Sunday, January 11, 2015

Surprised

One can suppose with the benefit of hindsight that there must be more than a bit of irony in the progression of events. When Typhoon Ruby (international name, Hagupit) entered the Philippine area of responsibility in early December of last year, the locals in Lianga and its surrounding communities rushed out in a frenzy of activity all of which was supposed to be in preparation for what was forecasted to be a major storm. The memories of the devastation left by 2013's Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and 2012's Pablo (Bopha), after all, remains painfully fresh in the minds of all Filipinos here.

When Ruby did not quite live up to its hype (although it did cause extensive damage and did claim at least 18 lives) and PAGASA, the national weather service, announced that a tropical depression was following on Ruby's wake and will make landfall in Surigao del Sur on Dec. 28, the response to what would later develop into Tropical Storm Seniang (international name, Jangmi) was understandably tepid to say the least. Everyone thought it was just going to another one of those run-of-the-mill weather hiccups common this time of the year in this part of the world.

It turned out that Seniang struck hard where Ruby veered away and this part of the country as well as many other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao got clobbered hard. Hundreds of thousands of people ended up paying dearly for their complacency. "We all prepared for Ruby," one survivor in Cebu province in the Visayas tearfully lamented, "but no one warned us about Seniang."