Tacloban: A people’s rage and the real enemy

Tony Lopez

Tony Lopez

Next to the quote attributed to CNN’s Anderson Cooper who was supposed to have said “There’s no leader, there is no government, there is no civil defense in the Philippines” (The quote, denied by Cooper himself, is a summary of how he described the situation in Tacloban), one article that has gone viral is the Facebook comment of noted Filipino director Peque Gallaga.

Cooper Tweeted on Tacloban: ““There’s no real evidence of organized recovery or relief.”

Every Filipino has cried upon seeing the harrowing pictures printed in newspapers around the world and broadcast incessantly in major television stations around the world of the devastation, death and decay in Tacloban, Guiuan, Hernani, Catbalogan and in most other towns of the Leyte and Samar provinces—the combined work of Mother Nature and the incompetence, ineptness and insensitivity of our government led by President BS Aquino in coping with the situation.

I cannot add anything to what Direk Peque has written because I cannot write better than him nor am I more eloquent in his rage. To put it bluntly, however, there is now a revolutionary situation in this country because of Yolanda and its aftermath and the scandal over pork barrel.

Impotent and incompetent
Here is Direk Peque Gallaga:

Not since Marcos have we as a people been so polarized. As far as our hearts and minds are concerned it’s like we’re in the edge of a civil war. We are forced to take a hard look at ourselves and what we value.

Because of this, we are fighting friends in coffee houses, on the telephone, and on Facebook. We are a people whose lives have been upended. We don’t know what to do to get things done right and right away. We lash out. We insult our leaders trying to get them to do a lot more than to pose for photo ops—of giving out relief goods on a one-by-one basis. We cry desperately for demonstrable government response—we get almost next to nothing.

It is increasingly apparent that local media goes hand in hand with self-servicing Malacañang press releases which are more concerned with their showbiz image than confronting, accepting and dealing with the problem. What our leaders tell us is contradicted by the reports from international commentators who are understandably more objective and growing less dispassionate as they witness the horrors around them.

What our leaders tell us is also contradicted by the victims in these areas who are slowly able to give us the true picture of the realities of the situation. And the reality is that people are starving. The dead still lie on the streets even five days after the event. There are anguished souls scavenging for whatever they can to survive, as well as professional looters ambushing the helpless and relief caravans. It’s a war zone out there.

This disaster has affected, not only the islands in the path of Yolanda, but all of us as a nation. We have all been judged and found wanting.

But more worrisome, is that we take a long hard look at our leaders and we judge and we find them wanting. It is worrisome because we have chosen them and are paying them to serve the needs of our nation and it seems that they can’t deliver. I don’t think that anybody, even the most criminal politician, can be that hard-hearted and close his eyes to this calamity so I can only surmise that they don’t know what to do.

That they are impotent and incompetent. I am 70-years-old and I don’t know what to do, but then again, I didn’t run for office promising the voters that I would take care of national concerns.

I am a private citizen and like most of my fellow citizens, have given of what I have to the relief effort. I have given to the point of hurting. I am 70-years-old and have been stupid a lot of times for seven decades. I want to think that I can be a little less stupid now. This time, I want to make sure that my hard-earned money will reach its intended goal. I am sick and tired of throwing away my money; of making our politicians wealthy because of my unconcern and my inattention. I am sick and tired of my stupidity.

So I very much care now where all this help is going. I read Marvin Xanth Geronimo who was there when Yolanda struck: that TV personalities and politicians like Mar Roxas and Ted Failon going to Tacloban for the photo op. They never helped; endless tracking video shots of flattened towns with people walking clutching a plastic bottle of water with no government presence whatsoever; Korina Sanchez calling Anderson Cooper “misinformed.” Cooper was in Tacloban. Korina was not; the US landing 5 planes full of goods and not allowing any politicians to touch any of it. How much more do we need for us to realize that the enemy was not Yolanda? Yolanda was just a force of nature. The enemy is our leaders. And the leader of our leaders is the President. So what now? There’s nothing I can actually do.

