Monday, February 20, 2006

It always goes down hill.

When last we met:

Not to worry. No one was there on the way out. Homeward bound we went. I was really happy and content. S.O's friends dropped us off and I was looking forward to a night of sweet bliss with S.O.

Then my cell phone went off................

No good day goes unpunished and that day was no exception. After having had a nice day, expecting a nice night, the phone was ringing to tell me to expect some major diversions to our nice little airlift schedule due to USS Essex and USS Harpers Ferry being tasked with mudslide relief.

As disasters so often do, it could not have picked a worse time. No problem, just use your "excess capacity".........

Excess capacity? There is none. Despite a rather large airlift establishment, the United States Navy is still heavily dependent on the other services and more importantly commercial aviation which unlike the Air Force offers a better price and a better on time rate. Problem is all of that market is focused in the other direction from Japan and prolonged operations where they are in the PI will mean some diversion of military air. When will have to be determined, once the folks on the scene can get an idea of how bad things are and exactly what they can do. Add to that, there is this little issue of the war(s) which continue to issue forth its own demands on material that wait for no one.

Just like during the Tsunami.

So it was back into work for a while to review the bidding. Then home to an already asleep S.O. Damn! That was not what I had in mind and I was too tired to persue anything else........Guess its a couple of 12 oz sleeping pills and hope for a pre-breakfast rendevous in the morning. Also known in the venacular as a "Mooner".....

I have to confess that I had not really been following the news of the disaster that closely. After all, as Madame Chiang points out there is always some kind of disaster going on in the Philippines:

The news today has been dominated by the landslide on the island of Leyte..I use the word "dominated" very loosely. For a tragedy of this size the news coverage (at least in print) has been almost minimalist...I can't help feeling that anywhere else the newspapers coverage would be slightly different if a magnitude of this disaster had occurred instead of (as in most cases) about 50-75% of the front page and then a few pages further into the paper....elsewhere, coverage would have been the whole front page and then the majority of the pages inside particularly the first few pages of the paper.

When the Ultra stampede happened my colleagues raised an eyebrow and generally implied that, ok, this was a slightly different tragedy to befall the country but these sort of things are to be expected in the Philippines . When I saw the breaking news on the BBC yesterday afternoon about the landslide I told my colleagues in the office their response? "Again?" and then carried on talking about what they were going to do at the weekend.I am fairly sure they are not being cold hearted and un-feeling...just accepting..I am finding it hard to comprehend that just down the road, (as it were) there are somewhere between 1,500- 2,000 people lying buried in mud; including a school which was at the time, filled with an estimated 200 children.

The disaster has so far been blamed on a combination of heavy rains and logging. Man and Mother Nature struggling against each other.....as they do so often in this country.The Philippines is a particularly unfortunate country, almost every year brings natural disasters on a devastating scale..ranging from floods to typhoons to volcanic eruptions to landslides, with the odd earthquake for variety. Add to this the man-made problems: politics, population control and pollution (to name just three) and for an outsider such as I am.... the country is a ticking time bomb in serious need of someone to sort out the challenges it faces.---From her blog.




Business as usual for the Philippines. Situation normal, all F**ked up. Now there are lots of reasons for it: a poor economy, corrupt government, cronyism, and as Madame and I have discussed before, far too many of its best and brightest, gone from the country; a Philippine Diaspora that is way too large. Could it be that all the best and brightest are all somewhere else making the living their own country cannot give them?

Thus as a result, the home guard has become apathetic simply waiting for the money and the goods to arrive from overseas. A globalized welfare state.

Which to tell the truth, is hard for me to understand. The Filipinos I have met and know are for the most part, very talented people. They have to be to live as many places as they do, learn as many foreign languages as quickly as they do, and do the diverse types of work they do. One would think that all of that energy could be channeled into making it a competitive power house. A comptetitor for India or other nations even. Instead though the Philippines limps along, divided among itself, and leaving the rest of the world to wonder if anyone can govern it. In the meantime those with money ( and or hormones) enjoy other pursuits in the land that is just, "not quite right."

Madame Chiang, thinks that the Philippines needs a strong authority figure like Lee Kuan Yew who can wrap up his dictatorial strong rule in ther trappings of democracy. I don't think a repeat of Singapore's experience is possible in a nation that has as many Catholics as the PI does. They have had strong leaders before who have become corrupted. And the cultures are vastly different. The American tie and influence is still strong there and if the Philippines had a strong middle class, I would like to think it would not be as "lobotomized" as Singapore's is. However the good Madame is right, something different needs to be done.

And sadly, as Spike pointed out six months ago, that won't come from Gloria Arroyo........

No matter what, it should be a busy week.


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