True Filipino Resilience

For the residents of the Don Jose M. Beringuer Sr. Bamboo Village in Sorsogon City, Sorsogon, “resilience” is not just a trendy rhetoric, it’s a yearly necessity.

Part of the Bicol region and directly facing the Pacific Ocean, Sorsogon is among one of the most-often hit areas in the Philippines for typhoons. It is regularly visited by at least 2-3 direct hits from typhoons every year; This year alone, the Bicol region was hit one after the other by Typhoons Quinta and Rolly, which sustained maximum winds of 130 kph and 315 kph respectively.

Millions in damages are sustained per year, and as always, it is those living in less than adequate housing and temporary shelters who remain the most vulnerable to these hazards.

Though an outpouring of donations and relief operations greatly help the region after every destructive typhoon, it becomes more and more obvious that there is an urgent need to re-evaluate the way we see resilience. Filipino resilience must be redefined to not just be the ability to cheerfully pick up the pieces after every damaging typhoon, but more than anything, must mean learning from and being prepared for the next. Typhoons are naturally-occurring, but disasters are preventable – loss of lives and property can be avoided through providing safe, disaster-resilient, and adequate housing to those most at risk.

Since its construction in 2017, the Don Jose M. Beringuer Sr. Bamboo Village in Sorsogon has withstood three major typhoons – Typhoon Tisoy in 2018, which sustained maximum wind speeds of 215 kph, and Typhoons Quinta and Rolly this year. Beneficiaries have reported that the CBFT houses sustained no damage, with the community kept safe during the onslaught of the typhoons.

“Yung Bagyong Tisoy talaga sobrang lakas ng hangin. Pero safe na safe kami dito, walang nasira sa amin.” [“The winds of Typhoon Tisoy were really strong. But we were safe here, there was no damage at all.”]

Now more than ever, we must recognize that resilience is not just about getting back up after every disaster; resilience is actively preparing for and ensuring that future disasters are prevented.