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UPAK - United Pinoy Association in Korea
issue 8
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For whom the bells toll?...They toll for you!

     IN SOUTHERN LEYTE and Surigao, the bells have continuously tolled for the past few days, signaling the death of so many people. The news of this tragedy has reached even the head of the Catholic Church Pope John Paul II who immediately sent his message and prayers for those unfortunate victims. Finger-0pointing has started. A government officer pointed out that heavy rains, severe deforestation and the mountain terrain were to be blamed for the fatal mudslides. She added that heavy deforestation reduced the capacity of the land to hold water. She recalled that before the deforestation of the area, there was no problem of flooding or landslides.

     Twelve years ago when a similar tragic event killed 8,000 people happened in Ormoc, a friend of mine ask me how can a loving God allow such horrifying accident to occur. I answered by saying, "Let's not blame God for things people are responsible of. For if the government and its people specially loggers rape and abuse Mother Nature, tragedies like this will reur over and over again."

      The victims may be less in number now but pictures of people being dug out of the mud and the extreme sadness shown on the faces of their kin cannot but deeply touch us just for saying those words 12 years ago and not doing anything about it. Like what I did and did not do several years ago, government authorities will again issue statements and warnings on the possibility of more disasters occuring because of the deforestation of mountains and watersheds. These happened I recall in 1991 when I read in newspapers that Leyte governor, leopoldo Petilla, said illegal logging was largely to blame for the calamity in Ormoc. Emilio Osmena, the governor of Cebu province, agreed while Senator Aquilino Pimentel was so angry that he wanted to lead rallies against illegal loggers who continued to denude the country's remaining forests. All these came to pass and became forgotten. I am sure with the elections coming there will again be cries for investigations and clamor for heads to roll. Once more reforestation programs will be announced and started. A complete log ban policy will, once more, be suggested and debated. Intensive drives against illegal loggers will be pearheaded by government officials. And the usual political posturing such as people power will be done to defuse the anger of a nation hurt and traumatized by the gruesome scenes on TV and newspapers.

     Hopefully, something good will result from the aboved-mentioned actions. However, to be sure that these deaths do not recur, we should no longer be watchers of hat others are saying or doing. We should no longer wait for government to do it for us. As the late U.S. President Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." OFWs can  now start looking deeply into themselves and find the courage and strenght to commit to their country that this will never happen again. That you will do your utmost that no Filipino will again be buried under and killed by a landslide. Because everytime a bell tolls due to Death's visit, it touches everyone of us.

     Lastly, as 2003 ends, may all of us have a properous and peaceful new year!!

Seoul Office:

3rd Fl. Hanggang Plaza Bldg., 74-14 Noyu-dong Kwangjin-gu Seoul, Korea

Tel. No. 82 (02) 462 3575, 3585, 5083, 5084

Fax No. 82 (02) 462 3875

Manila Office:

3rd Fl. Expocraft Bldg. 1008 Metropolitan Ave. Brgy. San Antonio, Makati City, Philippines

Tel : 63 (02) 898 3395, 3472 / 896 8709 / 897 1387, 1407

Fax : 63 (02) 898 3397