By JULLIE Y. DAZA
Life is short, no matter how long you’ve lived, no matter how old you are.
The series of terrifying earthquakes that hit a large area of the largest island of Mindanao is just such a reminder. At 20 dead with an unknown number missing, the temptation is strong to compare the similarity of those figures with the 19 (out of 41) farmers who died when their truck fell into a ravine in Apayao, Benguet.
With the aftershocks dwindling in intensity and frequency, amid the pitiful cries of the homeless and the traumatized, the hungry and thirsty, the task now is to reach out to them with cash and goods, quickly now, not later. Prayers are welcome, but for now they urgently need to buy food, water, tents. Thank God for those quick-thinking individuals and groups who immediately, effectively organized mercy missions before worse things happen to the survivors. There are thousands of them, including babies and small children, and they don’t deserve to suffer any more than their elders. That Mindanao is also the farthest island away from the power center of Manila makes delivery of goods just a bit harder and slower, easier to send checks or cash through a trusted civic or philanthropic group. Stop panicking in sympathy with Mindanao, your money is more important to them than your nerves.
Mindanao’s helplessness is our helplessness. At magnitude 7 the main event was followed by aftershocks as strong as 5; those events are telling us in Luzon that we have been warned. Sure, Mindanao is too far away from Luzon to trigger a kindred quake but that’s no reason to be paralyzed by fear. Go check the contents of your Go-bag. Are they still usable, batteries and biscuits, water, etc. Helmets should be top priority, it’s head injuries that are fatal. News photos and TV infomercials should stop showing students using their notebooks and hankies to cover their heads during a drill – wrong example! ridiculous! suicidal!
A few days after Mindanao’s foreshock on Oct. 16, the state of California announced America’s “first earthquake warning system,” a cellphone app called MyShake that can provide “life-saving seconds of warning before the ground starts to shake, enough time to drop, cover and hold.”