day 22: still, unmitigated grief

Why is the Filipino flag not flying at half mast? Instead of fudging the death toll figures, why hasn’t the President declared a period of national mourning? We should be allowed to grieve for the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who perished in the storm. We need to perform the rituals and prayers for the dead, the way it has always been done in our culture, as a means for the living to come together and start healing.

that was direk butch perez’s facebook status on the 13th day after the sudden deaths, the disastrous drowning, of thousands upon thousands of our kababayans, their lives wiped out, snuffed out, by superstorm yolanda.  only then did i realize that the 9th day, traditionally the culmination of nine days of mourning and remembering and praying for the dead, had passed us by unmarked, except perhaps in sunday masses that 17th of november.  and i have since been trying to figure out why…

why has the president not declared a period of national mourning?  it is the right, the appropriate, the humane, thing to do in the face of these grievous mass deaths, with the deepest sympathy for bereaved families and orphans, friends and communities, who need to go through the process of grieving and healing if they are to find their way to acceptance and closure.

it is also the honorable thing to do.

today in honor of bonifacio, let us spare a thought, nay, many thoughts, for the dead of yolanda.  there was something heroic, too, about husbands and fathers and sons who felt strong and brave enough to stay behind, look after their shacks and boats and scanty possessions, so that their wives and children would have something to come home to, but who lost their lives.  there was something heroic, too, about whole families leaving everything behind, fleeing to evacuation centers, trusting they would be safe in the hands of government, but who lost their lives anyway.  there was something heroic, too, about survivors searching for loved ones and sleeping beside their dead mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, as they waited, prayed, despaired, for help.

today in honoring bonifacio, the president paid tribute to soldiers and policemen, doctors and nurses, students and professionals, volunteers and fund-raisers, young and old, rich and poor, far and near, everyone who pitched in, and continues to help, in relief and rehab.

but still no words for the dead, no words of comfort for the bereaved.


Yolanda in grim numbers
Corpses still scattered across parts of Tacloban 
Tacloban and body bags
Mirror neurons
PNoy: ‘Yolanda’ responders just as heroic as Bonifacio