Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In the central Philippines, a humanitarian crisis, on Facebook, TROLLS!


NOW the Danish news is focused on the humanitarian crisis in Tacloban, Leyte, and the rest of the Philippines: the delay in receipt of food, water and medicine on the ground, despite the loads of aid arriving from foreign countries. DR (Denmark's state television) has three reporters as of today in my country.

Philip Khakhar, normally assigned to Afghanistan, filed his report from Cebu, the afternoon of November 13. The death of eight people in a panicked stampede at a store or warehouse came up, Khakhar quoting a witness who said the looters were not criminals nor professionals, just ordinary citizens who were starving.

He mentions President Aquino's statement that the actual death toll was closer to 2,000 - 2,5000 instead of 10,000, adding that it sounded like an attempt to downplay the extent of the damage in the face of a storm of criticism of the government.

In the second part of the report, Danish Red Cross director Anders Laderkarl is interviewed via Skype from Manila, speaking of the logistical challenge of getting help out to those who need it.

I don't have a direct link to this report but here's a link to DR's news menu as of today, November 13:

(Sorry, it's in Danish: my loose summary is the best I can do at the moment).



For the first time in five days I've gotten away from my computer, to which I'd been glued relentlessly reading through the updates on Facebook. Today the anger and frustration have escalated into full-scale arguments among my roster of friends and connections, most of whom have ties with the Philippines if not actually living there.
There are the usual conspiracy theorists, alternating criticism and defense of the Philippine government (especially those involved in getting aid to the victims of typhoon Haiyan), and, perhaps not surprisingly, a return to the cutesy forwarded bull --- blah invited you to play blah, blah likes a page, blah has uploaded a food-porn shot as she was wont to do pre-typhoon -- that makes me want to throw the portable phone at my computer screen (not advisable, not advisable at all).

And of course, there are the trolls, the many-striped Philippine and the common North American variety, slinking around to feed with ever-growing confidence and to spread their foul leavings over the internet. Whether it's disgruntlement at the defeat of a political patron, or righteous confidence in the proximity of the Rapture, or a just-plain-racist conviction that Filipinos ought to be sterilized out of existence, trolls take pleasure in rudeness and playing on the emotions of their victims. Fortunately, their grunts and howls are easily detectable, and solved with a simple click on the cursor.

In short, things on Facebook are getting back to normal. People who, like me, were glued to their computers over the weekend up until Tuesday, are now numbed by what had once been gruesomely riveting: ships' bows rearing up over the splinters of a house, cars stacked on top of each other like mating wildlife, a vista of what had once been middle class neighborhoods lying like a heap of matches, pretty facades standing alone like faces in a war zone, faces with everything else in back of them blown away.

Grotesquely, only the dead bodies have really changed in the now well-documented wasteland of Tacloban, lying bloated and black on sidewalks.

But I'm still sitting in front of my monitor, waiting for word from the rest of the afflicted provinces. Guiuan, Ormoc, Bantayan, Capiz, Antique ... what is the news?







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