Community + Youth + Government = Effective Force in Disaster Risk Prevention

Pen photo via Wikimedia Commons, typhoon graphic via PAGASA
Pen photo via Wikimedia Commons, typhoon graphic via PAGASA
This essay won first place winner in the 12th Sural Essay Writing Contest of the 19th University of the Philippines Harong Academic Festival.

by Pauline Joy D. Perdon
Goa National High School

“We should act in a way humanity is to survive”
-Albert Einstein

In this era of service robots and superscientific gadgetry, we, human beings, tend to believe that we have completely controlled our environment. We think of ourselves as little gods who have achieved the impossible – we have processed test tube babies, altered weather conditions, developed space stations, and even explored other planets. Yet, despite these new sets of technological forces, the world is undeniably suffering from a cancer, which cannot be cured by even the most advanced technology. This cancer which has taken too many lives, ruined too many properties, and created too many chaos – the so-called climate change – is a horrifying reality that seems to be incurable and unstoppable.

No person and no place on earth is exempted from its madness. Look around us – from the islands of Caribbean to the islands of Indian Ocean, its impact is clearly seen in the growing sea level. See how the mountainous regions of Himalayas and Andes change to flat surfaces. In the Arctic, communities grapple in the melting polar ice caps. In the vast savannah of Africa, people have suffered from hunger and dryness. In the rivers of Ganges, Amazon, and Nile, communities have drowned. Nor can we forget Mexico and West America, the places that confront hurricanes. And, not to go too far, we can look around the Philippines right now.

The Philippines is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and sits by the world’s most effective typhoon generator – the warm ocean of the Northwest Pacific. Having this kind of geography, our country has become a hotbed of disasters and calamities, such as earthquakes and supertyphoons.

Perhaps, the perfect example for this is the historical category – supertyphoon Haiyan. For once it was not a metaphor, but today it is a reality. It was a perfect typhoon when it comes to its size, symmetry, and eye. It is said to be the strongest typhoon ever to hit land. With a wind speed of 300 kilometers per hour, Haiyan has created a 16-foot storm surge, enough to swipe the whole Tacloban City. The sad reality, however, is that as the long road to recovery begins, another typhoon is brewing in the warm waters of West Pacific, to be followed by another, and another, and another.

Now, will this ever come to an end?

No. Disasters are natural, but, we have the power to mitigate and prevent its risks. We, the community, the youth and the government, are the vital forces which will drive away these unstoppable scientific problems. We were all taught by typhoon Haiyan, we are all shook by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol, and we are all called to stop this madness from happening again.

The community – no, let me rephrase, the resilient community is an important tool in disaster risk prevention. A community that is most well-prepared has least risks to face. Carrying out simple activities such as clean-up drives, tree planting, reforestation, and disaster risk prevention seminars in a community can become helpful weapons if disasters come. Instead of preparing for floods and making a boat, a community must start something that can actually prevent it from happening.

The youth, as the next inhibitors of the planet Earth, has the greatest responsibility in taking care of it. As future leaders of this nation, they must now be acting to change the course of tomorrow. We are in serious danger, so we must act bigger now. Instead of creating and inventing more machines, we must plant an effective carbon neutralizer. It is indicated in Article 10121, that the youth must be a part of disaster risk prevention. Whether we like it or not, we are part of the force that can fight the growing effects of climate change. We have brilliant minds that can create a better place to live in, for our children and grandchildren’s children.

The government, being the one who provide the funds for disaster risk prevention, is also a driving force for making it effective. They have the responsibility to warn and secure people. They must create projects that will secure the safety of the community. They must provide fund and distribute properly to the ones who are affected by the disasters. They should lead – after all, it is their job.

A resilient community, youth with brilliant minds and a good government is equal to a force way better than Justice League or the Avengers. So what if we are battered by strong typhoons? So what if we are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire? If we all come as one, there will be no Haiyan part two, or another 7.2 magnitude earthquake. We can be safe in the arms of one another.

We are the reason for this havoc, and we are also the solution of it. Community plus youth plus government is equal to an effective force in disaster risk prevention.

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