Our day starts at 7AM and our team is split into 2 to cover as much ground as possible. We’ve deliberately chosen affected areas that we feel have not gotten much coverage and between our teams, we hope to cover at least 4 municipalities: San Isidro and Sagbayan (mountainous municipalities) and Clarin and Calape (coastal municipalities). With the advice of our drivers, we take alternate routes to get to our areas. This adds about 30-45 minutes to our drive, but an hour on the road is still much better than the 6-8 hours we spent crossing Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and Tagum City for Typhoon Pablo. The drive is surprisingly smooth, and I only occasionally see collapsed buildings and rubble. This is a direct contrast to reports that these areas are inaccessible. What we find striking are the number of concrete houses that have collapsed while the wooden houses were still left intact and standing, having absorbed the shock of the earthquake better.
Even from the vantage point of a descending plane, I can see the gaps in the landscape of Tagbilaran City. Where there used to be buildings or structures in place, interspersed now between standing buildings are collapsed roofs, crumbling buildings or cordoned off rubble blocking off streets. Around it, Boholanos are going about their business but I know that every once in a while, people pour out to the streets to wait out an aftershock. Just yesterday, they were as intense as a 5 or 6, strong enough to be an actual earthquake, but actually just echoes of the 7.2 earthquake hitting just off-center of Bohol last October 15.
It's strangely been a trend in the last couple of weeks that I've been getting into a lot of conversations about social media and why it's not as important/useful/relevant when a very large portion of our population don't have access to technology. What would a rural farmer care about Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all those social media platforms, particularly if you live in an area of rolling blackouts and limited services? So I'll take it as sign and write down my take on it.
The Philippines as a developing country has an imbalance in a lot of ways. We're known around the world as a social media capital, often driving our hashtag and trends into the world's online stage, when only a certain portion of our population is actually online. Social media is generally focused on those with capacity to own or access technology. And I do feel that how well you manipulate social media beyond updating your status message and saying hello to your friends is also dependent on how much capacity and access you have to information on manipulating social news and networks. So yes, there is a divide and it's obvious that social media is not the answer to solving deep-seated issues in our country.
Abbi is a petite human, blogger, amateur photographer, permanent humanitarian, avid traveller, culture addict, giant bookworm and impossible foodie.