We joke. We say politics is an amalgam of two words. The first is ‘poli’ which is Greek for ‘many,’ and the second is ‘tics’ which are tiny blood-sucking insects. But do the people laugh? Some of them. Most don’t have time for bullshit jokes. Life, man. They are too busy living their lives. Too caught up with the world to listen to commentators of politics and politicians.
Mar Roxas’ smiling visage graced the cover of Esquire Philippines Magazine. Many people on Facebook and Twitter were offended. The man did nothing, or at least very little for the efforts at rehabilitation of Samar and Leyte post-Haiyan, they said. Eight thousand people dead and here’s the DILG Secretary posing with a jeepney loaded with planks at the background, a huge grin on his face.
It took days to clear the roads leading to the city. By then, the bodies have already started to smell. The stench of the dead permeated the world, and lingered at night when people tried to sleep. When the food trucks finally came, and people tried to cook their food, tried to eat the food, they had to eat it in that unpleasant miasma. There were too many bodies, there weren’t enough people yet to bury the dead. There weren’t enough shovels, equipments like wheelbarrows, and vehicles, for the dead to be given proper burials. So those that were retrieved from the depths of the mud were laid on the side of the highway, covered with tarpaulins bearing the face of some politician, or banana leaves, slowly bloating underneath the heat of the sun.
The government’s answer to the disaster was to dump this whole bureaucracy atop the ruined buildings and lives. The public witnessed the bungling that occurred. Several warehouses filled with rotting food donated from Western countries. Officials on the ground supposedly stocking some for themselves and selling them. A check on the housing program showed that the houses were unsuitable for human habitation. The bickerings by local and national politicians was broadcast country-wide hours and days following the disaster relief efforts. The disagreements continue to this day, a year after the devastation.
The people interviewed look tired. Some of them shed tears as they lit candles for their loved ones who passed away. One woman survived with her infant child, but her husband died during the massive storm surge. She was given a sari-sari store. Another was not so lucky. His entire family was gone. He managed to hang on to one of the top branches of a tall tree. He watched as his mother and father and siblings were swept away by the water.
Even the most brutal storm to hit the Earth have not washed away the shamelessness of some government officials. Not to say the celebrities. Weeks after the disaster, the First Sister, Kris Aquino, visited the people of the devastated city. On top of her truck, she waved and smiled, and gave interviews. Several actors and actresses followed suit, giving packs of food to people. The plastic bags and shirts and back packs filled with goodies were imprinted with the name of this show business corporation, or that politician.
Many ticks, many bloodsuckers.