OPINION: Hurricane Harvey

Buddy Gomez - Cyberbuddy

Posted at Sep 08 2017 02:31 PM

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - To all friends and kin who expressed care and concern over our safety and well-being (via e-mail, Facebook and phone calls/messages) due to the weather calamity that descended over Texas and Louisiana during the last week, please accept our sincere appreciation. San Antonio, Texas was spared from the ensuing agony wrought by Hurricane Harvey. It is indeed heartwarming to know of the prayers and kind sentiments we received from y’all. We are all safe, dry and sunny since two days after Hurricane Harvey’s landfall Friday night (August 25) in Rockport, a resort town by the Gulf.

Let me then share some relevant information selected from reportage of this unprecedented devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey, with perspective out of the impact and enormity of nature’s wrath.

Hurricane Harvey dumped a record amount of rain in continental USA. 51.88 inches! As measured by researchers of the US National Weather Service. Over the expanse where Harvey poured, a bevy of meteorologists estimated that to be, 27 trillion gallons of water. With a big “T.” Trillion!

Graphics borrowed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed New Orlean’s Katrina (2005) was at 17 inches while New Jersey’s Sandy (2012) at 7 inches.
Let me transport ‘27 trillion gallons’ to familiar terrain for Filipinos all over the world, still familiar with comparative local landmarks.

If our Mall of Asia (MOA) arena by Manila Bay were a humongous cistern (aljibe, in our dialect, derived from the Spanish), or say, MOA were a giant water can, fill that space 289,000 times. In other words, at least, 289,000 Malls of Asia! That was Hurricane Harvey’s water volume. Reference is the Houston Astrodome with near 68,000 spectator capacity. Henry Sy’s MOA is rated at a maximum seating of 20,000, with even lower/shorter floor to ceiling measurement.

How about this? Water supply for the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) for the next 30 years! 
An ABC-tv affiliate “calculated that the water could supply New York City for more than five decades.” New York City’s population is 8.5 million. 

Initial estimates of damage vary. Last Sunday, Washington Post carried a tentative US$80 billion, with a possibility of doubling when totals toted near completion. $80 billion in current exchange rates translates into PhPesos 4.086 trillion. The proposed Philippine government budget for 2018 is PhPesos 3.767 trillion. Typhoon “Ondoy,” the most devastating on record to ever hit Manila caused a 50-billion-peso damage. Ondoy’s P50-billion is 0.05% of a trillion!

Or, imagine a flood in Metro Manila that extends through all towns along the Maharlika Highway to San Fernando in the north and down to Calamba in the South. That’s about a 100-miles stretch, from Houston to Beaumont next to the Louisiana border.
Something like Harvey must have occurred in the Middle East during ancient times and found the event enshrined in the Old Testament. Interpreted as the “Universal Deluge,” the story of the great flood was handed down to Christians via its centerpiece, Noah’s Ark! Remember “a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female” according to the Genesis? A pair of tamaraws and a pair of tarsiers, too?

“Miss Jones Goes to Congress”

Still on Texas. 

There appears a strong possibility that a new Texas political star could be rising in the not too distant future. A local San Antonio girl with an inspiring story, that makes for an attractive and impressive political profile. Raised by a once domestic helper single mom, surviving on hardscrabble jobs and on subsidized housing with schooling on discount meals. High school with honors and an ROTC college scholarship, service with the Air Force that took her to Iraq, Libya and the Sudan, then to Washington DC in the Executive Office of the President/US Trade Representative, with assignments that developed experience in National Security, Defense and Intelligence and Foreign Trade matters. Story book material!

She is running in the Democratic primaries for the Texas Congressional representation of the 23rd District. Her mom is Pinay from San Quentin, Pangasinan. She is therefore Fil-Am. Gina Ortiz Jones. I would like to do a more extensive coverage on her progress and electoral potential sometime. In the meantime, I invite you to visit her website: ginaortizjones.com.

The First Fil-Am

Here is another discovery, at least for me. But perhaps many academic historians in the Philippines may not even have heard of him, too. The Filipino diaspora in the US and the Filipino American National Historical Society ought to know who this remarkable individual is. Ramon Reyes Lala. He is the first Filipino to become a naturalized US citizen! And this happened long before the Spanish-American War.

I am not at all familiar with the surname, much less the family of “Reyes Lala.” In fact, I have never heard of it before. Might there be surviving kin somewhere, perhaps? Ramon Reyes Lala is “A Native of Manila,” as indicated in the book he wrote in impeccable English before the Americans came to colonize the Philippine Islands. A hardbound, 342-page tome with maps and illustrations published in New York, December 1898. The book is “The Philippine Islands.” Verily, it is the very first book on the Philippines written by a Filipino.

What is even more startling is that Ramon Reyes Lala may have been responsible for the very first English translation of Jose Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios.” ‘Rizalistas,’ both in academia as well as among the knowledgeable gentry, will most probably credit Charles Derbyshire, whose celebrated English translation was published in 1911, for that opus. Ramon Reyes Lala, however, perhaps out of modesty, does not claim to have written the translation. In his book, however, he quotes the entire poem, in English, as it was “first given in the New York Herald.” It was titled “My Last Thought.” Without any given date, this particular translation could not have been any later than May 1, 1898.

Poll: President Trump is 'Unstable, Dishonest and an Immoral Bully'

A very rare occurrence in Manila’s mainstream print media, in the long past, is the advent of a common editorial. By agreement over an issue of national momentous impact and import, editorial boards and publishers decide to publish on the same day, on the front page, their unified stand on an issue. The late Chino Roces was known to have spurred such action, once. With the Manila Times in the lead, action was supported by the Chronicle, Bulletin and Herald. If memory serves me right, the last time this happened was before Martial Law. The specific theme of the unified editorial now escapes me. But what shakes my memory bank is a piece of US News that by itself is rather extraordinary because it was issued by Fox News, famously reputed to be the purveyor of very ‘Alt-Right’ views and of pro-Republican, pro-Trump sentiments.

Well, the other day Fox News released the results of its poll on President Donald Trump. Americans are no longer holding back their sentiments. A considerable number of them hold their President to be: “Unstable, Dishonest, an Immoral Bully.”

A couple of months ago, there was also an endeavor, an academic one, that undertook a “distance” psycho-analysis on the mental make-up of the Donald. The least I can say is that the prognosis was not at all nice!

Of course, y’all know what I am getting at.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.