According to a study conducted by the Brussels-based Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), the Philippines is Mother Nature’s top whipping boy, trumping all other nations on the planet in a “list of countries that are most vulnerable to disasters“. That kind of contradicts the “blessed” place in the heart of the Almighty that we constantly imagine ourselves to be in whenever we emphasise our being the only beacon of Catholicism in a region of infidels and heathen animists.
Consider that, plus looming global “challenges” around sustainable access to safe water supplies and falling rice cultivation yields, and we can appreciate just how vulnerable the Philippines is to catastrophic collapse.
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Firstly, our capability to feed ourselves is dwindling.
We are currently the top importer of rice on the planet. If we are to believe figures indicating that 18 to 25 percent of domestic rice supplies are lost post harvest, a big chunk of the opportunity to save ourselves lies in getting a grip over our pwede-na-yan approaches to doing things. According to a paper written by Professor Prudenciano U. Gordoncillo of the University of the Philippines that, among other things, highlights the above loss statistics…
[…] addressing the efficiency of post-harvest facilities and practices can readily resolve the rice self-sufficiency problem.
Just reducing post-harvest losses by half can potentially wipe out the historic dependence on imports for 10 percent of domestic requirements for the staple.
Are we up to the challenge of achieving operational excellence in supply chain management as far as handling our own food? For a people who traditionally couldn’t even be bothered to take up the use of chopsticks to shove rice grains into our maws (before we learned to do this with spoons), I doubt if such an aspiration can compete with the bigger world of pwede-na-yan mentalities that imprison our minds.
Second, we continue to multiply like cockroaches.
There are 100 million of us now is Inquirer.net columnist Rigoberto Tiglao’s lament. Indeed it is something we can only lament. The continued increase in numbers — to the tune of two million wretched souls a year — of the elements of a society not exactly renowned for an exemplary record of contribution to the intellectual, cultural, and economic capital of human civilisation is absolutely no cause for celebration (not unless you are one of the honchos of the much-revered Roman Catholic Church).
The lucidity of Tiglao’s message is brilliant:
[…] our annual population growth rate from 2005 to 2010 of 1.9 percent is the second highest among the 12 biggest countries in the world, following Nigeria’s 2.3 percent, a country which is practically only moving now to the modern era. Just in case the connection between population and economic growth still isn’t clear, we are followed in this listing by Pakistan, 1.8 percent; Bangladesh, 1.7 percent; and India, 1.5 percent. The Philippines’ fertility rate from 2000 to 2010 was 3.4 percent, higher than any Asian country. Those with higher fertility rates are almost all poor African countries.
It is one of the massive weaknesses of the Philippine state-its failure to provide the means for Filipinos to control their lives by being able to choose in the most important decision in a couple’s life, which is having or not having children.
There is hope, however; and it comes in the form of my allusion to the humble six-legged vermin that infests the average Pinoy household. Cockroaches, as the pop-science factoid goes, are renowned for their “resilience” — supposedly a safe bet for a species to survive the two very plausible forms of catastrophe that could wipe out everything humanity has achieved over the last 2,000 years — (1) environmental collapse and (2) warfare involving extensive use of any form of weapon of mass destruction (e.g. nuclear, chemical, or biological).
The image of the humble cockroach crawling out of the rubble is something Filipinos can latch on to as the defining image of “hope” for their future. Quite convenient today, considering we have a President whose Administration shares a similar defining trait.
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The top headline splashed on the Web site of Fortune reads Is this finally the economic collapse? Arianna Huffington of the venerable Huffingtonpost.com warns that America may be in danger of becoming a Third World nation.
For those who are in the habit of highlighting the woes of the First World presumably to provide “perspective” around the doom that wretched countries like ours face, I provide the above two to spare you all a bit of googling. Knock yourselves out.
The fact remains that while America’s (and for that matter Japan’s) “impending” slide into the Stone Age is relative, any collapse on the part of sorry-ass countries like ours can only be measured in absolute terms. Americans in a depression may suffer from a loss of dollars to finance their purchases of entertainment systems, the latest Apple trinket, or a holiday in Europe. Many Filipinos, on the other hand, make do with only one meal a day even in good times.
Go figure, as the fact of bozoic news reports concerning the President’s definition of “private time” getting splashed all over our premiere broadsheets all but reflects the moronism of our priorities as a people.