to point where it never will be where it was once. We are a happy people in a poor province. We see our roads paved one kilometer every election year, if we’re lucky. We have a barangay that does not have a budget, and thus no health center, no day care and other social services. We have seen our lands and beaches sold to foreigners. But we will always have hope, and we will remain to be just like our mangoes – the sweetest in the world.

I cried. But that’s not the end of it.

Froilan Grate

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...