That Japan and its people exemplify grace under pressure cannot be denied despite the latest headline that Japan government is losing public trust.
But for one to sing praises to one and spit mockery to another is questionable. True: Japan has the best laid-out disaster management plans. True: Japan has built only disaster-proof (well, almost) infrastructure. True: Japan has trained its people to be prepared at all times and to shun panic at all costs. True: Japan has perfected order in chaos. And yet, and yet.
And come our media and intelligent folks grabbing the microphones and hugging the limelight and writing editorials: if Japan had it almost perfectly planned and still crumble to pieces day by day after Friday's 9.0 earthquake and 40-foot high tsunami, where would that same catastrophe leave this country of corrupt government and careless, garbage-spewing people? Then you rehash news about this country's so-much-to-be-desired infrastructure and how a 7.2 earthquake in Metro Manila would leave hundreds of thousands of people dead and more than a million people homeless and countless of properties and industries destroyed. You paint a scenario a dozen times more horrifying than what Japan faces now. Isn't it enough that people of the world, including Filipinos, feel sincerely sorry for the Japanese and pray for Japan's safety? Is the world still lacking in monsters, you would have to rouse fear among our people?
Each day, about a third of our population faces tragedy worse than death: insane poverty and insurrection. Do you think they are still bothered by earthquakes and tsunamis?
True: when Ondoy struck, anarchy prevailed in some areas wanting food. But most of those who took part in the riot weren't fighting to get ahead in food distribution lines for themselves but for their children, parents, brothers, sisters and friends. They knew there was not enough food for everyone. Lack had forced people to be the fittest to survive.
And there is another truth, despite massive disasters, our people could still manage to smile and laugh and show V-signs for pictures. Waist-deep in the water, our people cracked jokes and poked each other urging those with gloomy countenance to smile. In another culture, laughing and smiling and picture-taking during a tragedy of this magnitude may be considered the height of insensitivity. But not in this country, not in our beloved country. We smile and laugh, thankful and happy for having survived and for being alive. Because, that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger, strong enough to laugh away the tears and fears.
Majority of our people, because they couldn't count on strong economies and sciences and technologies to tide them over, count on the Divine. Simplistic though that seems, this country has survived with the grace of God, saved by prayers of those who live under the bridge, by the creekside, and on the side streets. They are too simplistic to understand new inventions, they rely only on the One Creator.
Every day, being always the last, this country survives the worst. So please, stop the old comparison.
This nation is the strongest because we can look at disaster in the eye and smile.