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The inconvenient truths

December 28, 2006

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Coast to Coast
By JA dela Cruz
BusinessMirror, Dec. 28, 2006

“AN Inconvenient Truth” is the global warming slide show of former US Vice President and internationally recognized environmental advocate Al Gore which was released worldwide several weeks before Christmas.

The way it looks, Gore’s show as this documentary has come to be known, could also be the precursor of a global trend toward public recognition and, more importantly, concerted action meant to address a number of critical issues which have heretofore been derided and swept aside as “bleeding heart concerns.”

This is not to suggest that such concerns have never before been brought to the fore with the same fervor and star action as this one. The worldwide AIDS and antipoverty campaigns, to name just two, have been replete and continue to be promoted with similar fervor and injunctions.

So it must have come as a pleasant surprise to Gore himself that the show’s reception has been nothing short of extraordinary turning out to be this year’s highest-grossing documentary and the third top grosser of all time. Which only goes to show that the public remains as appreciative and concerned about the increasing number of “inconvenient truths” which we, as a community, have to address to make our lives a little better and our world a better place to leave behind for the generations yet to come.

By the way, the trade in “blood diamonds,” another “inconvenient truth,” has spawned an equally hit movie starring an equally activist Leonardo di Caprio, and if we go by the reviews, the latest movie of another Hollywood icon, Mel Gibson, Apocalypto, is one among a number of top-ranked “ethnic cleansing” films which have come our way since a few years back.

What are we looking at here?

Well, we are looking at these examples as possibly the best way to bring home to the Filipino public yet again a number of “inconvenient truths” which have been conveniently swept under the rug or overtaken by events, as it were, but have to be addressed before we reap the whirlwinds, so to speak.

The matter of fires in public places and elsewhere, for example, which could have been avoided or mitigated but for a number of convenient reasons by those who should have known better.

Take the Ormoc Christmas day blaze which claimed the lives of 25 shoppers and gutted millions of pesos worth of property and its twin, the burning to the ground of four buildings within the Cebu provincial capitol compound, to name just two of the more sensational cases.

We are told that the Ormoc fire could have been avoided had the store’s management: a) been stricter with the actions of some shoppers and b) had properly segregated its goods specially the pyrotechnics away from the others.

More importantly, no shoppers could have been killed had the management (again) unlocked its fire exits and the city and its fire department been more responsive and equipped to handle such kinds of accidents. Year in and year out we have had these kinds of findings and prescriptions after every major fire yet we seem to have been deadened to the bones and continue to commit the same mistakes.

This is an inconvenient truth which will haunt us to the very end if we as much as unduly ignore it. I am not sure if we can say the same about the Cebu fire which from all indications was more deliberately done rather than conveniently neglected.

But just the same we have to raise our voices and ask that the public move to insure that avoidable tragedies, such as this, never visit us again. Or, at the very least, the damages, if any, are mitigated and bearable. If that means imposing heavier penalties on building owners, mall operators and the like, so be it. If that means chopping the heads of the negligent officials or putting their asses on the fire, so be it. But we have to face up to this inconvenient truth sooner or else.

The Guimaras oil spill and the continued degradation of our seas and rivers is yet another inconvenient truth which we have to face up to and do something, or else. Lest Petron and its advocates, in and out of government, or for that matter the other oil companies and the known polluters of our seas and rivers, think that all have been forgotten.

They have to be reminded that it is not so. They have to be reminded of the beleaguered state of the barangays and the seas affected by the spill. They have to be told of the board of inquiry’s injunction which has yet to be fully answered. Re-show the Guimaras documentaries all over the place and, if necessary, through the Gore network which we are told is readily available.

Bring the plight of the Misamis oil spill into the open together with the death of the Pasig, the slow decay of Laguna de Bay, Lake Lanao and the other freshwater lakes in this benighted land. If possible, get a crew to document the unmistakable tragedy which has visited our lakes, rivers and seas all of which could have been and will probably be open to remediation if only we touch the hearts and pocketbooks of those who have the most responsibility and the most to answer for our descent into this inconvenient truth of decay and neglect.

Indeed, this season may just be the best time to bring out all the inconvenient truths which have haunted us and will definitely haunt us still as we strive to move on without facing up to them and doing something as a community to mitigate the damage or avoid the same altogether.

May the New Year be one dedicated to freeing us from years of closing our eyes to the inconvenient truths in our midst and finally recognizing the need to face up to our obligations to our and future generations.

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