May 24, 2024

As if we have not had enough yet from the numerous problems we face as people and as nation, our discomfort level has increased by several notches more, pressing further into the Filipino’s embattled resilience.
Intense heat has brought a resident in South Cotabato to install water sprinklers on the roof of their house after he initially tried spraying water on it due to the unbearable heat inside their house, which did not have a ceiling. After finding relief from the cooled roof after spraying it with water, the resident decided to place sprinklers on the roof, keeping it on from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Elsewhere, almost 6,000 schools, especially those with children learners, have no recourse but to suspend face-to-face classes and resort temporarily to alternative modes of classes due to extreme heat. This has intensified calls for the Department of Education to speed up the plan to go back to the traditional class opening every June, moved earlier due to the pandemic.
In the Cordillera, more than 7,000 rice and corn farmers are suffering intensely from the prolonged drought, with the corn sector receiving the heaviest blow estimated at almost P450 million loss in production, while the rice sector has more than P33M in damage according to the Department of Agriculture. The number is undoubtedly higher if we count crop losses nationwide.
As the country reels from the effects of the El Niño phenomenon that has brought the heat index in various areas to dangerous levels since the last week of March, we feel not only extreme heat but also the need to call up for more doses of resilience and patience to weather the harshest impacts yet of this natural calamity.
Response should be two-fold.
We call for the government, through the reactivated Task Force El Niño, to continue monitoring the situations and implement short- and long-term measures identified in the Strategic El Niño National Act Plan. This plan should have already been revised and updated for it to be responsive to the current situation which is undoubtedly more serious than the previous bouts of dry spell in the country.
It should prioritize providing assistance to hardest hit sectors – health, education, and food – and make sure it does what needs to be done in order to mitigate the current impacts and come up with proactive measures should this situation happen in the future.
But the responsibility does not rest on the government alone.
We who are directly receiving the blows of El Niño should take part in coming up with ways to overcome this difficult weather condition. We have to be innovative in our ways to counter its effects to be able survive this period, which the Pagasa weather bureau forecasted to last until May.
We have to rise over this challenge, even if we already have a lot on our plate. We continue to strategize against inflation, deal with contentious government programs, health emergencies, the threat of the Big One, as well as the challenges we face in defending our national territory.
But long dry spells are not happening for the first time in the country – only, it is getting worse. Short of pointing fingers on who is to blame, we have to remember man is no match with the wrath of nature.
But again we have no one but ourselves to fault about nature striking back harder than ever, given the multitude of abuses we inflicted on the environment in the name of development and worse, due to sheer recklessness.
The long dry spell that is crippling our health and movements now, not to mention typhoons hitting in unprecedented strengths, health emergencies, flashfloods, and destructive earthquakes, may not be worst yet. Our climate will continue changing adversely, and will keep on returning us the favor if we keep on wantonly disregarding the need to protect nature.
We can keep on praying and hoping to be spared from the threats of calamities, natural or man-made, or count on our time-tested resilience in times of adversities. But we have to change our ways by becoming responsible stewards of nature, else the destructive cycle will just continue.