The embers still glowing, smoke rising and fire surging. The bushfire in Victoria has stupefied the whole nation. Families torn. Houses destroyed. People died and some dying. Identities erased. Personal belongings charred.
It is hard to understand the intensity of this catastrophe when you're merely hearing it from the news. Although bushfires are fairly common here in Australia, nothing has prepared anyone to this severity. Brought about by changing weather, several heat waves whipped across Victoria and Adelaide the last few weeks. The actual mass fatality from burning and smoke inhalation was precedented by deaths from exhaustion and dehydration due to the rise of temperature down south. It's alarming when you see articles in the news saying Northern Territory is the coolest place in Australia nowadays, when Northern Territory should be the hottest this time of the year.
Bushfire warnings were issued as experts anticipated these kind of occurrence during bushfire seasons. But the breach between warnings and apprehensions has proven to be as devastating as it is when Tsunami hits a shore. No one can ever predict the fervor of any calamities irrespective of any forecasts.
The death toll stood at 181 this afternoon but experts warned it can go up to 250, as the search goes on for the 80 who are missing. There were reports that dead people were found inside cars trying to get away from the fires but got caught
One town with 200 inhabitants lost 15% of it's population to the fire. In my almost 15 years of residency here in Australia, I've witnessed cyclones, floods and bushfires. However, they are nothing near in comparison to this. This is by far the biggest devastation I have ever witnessed since I came here. I am not in Victoria but I can feel the percussion this bushfire has befallen in every Australian.
A politician here in the NT, one who witnessed cyclone Tracey as well as this bushfire, said she'd rather relive Cyclone Tracy than this.
It started over the weekend when an arsonist started the Gippsland fires which somehow spread across the state. Coupled with strong winds and extremely high temperatures, it was the perfect concoction for a super bushfire.
There are photos surfacing of people deliberately lighting fires around bushfire prone areas. You sort of wonder what are in the minds of these people. What do they expect? What do they get out of it? Do they have some kind of fantasy to get burned? Why?
What we know is that this act is nothing short of MURDER, worst than murder. It's mass murder. I strongly suggest that the arsonist responsible for this bushfire should be burned to death. When I saw the desolation the victims were going through, looking for loved ones and trying so desperately to salvage anything from the ruins that may help them prove who they are at the very least...I thought to my self, why am I complaining about my old, atrocious and faded quilt cover?
Although we get a lot of rain here in the Northern Territory, we also have the dry season, which can also lead to bushfires. These photos I've posted are actual bushfires that happened in front of our house last year after we've just come back from holiday. It's the area where I took the sunset photo, which I've posted previously. It may look safe because you could actually see a fire truck containing the lit area. But it still looked and felt scary because I can physically feel the heat and hear the creaking sounds even when I was several meters away from the fire.
In times like this, you can really see the Australian spirits trying to surge amidst devastation. You can also see in them the 'bayanihan' spirit that we, Filipinos, so nurture within our society. It's this spirit that made them survive Cyclone Tracy, the Bali bombing and the Port Arthur massacre.
Estranging my self from my roots and culture is virtually impossible. I even make sure that my son knows and understands more of it than he's meaning to take on. But in tragedies like this, I am very appreciative of the fact I am also an Australian. An Australian who feels the pain that the whole nation is feeling right now. How the nation stands so dignified after the many catharses it's gone over and around throughout it's young history is a classic example of real Aussie vitality. Something to get inspiration from, and something to learn from.
Filipinos might say, " mabuhay ang Pilipino!!!"
Aussies go, "AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE OI! OI! OI!"
More better, "NO WORRIES MATE!"