Of disasters and beauty pageants

Two things happened lately that spelled all sorts of disaster (how timely, as I’m currently taking a course in disaster risk reduction and management): Overseas, the immediately notorious Executive Order issued by US President Donald Trump, and here at home, the announced impending closure of Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), the country’s program providing data for disaster prevention and mitigation.

Trump’s EO, as most of the world knows by now, effectively turned away 50,000 refugees and stopped visa holders from 7 countries from getting into the United States. It was met with global outrage, but not before affecting hundreds of people whose lives abruptly came to a halt.

As for my country — beset by almost 2 dozen typhoons a year, positioned along the Pacific Ring of Fire, home to numerous active volcanoes, and assessed as the world’s 4th most vulnerable nation to climate change — the national government’s decision to close down the primary research-based initiative for disaster prevention and mitigation is simply mind-boggling.

65th Miss Universe Competition - Contestants Visit Davao, Philippines
Photo courtesy of http://www.missuniverse.com

Meanwhile, Filipino netizens have been making noise in social media, the Philippines having just hosted the Ms. Universe pageant. In the midst of the world’s chaos and our nation’s woes (Another news update: The Philippine National Police has announced a stop in its “war on drugs” as it uncovered the need to cleanup its own backyard first. Enter the “war on scalawags.”) the vitriol mills that are Facebook and Twitter have taken a cheerier, lighter tone among Pinoys hungry for a happy diversion. The “disaster” that has been warranting heated debates? Our bet’s flubbed answer during the Top 6 Q&A. Because why not? We are Filipinos, and we are passionate about our beauty pageants.

And so, from my disaster-stricken nation to yours, I say, “Mabuhay!” [“Long live!” — a popular Filipino greeting, often used by beauty pageant contestants] and may the good and sovereign LORD of all nations and circumstances have mercy on us all.


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