Lessons Will Be Repeated Until They Are Learned

Based from experience, I realized that the best lessons in life are learned during the worst times. Truly, this is relevant to what happened yesterday here in our city which is Cagayan de Oro.

I haven’t noticed there is heavy rain yesterday since we were inside our office until when one of my co-workers informed us that the rain still persisted until 5PM which is already a time for going out from work. However, most of us were stranded because of the heavy rains. We constantly update ourselves in social media regarding the current events. By then, we were horrified with the posts from several Kagay-anon netizens. We saw photos from the nearby mall in our office. A lot of vehicles already floated. Likewise, main roads were not accessible because of the heavy flood. Also, creeks and canals extremely overflowed.

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Image from kami.com.ph

Yesteday, PAG-ASA declared that there is no typhoon. Only a Low Pressure Area was detected by the government agency. After the catastrophic event, several people began to blame the meteorological agency because of its inaccuracy to detect such massive weather disturbance in the city. Likewise, others blame the city government and rescue teams for their lousy response during the event. Similarly, other individuals blame the DPWH because of its ineffective drainage system in the urban area.

I still remember before when despite the heavy rains in the city, Cagayan de Oro has never experienced floods. We were living peacefully until when trees were chopped because of illegal mining and urbanization in high lying areas. As a result, rain water which could have been absorbed by the trees situated at the watershed areas would find its way down to the urban areas.

Yet, you know what? No government agency or rescue team should be blamed for such calamity because we are the ones who are liable for this event.

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The aftermath (Photo courtesy from Ivan Pailagao)

We are to blame for this disaster because we became irresponsible Filipino citizens. Even though there is a garbage receptacle situated nearby, we choose to throw our trash everywhere. We throw them on the road and on the street. We throw our plastic bottles and candy wrappers on the road whenever we ride a public vehicle such as bus or jeepney. I truly feel guilty because of this one. Even though we’re just throwing a small candy wrapper or a tiny plastic container, remember that this plastic waste would eventually go through our drainage systems. Soon, this would obstruct the flow of the creeks and canals. At the same time, plastic materials take a longer time to decompose compared to organic resources such as wood, leaves, and paper. Take time to see the span of time it takes for these materials to decompose:

Glass Bottle- 1 million years
Monofilament Fishing Line – 600 years
Plastic Beverage Bottles – 450 years
Disposable Diapers – 450 years
Aluminum Can – 80-200 years
Foamed Plastic Buoy – 80 years
Foamed Plastic Cups –  50 years
Rubber-Boot Sole – 50-80 years
Tin Cans – 50 years
Leather – 50 years
Nylon Fabric – 30-40 years
Plastic Film Container – 20-30 years
Plastic Bag – 10-20 years
Cigarette Butt – 1-5 years
Wool Sock – 1-5 years
Plywood –  1-3 years
Waxed Milk Carton –  3 months
Apple Core – 2 months
Newspaper – 6 weeks
Orange or Banana Peel – 2-5 weeks
Paper Towel – 2-4 weeks

(Source: US Department of Environmental Services)

Until one day, when heavy rains would unexpectedly come, the waters could not easily flow. Eventually, it would find its way to settle at the urban area which is what happened to the city of golden friendship yesterday.

Some would say that the date yesterday, January 16, was exactly 6 years ago, December 16, 2011, when Typhoon Sendong devastated our city. A lot then eventually made their interpretations because of this one. However, this is neither about the analysis of the dates of both calamities nor the blaming of government agencies and rescue teams. This is a lesson. This is about us, my fellow Kagay-anons. We are currently living our city and most importantly, our home, as if we had another one to go to.

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Photo form Mugstoria.com

This is a reminder for us to think twice whenever we throw our plastic bottles at the streets or just toss that Mentos wrap on the road whenever we ride a jeepney. Make that move even in the smallest ways because our children, which are the ones who would soon live Cagayan de Oro City and our home, Earth, would remember the examples we have set to them. This is a lesson for us that whatever we do to Mother Nature, one day, will ultimately go back to us. Hopefully, we should not anymore make another mistake in order for us to learn a lesson from the worst experiences.

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