Seven years ago friend Kei and I flew to Cebu and Bohol from weeks of teaching in Coron, Palawan together with the volunteer group called Pahinungod. The plan was to unwind and see how other people live their lives in other parts of the Philippines, and of course, start combing the famous tourist spots of the country while we’re young.
She was with her trusty camera and an itinerary for us; Friendster was the social network that time, but upon our return I posted the photos on our Los Baños apartment wall: printed photos, real wall.
The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit these provinces sent waves of collective grief from all over the country for the victims, with almost everyone posting online their pictures and romantic memories of Bohol and Cebu. This is a welcome thought. With mass transit, thanks to cheap flights and bustling tourism industry, more people empathize with those who lost their homes, roads, leisure buildings, and places of worship, because they feel these are their own–their memories, their churches, their chocolate hills.
Sentimentality aside, vigilance needs to come side by side sorrow. Some lawmakers are now looking at tapping the controversial pork barrel funds, which are susceptible to corruption (story here). The government is to foot the bill in restoring heritage sites such as the Catholic churches that crumbled (without knowing how much the restoration will cost), while news says a number of towns are yet to receive help from the government; people from the town of Danao, for instance, are still begging for food and medicine since their place can’t be reached due to fragmented roads.
Let’s hope help is not only prioritized or given to what’s famous on social networks. Chocolate hills and churches were torn, crumbled; but let’s also remember that there are quiet lives in Bohol, devastated by the quake, untouched by the tourism industry nor government aid.
for the sweet people of Bohol and the rest of distressed Visayas