I can only rage, rage against the dying of common decency. I can only rage against this man who claimed in a Christian Amanpour interview that he couldn’t get to the disaster areas because the weather after the storm left didn’t permit him to fly.

This is 24 hours after the sun was shining all over the Philippines by then. I can only rage against a man who made light of the tragedy, refusing to identify it as a major disaster; who made light of a victim of looting who was shot at by telling him, “But you did not die, right?” I rage against a man who continually blames the LGU’s on the ground for their incompetence and their inefficiency because it is beginning to dawn on me that these Visayan LGU’s happen to be Romualdez people and this man is playing politics with people’s lives. This is a crime. What this man does is unconscionable.

I can only state it here. I can do nothing about it for now. I will wait for whatever movement develops after this fiasco and I will join it. But for now, what I can do is to declare that I am deeply offended by the people who try to stop me and others from stating the obvious. All those people who charge us for criticizing, for being negative, for Aquino bashing—I am done with these people. In a very Yellow Army way, they try to hide behind an illogical argument that we cannot help if we criticize. I don’t know how good these friends are at multi-tasking, but one does not cancel out the other. We can help and we can criticize.

And at this point I am convinced that we do help when we criticize; if at one point we can, as Hamlet says, “catch the conscience of the king.” But I know that this is futile. This man is no king. He is not even a real representative. What can you expect from someone who never worked an honest day in his life. What could he possibly relate to? So my friends who accuse me of Aquino bashing: I want you to know that I’m done with your line of thinking.

Either you defend this man or you defend the people that this man is ignoring. Don’t believe that the people are his “boss.” This was a piece of advertising sound byte created by showbiz experts to get the unthinking masses out there to swallow this uniquely unqualified man. This man who is totally unprepared for the most difficult job in the country. So my friends, as far as I’m concerned, you choose him or you choose the people. But if you instruct me again to stop bashing this man I am unfriending you. I will unfriend you in Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and out in our leaderless streets. ~~ Peque Gallaga



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  1. One on the best written article in a long time. We need more Filipinos who can stand up for what is right, who can enlighten, inform, persuade the blinds and wake up the people from their long sleep. Mr. Gallaga, God has given you a gift of putting your thoughts into words. Please make use of it as the cause is so noble and too worthy. You reminded me our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. You both have the wisdom, the talent, the knowledge and the courage to let it all out for the sake of the country and its people. May you continue on sharing your thoughts to enlighten your people. God bless.

  2. Well said Mr. Peque Gallaga. I cried when I watched the news that despite the AFP having thousands of men at it’s disposal, soldiers were not sent immediately to clear the roads, restore order and pick up the dead. Bodies of the dead still littered the streets of Tacloban 5 days after Yolanda struck. This impotent and inept Aquino government did not even send a team to launch search and rescue missions to search for those who were still alive under the debris; any survivors under the debris were just left to die. Our people did not deserve this kind lousy treatment they got from BS Aquino.

    Five days after the storm, DSWD had not even set up feeding centers to feed the hungry nor erected temporary shelters for the homeless. Not to be outdone in ineptness is the Department Health which failed set up field hospitals to treat the sick. Our government is not just incompetent and corrupt – it is also sick.

  3. Appreciation to you Mr. Gallaga…

    Well said and done… and pls be careful… this leadership is capable of putting you down and silence you…

    Our president “Pork Barrel King” is so good, i.e.
    1. Very good in using our people’s money for his own benefit
    3. Very good as uncaring, insensitive to peoples welfare
    4. Very good for blaming others for his failures
    5. Very good in protecting his “ka-alyado” only
    6. Very good in protecting their properties in Tarlac
    7. Very good in talking only without action when emergency sprung up because he
    is not prepared AND IN-CAPABLE for such situation.


