As typhoon Rosita, internationally known as Typhoon Yutu, approaches the Philippine shores, the entire nation braces for its impact. This is, after all, not the first time the Philippines has experienced typhoons of alarming magnitude — far from it, we have survived through typhoon after typhoon, year after year, and emerged resilient every time.
Resilience — in the midst of typhoon season, the word is thrown around in almost casual liberalness, perhaps most particularly on social media. More often than not, captions bearing the very word are accompanied by photos of smiling Filipinos, more often than not children, more often than not living in the fringes of poverty.
It is touching, for those of us who see such posts, to see smiling faces in the midst of calamity, their very resilience of surviving and overcoming disasters an inspiration to us all — a modern fairytale, almost, in the midst of trying times. Indeed, such has been the spirit of resilience that it has been branded as a trademark of the Filipino spirit. That a nation so accustomed — so capable — of handling and surviving everything from typhoons to earthquakes and everything in between manages to come out smiling truly is an admirable hallmark of the Filipino culture. Wide smiles while waist deep in water, the Filipino spirit is unbreakable one that knows no bounds, come wind, rain, or water.
THE FILIPINO SPIRIT: A man submerged in floodwater in Marikina City manages to flash a smile despite his difficult situation. Filipinos are known for their resiliency especially since the country is hit by more than 20 typhoons every year. pic.twitter.com/8232Gj9ANH
- The Philippine Star (@PhilippineStar) 11 August 2018
And, consciously or not, this is a cycle that repeats itself over and over again. The story we tell ourselves of fellow Filipinos surviving through undesirable conditions has become a constant trend of mainstream and social media, that it has become easier not to look past those smiles into the background — literally and figuratively — in the context in which they were taken. In all this, it is those very smiles, perhaps, that makes it remarkably difficult to look the other way. When confronted with stark images of calamity, disaster, and its adverse effects on the people, it is much easier to focus on the happier aspects — fixating on the good amidst all the bad, all in the name of making light of a bad situation, no matter how bad it is.
The Filipino Spirit is Typhoon-Proof & Flood-Proof. We are resilient & strong despite adversity! My prayers are with our Kababayans who are having a difficult time at this hour in flooded areas in Metro Manila. Stay strong, safe & dry. #RescuePH #ReliefPH #PrayForThePhilippines pic.twitter.com/wERR2Sahx3
- Rico Hizon (@RicoHizon) 11 August 2018
And this is all an essentially valid method of coping with difficulties, in that in most cases, it is the only way to move forward. But in the constant highlighting and fixating on merely — solely — the positive aspect of our struggles and those of other Filipinos, we have made experts of our countrymen in the art of survival, in bracing themselves to accept the very worst of conditions as normal. That is, surviving through floods, torrential rain, and destructive winds in destitute conditions as a mere routine part of being Filipino, particularly for those less privileged. In the long run, the hard pill to swallow is that this poses even more problems to the development of our nation, in that highlighting and portraying the strength of the Filipinos in positive light fails to shed light to the very problems they face on a constant basis, and effectively, the shortcomings of those responsible in solving them.
An important sequel to this tweet: I genuinely admire the resilience of the Filipino people. No nation on earth is better-acquainted with the awesome power of tropical cyclones. No matter how many times folks in these little villages get knocked down, they get back up again. ❤ https://t.co/knXz57jykK
- Josh Morgerman (@iCyclone) 20 September 2018
In the past, resilience has been the saving grace of the Filipino people, and the ever-constant hope for better days in spite of the mundane reality we are all familiar with and live through everyday. In the calamities that come in the future — which inevitably will come — perhaps it is time we anchor our hope on something more tangible than resilience, and translate that hope into the energy to call on the authorities responsible to take action.
Time and again, our resilience has shaped us into the people we are today, but Filipinos are already experts in resilience, and have long since been so. There is no longer reason to test this, and end in the endless cycle of overcoming, and picking up, and moving on. There may be no limits to our resilience, but there certainly are limits to the people’s well-being. And those very limits are running out day by day.
Originally published at http://www.snippetmedia.com on October 29, 2018.