Filipinos’ expertise in preparing and managing fiestas, a useful skill in setting up and managing shelters

After food, water, sanitation facilities, and clean clothing, shelter is the next basic need of the affected.  But in order to deliver these in an organized manner, there ought to be a central command post in the City by now.  Organizing aid delivery on the ground has been slow when seen against the speed of how we organize and set up booths and information centers for festivals or fiestas (think Sangyaw, Pintados-Kasadyaan festivals of Tacloban).  Then, there is no barrier so big that could impede people from pushing on with the merry making.  Volunteer groups are tapped to man the information posts.  Come rain or high water, the parade must go on.  The poor will barter their cows if only to show up in the design and colors of the festival.  The Haiyan disaster is challenging us to be as quick, creative, and organized.

How many hours does a veteran fiesta management group take to set up a decent tent? Not even an hour? Then by god what are we waiting for? There ought to be temporary shelters by now in safe places around the City and other affected areas.  Instead, what we see are the affected spending days and nights out on the open.  One of the tasks of the central command post should be to distribute and supervise tasks, a group or committee doing this, another that; not everybody repacking foodstuff.  Some has got to be in food, others in water, sanitation and hygiene, some in communications, others in shelter, some in making an inventory, setting up a database and providing the affected with temporary IDs (not the undignified-looking cardboards strung around their necks!), and so on.

To veteran festival organizers, feeding thousands has never been a daunting task.  In fact, we measure the success of a festival by the number of mouths to feed and our capacity to feed them. Life is not fun or more fun all the time.  Sometimes it is, according to Dan Brown, an inferno but in any case government should use, in responding to the affected of Haiyan, the same will, skill, and energy it expends in preparing for fiestas.           

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