    I am also a senior citizen and can not do anything except to rage… viewing the devastation and loss of human lives. I want to help but I don’t have the means financially. Did the president which has enormous wealth and hacienda luisita
    gave even a single centavo to the victims??? I did not hear or read any…

    Posting my comments is my only way to show my dissatisfaction and anger with this president…

  4. ThunderousCloud on

    One does not inherit the Office of the President. The first time I heard BS was running for that office, I thought we’re gonna be in big trouble. And look where we are right now.

  5. From day 1 of this inutil President’s term i was already on the verge of hopelessness for the future of the Filipino. We choose a leader only by virtue of the death of one touted as Icon of Democracy whose term as President did nothing to implement the agrarian reform of their very own Hacienda Luisita. So Mr Gallaga if this is a consolation to you and for whatever it is worth, my hope for salvation from this Impotent and Incompetent Leadership(if i may borrow your term used) is not at all hopeless while there are people like you out there. But then again We only deserve the kind of leadership we have with only the kind of people we chose to lead us… No more no less.

  6. what polarization is mr gallaga talking about?
    look around and read mr gallaga. there is no polarization.
    the two opposing poles you are seeing exist only in your mind.

    and who are the people that he claims the president is ignoring?
    is he referring to the romualdezes? read the manila standard and
    feel the palpable excitement that these sufferings will bring to them
    as a bounty of ammunition to throw to this government. they are
    hooligans. and hooligans are ignored. unless you want them jailed
    for, well hooliganism.

    old folks like mr gallaga and joker have been there and done that.
    and yet in spite of that wealth of knowledge they just
    sit and watch and rant at the ‘amateur and incompetent ‘
    president. shame on you for being a part of that generation
    that has made all of this suffering a festering wound that refuses to heal.
    you are part the original ulcer. and instead helping, you insult
    and complain that the fecal materials that litters the streets
    are obnoxious when most of it came from your kind.

    be a great man mr gallaga. rage, rage against the dying of
    the light of reason.
    you have seen the two roads, choose the one less taken
    for the old is rotten.
    rise above you bi-polarity.
    just help, we need you.

  7. Let us not forget what the Filipino people went through in a relatively long history of Marcos regime, what the Filipinos suffered. Let us not underrate the pierce pride & courage of our revolutionary Fathers & Filipino intellectuals. And let us not forget that Philippines, as a nation that sees itself as being attacked by internal foes & surrounded by enemies of political beasts, will thriump against all odds. Why? Let us not doubt that the Filipino people are by nature warriors & radicals with pierce mentality: they keep on asking question, criticising, analyzing & doubting. This is the essence of democracy. This is the beauty & immortality of human mind or thought: it demands that we should not be enslaved, indoctrinated & manipulated. I do agree that if contemporary dictators & corrupt Filipino leaders would succeed to eliminate the simple word: ‘Why’ from the vocabulary of Human Species, then, they have succeed in changing the Filipino people from freedom-loving people to modern slaves, or from “political animals to animals.” Historically, this is considered the greatest crime against humanity because dictators & corrupt Filipino politicians will demand that they are armed with the absoute truth: that the Filipino voters will simply believe. Every human being must never give up his power: the ability to question, to think, to doubt, & to defend human rights. Moreover, I do agree that aside from human IQ, there is another power which is rooted in every culture: the power of “personal perspective that influences human thoughts, opinions, actions, choices, & the ability to explore & make changes.”

  8. Well said, Derek Gallaga! May we have more of your tribe in our broadcast and/or press sector, telling what is the real score.

    By the way, in all official photos of our president that I have seen, I never noticed that he wears the Philippine flag emblem on his lapel. I translate this to be a divisive gesture, which I hope it is not.

    • Since day one of his presidency he has been wearing it. I think its a bad omen because since then we became disunited and our problems in our country is just one after the other. He should let that go and pls stop wearing yellow!! 2016 is still a long way!