When the extent of the damage of the earthquakes started appearing in the local news, people here from all walks of life, after assessing their own condition, slowly began organizing small-scale relief contribution drives among themselves, while a few went ahead and proceeded to the affected towns using personal and rented transports. These, even as the city government had already launched joint-agency relief and rescue missions of its own, along with a general call for donations from the public.
I also know of several student organizations, small religious clubs and employees’ groups from different universities with first-hand information of the quakes’ impact through their own families in the stricken areas, that immediately started their own solicitations (including house to-house visits). All these, so they could immediately go to the sites and provide food, water and clothing to both kin and the reportedly growing number of evacuees.
During the second day, as our personal contribution, we brought boxes of noodle packets and medicines, along with a suitcase of clothes to the university, where a group was scheduled to depart early the next day (we missed the first trip). Our contact’s family, along with many members of the community were presently encamped in one of the evacuation areas somewhere in Makilala. The next day, we bought another box of groceries and items of personal hygiene for pick-up, intended for North Cotabato.
All these replicated efforts by city residents and people from neighboring provinces had been made possible through social media’s back roads and via Messenger. As everyone may have noticed, its main highways had been clogged with nothing but senseless earthquake predictions, religious calls for repentance, threats of retribution, Quiboloy’s pronouncements, and lastly, hate messages directed at the people of Davao and Mindanao as a whole, wishing that we be eaten up by the earth. Also include a proliferation of negative outputs from large media outfits like GMA, who insist on government’s slow response, despite the presence of several agencies like DSWD, and other disaster brigades that had already set up centers in the areas. Instead of helping to facilitate how assistance could be made more accessible, these media giants have instead chosen to churn out their brand of disinformation despite these dire times.
I am at once hearing Imagine Dragons singing “welcome to the new age, to the new age…” because truly, people’s brains have truly gone fried and radioactive.
Meanwhile in extreme counterpoint, if we turn to them back roads again, one would hear of three truckloads that left two days ago from Los Baños to bring relief goods to the evacuation areas. Also, reported assistance coming from Iloilo in the Visayas, is on its way. Lastly, I read of psychology students organizing their classes into action and taking donations of crayons and paper so that on their volunteer visit to the calamity sites, they could immediately conduct workshops and sessions to de-stress the children among the victims and ease their trauma.
While the disgusting shriek of outliers who have lost all relevance, project their hate and delight in seeing the misery of others, the more significant majority works silently without fanfare. What is more important than playing to the hand of malicious evil is that we have our land and our homes to mend, and our people to tend to, with the help of the rest of our country.
As such, these minority of elite-thinkers with supposed-christian backgrounds and high education are likened to strays mentioned in an old Arabic proverb, and the saying rings so true during this shameful moment of schadenfreude in a time of tragedy.
“The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”