DIY (do it yourself) | Inquirer Opinion

DIY (do it yourself)

12:30 AM August 04, 2023

It has been a rainy two weeks. After all the warnings about El Niño upon us, rains during the onset of a rainy season should be more than welcome. They are, actually, on the overall. Residents of Metro Manila had already been warned about water rationing about a month ago. Three weeks later, several dams in Luzon had released some water as a preventive measure. One thing for sure, though, is that a few more weeks of rain will make our dams overflow.

What a sad choice we have before us. Unusual heat and the high probability of drought during El Niño or storms, rains, and floods. It seems that our once tropical paradise is fast fading to become a memory. Several typhoon-proof areas in Mindanao and Palawan have become as vulnerable as the traditional typhoon-prone provinces. And the Philippines has not had a really terrible El Niño for quite some time (thankfully).

Maybe that is what paradise means today – that our worst climatic problems are not as bad as others. Sad, too, when we have not invested heavily in the mitigation of our worst weather patterns and propensities for volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Instead, we can rightly point out that wanton property use and development have actually made us more susceptible to the worst impact of natural calamities.

Consequently, we suffer when it is hot and dry just as much when it is raining, even without earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Not all of us, though, I must admit, just the vast majority. Because those who have enough for many generations down the line do spend so much to be heat proof and typhoon-and-flood-proof.


I am thinking of food, again. The intense swings of the pendulum impact first and foremost on our collective ability to grow food. The consequent swings of weather then aggravate the unholy rise of food prices, as well as stoke human greed to exploit supply imbalances among hoarders and smugglers. That is the macro situation. It is not as horrible as the micro experiences of families, the hunger and malnutrition that become daily life visitors who do not wish to leave anymore.

I am not trying to make a political statement, only a very human one. Having voted for Marcos does not prevent hunger or scarcity of the essentials for his voter, just as having voted for Robredo would not have made her voter less vulnerable to the threats of poverty or hunger. The consequences of calamities are largely the same from the point of view of partisan politics, but radically different according to one’s financial position. Again, so sad that those who suffer much more are those who have much less – because the poor and non-rich outnumber the millionaires and billionaires by maybe ten to one.

At this point, too, we cannot focus on who is to blame. We already know who are to blame. Who can cause such damage are obvious – only those with power and wealth. The victims share part of the blame as well. Their superior numbers are a great equalizer and can be translated to power and wealth, too. Unfortunately, they do not know that, and will hardly move in that direction until the last ounce of suffering breaks the back of resignation and submission.

Even if the majority of Filipinos will become more demanding, not really from aggression or rebellion but from too much pain, power and wealth will not just cave in. The military and police institutions usually follow the dictates of power and wealth. History tells us that few revolutions win, that suffering can go on for centuries before suffering victims find the vision and leadership to challenge the status quo and win.


The same history will tell us that those in power and in possession of great wealth are laggards in the reform department, if at all. The chances are that they will resist as much as they can, until they cannot anymore – and then move reluctantly and slowly. Of course, there is also the reality (and not just the possibility) of meaningful change being initiated by members of the ruling class. However, history again will tell us that the chances of success of a few do-gooders among the powerful and wealthy are slim, and will take time.

Time, though, is equivalent to pain for the suffering. They must still find ways and mean to shorten the time of change and lessen the intensity of pain. It is resignation that opens the door of submission, and submission that extends the tenure of suffering from decades to centuries. We must find that silver lining, or look for it actively. And I believe we can do that well enough by taking a hard and frontal look at the root causes of our fears and suffering.


For many, if not most, Filipinos, the root cause is really less the scarcity of resources that severely limits their options or opportunities than the lack of capacity to produce even the basic requirements of life. Scarcity means lack of availability, and availability can be increased when we produce more than we are used to doing. Lack of supply can be mitigated by increasing our capability to produce what we need.

It is not just growing our food because we are not all farmers. It is growing our capacity to produce essential goods and services, starting from the simplest ones. In the context of community, this usually means bartering our products and services among ourselves so we lessen the need for money to buy the same goods and services. Because if we do not start to produce what we need, then we will need to ask, we will need to beg, and naturally, we will need to pay with obedience since we do not have enough money.

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No path is a shortcut for almost all of us. Jackpots are for one in a million; deliberate, intelligent, hard work is for nine hundred thousand nine hundred ninety-nine in one million.

TAGS: do-it-yourself, Glimpses

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