Out of Touch

Sec. Jun Abaya’s right: he shouldn’t be offering excuses on the state of the MRT. But there’s a difference between offering and making them.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the MRT may not be the rotten deathtrap that many people paint it to be. Maybe people just don’t have the right metaphors for a very uncomfortable form of public transit. There’s always the overcrowded bus on a congested major highway, for example. Or prohibitively expensive taxi cabs. Or one may just consider buying a car.

But here’s thing: Sec. Abaya asks, why would anyone put up with it? Sec. Abaya claims that if ordinary people put up with it, there should be no reason why it’s “bulok.” Sec. Abaya also propounds that if you spruce up the MRT, you can even turn it into a tourist attraction.

There – with all the benefit of the doubt given up to this point – is the problem. A sense of being out of touch.

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This Is Very Black-And-White

These are comments – verbatim – from INQUIRER.net’s coverage of the death of Andrea Rosal’s baby.

“maganda yan para di na maglahi ang mga tulisan mamatay na sana kayong lahat na komunista mga peste ng lipunan”

“Bakit di niyo ipinagamot doon sa Morong 43 na puro medical workers daw. Reklamo kayo ng reklamo na akala mo may utang sa inyo ang gobiyerno. Maraming ibang nagpapagamot sa PHG, kaya dapat lang na unahin yung mga taong sumosuporta sa gobiyerno, hindi yung mga gustong pabagsakin ang gobiyerno”

“Hindi man lang nabinyagan ang sanggol. Kung sa bagay, hindi naman naniniwala ang mga Komunista sa Diyos. Theirs is godless ideology.”

“MABUTI NA IYON PARA MABAWASAN ANG ISA PANG KOMUNISTA PAGLAKI.”

“Maybe it’s God will this child taken away by angels to have a better life in heaven playing and not growing up carrying a rifle as an amazon like her mom and late grandpa. NPA have no one to blame but themselves.”

“Kill all these communists….kill them all.
Kilala naman lahat yan….pakalatkalat….panggulo lang ang mga walang silbi.”

“sinadyang patayin iyan ng sariling ina para may maisisi na naman sa gobyerno ang mga pesteng komunista na iyan.”

Few things disgust me more.

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Misimpressions

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma called it a “misimpression:” whatever he said was not a summary of his position on the ongoing problems the people have with a crowded, frequently malfunctioning MRT. That perhaps includes his position on Metro Manila’s overpopulation and the MRT, that we cannot blame that on general manager Al Vitangcol.

That said: Secretary Coloma himself has a “misimpression” of the problem.

But Coloma is right, on paper: Vitangcol can’t be blamed for the congestion in Metro Manila. However, he can be (and should be) blamed for the problems of the MRT now, precisely because he’s general manager. The minimum expectation for any general manager is for jobs to be done, and done well. The train must be clean, comfortable, safe, and punctual. The fact that the MRT fails on all four of those counts – any regular MRT commuter can attest to that – means that Vitangcol isn’t doing his job.

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Yolanda: Donations

So instead of spreading toxicity over the Internet (which we can do WAY, WAY later, not today, pag may time, so to speak), I’d like to take this time to help get the word out on donations.  There’s already enough awareness spread out there, so it’s time we ramp it up and donate.  And donate smartly.

If you haven’t donated yet to help out those affected by Yolanda, please consider sending donations over to UNICEF, the DSWD, or the Philippine Red Cross.  Other aid organizations are found in the GOV.PH website, and all over Facebook.  If you’re reading this from overseas, please consider making donations through the Salvation Army, Doctors Without Borders, the International Medical Corps, or even through iTunes.

Whenever you can, please try to donate money: while this may be a good time to donate old clothes we’ve outgrown or medicines we don’t use, I think that the pressing needs of our suffering countrymen demand a smarter, more useful donation.  Try to talk to your HR about giving a donation (no matter how small) as a salary deduction.

From what little I know of development work (I’m not an expert), donating in cash is more useful for the following reasons:

  1. Cash is easier to hold on to and to transport than, say, boxes and bags of shoes.
  2. Donations-in-kind are more expensive to transport, to sort out, and to distribute than, say, boxes and bags of clothes.
  3. Those in the ground would know more about the needs of the victims, and with the cash they can procure and purchase goods more efficiently than we can if we gave in kind.

I came across this Greatest Good Donation Calculator from the USAID CIDI; hope it lends you some perspective on how much the costs of a gift-in-kind can be, and why a monetary donation may be a smarter gift to give.

Cash donations also help fund the rebuilding of these communities in the future.  Despite the specter of graft and corruption plaguing the Philippines, making these donations means getting more relief and projects out there and funds the humanitarian and rebuilding efforts.  Crowdsourcing the flow of international aid is something that many Filipino netizens are doing a lot of lately, so public transparency is there.

Off-tangent, I hope that these discussions on social media about where all the aid is going can spark interest on the nature of aid, humanitarian work, and the challenges facing aid.  For those of you who want to get to know more about aid, there are some great blogs out there that discuss the topic of humanitarian aid from aid workers’ perspectives: Good Intentions are Not Enough and Tales from the Hood come to mind.

And here’s an absolute essential: the Google Person Finder.

So yes, you don’t have to feel helpless, small, and significant in donating whatever cash you can this payroll (or right now, if you can, or maybe someday soon).  A little goes a long way.

Oh, and one last thing: when making donations let’s keep in mind that it’s not about us, it’s about them.  And at the risk of sounding a little too touchy-feely about it, I strongly believe that there’s truth in saying that when it comes to giving, it’s about being the giver that others need, not being the giver we want to be.

Hope you can share!  Not this post, but a donation to the victims of Yolanda.

Postscript: The view on the relief efforts and all the chatter in social media, that will come later.