The Human Response to Tropical Storm Ketsana (Ondoy)

On September 26, 2009, Saturday, a tropical storm named Ketsana (PAGASA name Ondoy) brought so much trouble and devastation to most of Metro Manila. Hours of continuous rain have caused floods in most cities. Even major thoroughfares like EDSA and the South Superhighway were not spared from flooding.

During that day, we the Lightworkers in the Philippines were having a seminar in Singapore School Manila. When the rain did not go away, we have decided to stay within the Magallanes area and have lunch in the nearby restaurants. As we walked to the restaurant, we saw a waist-high flood on the South Superhighway. We had our lunch and waited for the floods to subside even just a little. Some of us have decided to go home after seeing the floods subside. We left Magallanes in groups. I decided to go with the third and last group and we went to Bel-Air 1 to wait for the storm to weaken.

It was amazing that so many of our friends have used the technology of social networking to provide updates on flooded areas and alternate routes. We saw pictures of waist-high and neck-high floods, people staying on rooftops, and vehicles that were almost submerged.

During and after the storm, the authorities, private companies and countless volunteers have responded to the pleas of victims. Even in cyberspace, people have used social networking to provide information about where help was needed and what to do or bring to help.

As I write this blog post, I can't help but feel sad over the loss of life and property. I also feel inspired by the courageous and selfless acts of the uniformed personnel and civilian volunteers. I could say that the Filipino people met the worst of a calamity with the best of humanity.


Being a Libertarian

When I was in high school, I only knew about conservatives and liberals. They had a lot of differing opinions on personal and economic issues. Conservatives favored more economic freedoms and more control over personal freedoms. Liberals, on the other hand, favored more personal freedoms and more control over economic freedoms. I've also learned that there was also a statist system where big government controlled both personal and economic freedoms (e.g. Nazi Germany and North Korea).

During my college life, my political persuasion leaned towards the center-left. Only when I entered the workforce and saw the reality of taxation, unwise regulations, unwise government spending and bloated bureaucracies that I gradually moved towards favoring a political philosophy that values liberty and the individual. 

It was when I went to the United States a year ago that I found the word for what I believe in: libertarianism. During a random Web surfing session, I found out that there was a Libertarian Party in the United States. I used to think that there were only two political parties: the conservative Republican Party and the liberal Democratic Party. After reading about libertarianism, I found that it resonated with my aspirations and my beliefs. I wished I could be a Libertarian but it's not possible because I'm not an American citizen.  So for now, I'm happy with being a small-l libertarian.

Why am I a libertarian?
  • I support maximum liberty in personal and economic matters.
  • I advocate a much smaller government, which is limited to protecting individuals from coercion, fraud and violence. Less bureaucracy, less waste.
  • I value individual responsibility. Responsible people are not governed by mere laws. Free people act responsibly.
  • I believe that taxation should at least be made fairer, if not lesser, and that my tax money should be used wisely.
  • I strongly believe that Internet censorship and filtering are bullshit and a waste of resources. Education is a better way to address the dangers of the Internet (e.g. child porn) than government intervention.
  • I can tolerate diverse lifestyles, belief systems and religions. People should be able to live their lives in a way that makes them happy and that does not harm others. People should be free to choose to belong (or not belong) to a religious or non-religious organization.
  • I believe in free markets. Business should have minimal, if not zero government intervention. People should be able to buy products and services that they need and want.
  • I find that private charities can do a better job of helping the needy than the so-called "welfare state".
  • Civil liberties are important and they should be promoted and defended. The government should be afraid of the people, not the other way around.
One final note: a free and empowered individual is an essential component of a free and empowered society.


My Favorite Buddha Quote

I would like to start this blog with a quote from the original Buddha,  an Indian prince who left a life of luxury in search of enlightenment and founded a belief system which was later named after him. I find the following quote applicable in my blog and in my life as a seeker of knowledge. (I would also like to refer to this quote as a disclaimer for some of my future blog posts.)

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

- Siddhartha Gautama Buddha (563 B.C.E. - 483 B.C.E.)