Resilience Plus

After the battering of Typhoon Ulysses, my brother and I made a quick trip around the vicinity as soon as the flood waters in our area subsided, both to check the surroundings and to check if his motorcycle is still working. Thankfully, his motor is still in good condition, but not for most of Marikeños. Ulysses relived the gruesome experience we had from Ondoy of 2009.  

But we have to move forward. No matter how heavy the beatings we receive, we have nowhere to go but forward. It’s funny that the first people I saw in the neighborhood are those who chooses to celebrate their safety through liquor. What a typical Pinoy episode of resiliency.   

As a true-blue Marikeño, I have heard stories, seen and experienced its actual transformation from a muddy and unfamiliar municipality to become a “City in the Pink of Health” and one of the “Most Bikeable Cities in the Metro”. I have seen my city leaders in action – not just in words but real action be it during typhoons, flashfloods and pandemic. I must say, I am proud to be a Marikeño. The Marikina City mayors I have witnessed growing up raised the bar of what leadership should look like. Leadership is not embossing one’s name in street lamps and school buildings. Leadership is not about etching one’s face in food packs and paper bags. It is not about press conferences and media exposure. It is about actual service and caring for your constituents. It is about assuring and reassuring your people that you are with them no matter what.  

If you’re thinking, “sana all” and consider me privileged, I agree with you. I am indeed privileged for being a Marikeño. And I hope all Filipinos have the same privilege as I have for having a leader with compassion and heart to serve. With the kind of leadership that we Marikeños have, we are sure to stand up strong again after this storm. 

But let’s talk about resilience. I have to agree with most of the posts flooding my social media feed. Resilience is good, because we really have no better option. It is better to stand up and be positive than to sulk and refuse to move on. But we cannot afford to accept the same fate over and over. Resilience is a good trait but it must not be an excuse not to grow as a person and as a nation. We can continue to smile in the midst of challenges but it is better if we smile because we have learned how to avoid unnecessary challenges. Just like what’s being said around in social media – let us stop romanticizing Filipino resilience. 

Resilience is good but let us add the following to make it better: 

Resilience plus call for accountability  

This has been the call of many in the social media. It is ok to be resilient but we must not welcome every pounding with a smile while people in power exploit us. Authorities must provide means to secure us and safeguard our  assets. Gamit lang yan, mababawi rin yan! (it’s just an item, you can have another one). True enough, we whatever is lost during a natural calamity can always be replaced, but with proper planning and disaster risk management, we can mitigate our losses. 

It’s not wrong to demand for reasonable service from our public officials, especially since we are basically paying our taxes and voting them into their offices. Our resilience is not a license for their corruption and incompetence. Besides, our demands will raise the bar for the quality of their service. If we remain silent and take all beatings to ourselves, we are empowering their inaction and insensitivity. Let’s help our officials to put their offices and our taxes into action. If our officials take it as an attack, perhaps they are not fit to public service?   

Resilience plus proactivity 

We have learned a lot from Ondoy. It has been revealed in our faces that our drainage system was not enough to take hold of the surging waters from the mountains of Rodriguez. So there were efforts after Ondoy to construct dikes, improve drainages and flood control systems. I remember people heavily inconvenienced during the construction of DPWH’s flood control, but I believe it helped mitigate the floods we experienced lately. News outlets informed us that it Ulysses’ flood level is a little over Ondoy. Imagine its effects if no projects were done in between.  

It’s good thing to be resilient but it is just being reactive. It is basically moving on and picking up the pieces after a beating. But being proactive is preparing yourself even before a beating happens. It is taking precautionary actions even before something bad happens. It is making the most out of the situation by learning the lessons it brought you. As the saying goes – “once is enough, twice is too much”, to which I add “third time’s foolishness”. 

BUT I also counter myself in this – not everyone has the privilege, no matter how proactive they would like to be. Some people don’t have the necessary resources, connections or opportunities to change their situations. But I’d still like to emphasize that being proactive helps, especially when one has the means to do so.  

Resilience plus faith  

If we add faith in our resilience, imagine the benefits it will bring. I’ve been hearing a lot of hate about toxic positivity that instead of helping people in their plight, it gives them false sense of security. To some extent I agree that relying on a false sense of security is not good, but being positive and hopeful is way better than looking at things from a doom’s point of view.  

But I’d like to propose something better than positivity – faith in God. Positivity tries to dismiss all the things that happen, especially the bad to see only the good. In essence, it is plain escapism. Faith, on the other hand, does not ignore the bad, but accepts it as a part of life and reality. As we live in a fallen, sinful world, faith gives us hope that no matter what happens, there is hope. It gives us assurance that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there’s a rainbow after the rain. God knows what He’s up to, and our confidence is in Him even in the midst of chaos. After all the challenges I have experienced in life, I can proudly say that God is the One who sustained me.  

If resilience is the action, faith is the fuel. If we move forward without any hope for the better, we are missing the point. But we move forward in life after all these challenges because there awaits a better future for us and our loved ones.  

There you have it! It’s always good to be resilient but let’s add more to it. Let us be better person, expecting and working towards a better community. Adieu!  

Photo by Stephanie Ecate on Unsplash

Author: Marts Valenzuela

To know Christ and make Him known.

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