Sunday, August 4, 2019

Resilience of the Filipino Spirit: The People of Guimaras Island

The Island-Province of Guimaras in Western Visayas, Philippines is blessed with a natural ecosystem and booming ecotourism. This tiny island is peaceful and wonderful that many people are attracted to its natural splendor.

I have visited the Island of Guimaras for the first time in March 2014 and have met a Religious Community in the town of San Lorenzo. That was just about 2 hours of immersion but I have felt the warm welcome from the Religious leaders and the members. That was the Iglesia Filipina Independiente or Philippine Independent Church that I have served through a practical health talk as part of our WellLife Program delivered in key cities in the Philippines.

Apart from meeting with the Religious Community, I was able to enjoy swimming at the beach with its semi-white sand and clear waters and so I promised to come back to explore the other side of the Island. In December of that same year in 2014, I came back and enjoyed a day in the islet called "Tatlong Pulo" in the town of Jordan and that was my first ever camping in a cove and my second and last visit on the Island that I call a paradise. 

WellLife Program in San Lorenzo, Guimaras in 2014

On August 3, Saturday, I was saddened by the news about the tragic incident of the 3 passenger boats that have capsized in Iloilo Straight; just in the middle of the waters of the province of Iloilo and the Island of Guimaras. This happened despite the absence of a typhoon signal, but the presence of strong wind and water currents. Of more than 50 passengers, there were reported survivors, but the sad part is the number of casualties and the missing passengers whose lives were not saved.

I feel their loss and empathize with the stories of some survivors and those who are mourning the loss of their loved ones. Who could have imagined the sudden death from a tragedy that could have been prevented to happen?

I suddenly remember what I have learned from the AGOS forum about Disaster Resilience back in July 2017 when they have discussed the possibility of zero casualties by following the 3 goals which are to Prepare, Respond and Recover. In this case about the boat incident, there might be a lack of preparedness on the part of the authorities when they have not suspended the boat operations despite inclement weather. 

They may not be prepared with higher anticipation and their right judgment that have caused the lives of innocent people. To have responded and recovered would be essential goals, but there's always one goal that we tend to neglect and that is "preparation" and so this tragic event will keep on repeating itself until we learned our lesson on the essence of preparation. 

This would be one of the most tragic maritime incidents in the Iloilo Strait and we can better prepare so that this will be prevented. I believe that accidents do happen no matter how careful we are, but there are things that we are of total control. Hence, we can improve on our right judgment, leadership, and sense of responsibility and accountability.

On a personal level, one lesson would be a need for enhanced survival skills like swimming to avoid drowning and this could be part of our preparation in a possible maritime incident. We can't always play a victim for something which we can do. Nowadays, we can't predict or anticipate an accident to happen, but one thing is for sure that survival skills and techniques will go a long way if we value life and become a survivor. 

The people of Guimaras and Iloilo and those families affected may not be able to recover easily and may need our deepest sympathy and prayers. I have known them to be deeply spiritual people and they will remain to be strong and will always rise up again from this sad fate.

As Filipino we will always rise up from tragedies... we can rise up from natural calamities. Our resilience remains amidst sorrows and pain. But one thing is certain that we may be able to recover, but not cover the pain. We can live our life again with the best learnings and wisdom we can gain.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Related Post: