Landslides Paralyze a Village

By Vic Odarve

Like volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis; landslides also paralyze a village where it occurs.

Landslide is characterized by a descent of a mass of earth and rock down a mountain slope due to gravity. The instability of the slope is sometimes triggered by earthquakes and heavy rains. Earthquakes may have caused stress, damage, and eventually weaken the foundation of rocks and earth of the mountain slopes. And during heavy rain, water seeps through cracks and pore spaces in underlying foundation, and encounters a layer of slippery material, such as limestone or clay. Thus, water-saturated soil becomes like liquid mud, an effect called liquefaction, and finally cracks the earth and stone formation of the slopes. If the support is not strong, the upper surface of these softened and well-lubricated layers of mass of earth and rock slides down due to gravity, thus a landslide occurs.

Cracks at Mayana Mountain Slope

Cracks at Mayana Mountain Slope

This is exactly what happened on July 11, 2005 in a village Mayana, a 17 km from a town of Jagna, Philippines. At around 3 am, on that fateful day, residents heard rocks were falling along a nearby mountain slopes in Sitio Balikbayan. A mass of earth of width about 400 m, and consists dominantly of blocks of limestone slowly moving down from the slopes. The debris, moving in a single mass at about average rate of 22 m/day caused great destruction when it passed in an area of dense human habitation in Sitios Balikbayan, Ilaud, and Pangabay. More than 103 families and 200 hectares of agricultural land were affected. No casualty was recorded. Total damage was estimated at Php 14,519,790. For many months the landslide had masked its potential tragedy until the debris stopped and stabilized. Since then, the affected populace was struggling in pain to make their both ends meet.

Path of the Landslide Debris

Path of the Landslide Debris

The earthquake of magnitude 5.3 with epic center 8 km from this landslide area which occurred at 8:25 pm on March 31, 2005 may have contributed to the instability of the rock formation of the Balikbayan mountain slopes. Then the prolonged spell of heavy rain of high intensity that followed worsens the situation. These factors triggered the Mayana landslide.

In most parts of the world, landslides usually occur on mountains with steep slopes trigger by many factors. Some of the most common causes include geological such as rainfall, and earthquakes; morphological such as slope angle, wave erosion and uplift; physical such as prolonged precipitation, volcanic eruption; and human such as mining, quarrying, deforestation, and excavation.

The Mayana case is one of the common pictures of landslides in the Philippines. The worst landslide recorded in history occurred in December 16, 1920 in Kansu, China where over 180,000 were reportedly dead.

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Are Gifts Blessing Or Bribe?

By Vic Odarve

Like light which behaves both as particle and wave, gifts are also dual in nature. Gifts could mean a blessing or a bribe to a giver or receiver. Both scenarios are possible. It depends on how we perceive them! It depends on its environs where it acts.

Adventure at Niger Delta, Nigeria, Africa

Adventure at Niger Delta, Nigeria, Africa

A mom told her son,”Son, you must have to visit your teacher/lecturer on his birthday. Bring this gift and greet him happy birthday”. The package consisted of imported wine and perfume. “What’s wrong? We did not ask and it is heartily given?” the lecturer reasoned out.

Some politicians, too, with monies screw from public funds, play like a god or paternalistic landlord. They distribute cash in millions as gifts to their voters. Those closer to their hearts receive larger windfalls! In return, people regard them as if they are lords as if they are gods in their districts as if they are God’s gifts to humanity. “What’s wrong? We did not ask and it is heartily given?” the people reasoned out.

A year ago, a wife of one lecturer got angry when he refused to give gifts to his boss and predicted: “You’ll never be promoted on your job as a lecturer and receive no salary increase if you don’t know how to give gifts!” Sure enough, the lecturer never got any promotion during his decade-long of teaching at the university. He was not among the chosen ones to be promoted and received a salary increase. In the group, he possessed the highest teaching qualifications. Gifts establish a connection to your bosses for a favored action.

Chocolate hills visit

Chocolate hills visit

A gift is a gift and nothing more. But a politician who gives a gift to the voters or a student who gives a gift to his lecturers/teachers is another thing. A gift is no longer a gift! It is a bribe for a vote in the coming election for a politician and also a bribe to facilitate a passing grade for a student by the lecturer/teacher. For a boss would mean a promotion and salary increase to his/her subordinates.

GIFT BECOMES A BRIBE

A gift is defined as something that is bestowed, usually to give pleasure or show gratitude while bribery is the illegal influencing of any person in the exercise of a public duty through the payment of money or anything of value.

Bohol, Philippines adventure

Bohol, Philippines adventure

To distinguish whether a gift is a bribe or not is a very difficult. In math, these two variables are functions of the motives of the giver and receiver and value of the gifts. A gift is given without any expectation of gain while in bribery a favor is expected. More often ‘a gift can be disclosed, a bribe needs to be concealed.

This is the usual perception. The definition becomes clearer if we know closely on the motives and subsequent actions of both parties that follow the gift giving. The value of the offer can be determined, but the motives can be deceptive and difficult to discern.  Most often bribery makes its debut under the cloak of gifts. Sometimes it depends on country’s culture where there be a hairline differences between gifts from bribes. Not all gift-giving is bribery.

Some cultural customs of the country consider commissions, honorariums, give away, incentives, and consultation fees as gifts while others as bribes. These also spell the difference.

BRIBES AND CORRUPTIONS

Bribes are close relatives to corruptions. Corrupt people permeate the world. Look at some famous people in the world today. Proven guilty, they are facing plunder charges in connection with bribes, corruption, scandals, scam, etc. Some of them are presidents, senators, congressman, and politician. The common denominator- they are allegedly receiving bribes, kickbacks, incentives, etc. in the form of gifts. Whatever the things they receive they call them gifts or blessings!

Corruption, which is the most hated social problems and difficult to eradicate, sometimes emanating from one’s own cultural background. It can starve investment of public-improvement projects and instead; fattened the pockets of the corrupt officials.

Though the practice is culturally rooted, a genuine political will allow checks and balances, transparency, and independent scrutiny. In some instances, these actions may act as sort of remedy in curbing corruption.

Lecturers, populace, bosses or superiors always claim in the chorus that what they receive are gifts, not bribes. Whatever the perceptions, a gift like a light in the science of Physics, has dual nature; that is, it can be a blessing or a bribe. The judgment in receiving gifts as ethical, proper, appropriate or blessing is yours and it is irrevocable. The book of Revelation reveals everything, as follows; Rev 22:11-12;

11 Let the sinner continue to sin and the defiled remain in his defilement; let the righteous continue to do what is right and he who is holy grow holier.”

12 “I am coming soon, bringing with me the salary I will pay to each one according to his deeds.

 So be it! And glory to God in the Highest.