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What's the role of vulnerable sectors in disaster preparedness?


MANILA, Philippines – "Are we just going to be victims, or can we be agents of change?"

During the first day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness on Friday, July 7, advocates talked about the role of vulnerable sectors in the movement for climate action and disaster resilience.

Climate Change Commission's Rina Atienza said that while women are the most vulnerable demographic when it comes to climate change, it's also women who are leading the change in addressing the effects of climate change.

"The world is looking at us. Climate change is a global issue with local implications. Are we leaders or victims?" Atienza asked, urging also the men to "be part of this feminist solution."

What about the children and the youth?

Javier Bornstein, emergency and disaster risk reduction officer of UNICEF, also noted that children are the most exposed to climate change, with a "very high number" of them living in the most vulnerable areas in the Philippines.

"Children are more vulnerable physiologically to climate change's effects…. Children are more likely to get injured by impacts of typhoons and other disasters," Bornstein explained.

But many times, he said, children and youth are not consulted and properly included in decision-making processes.

"I think that's a key issue why our children are more vulnerable, because their specific needs and vulnerabilities many times go unnoticed because they are not given the voice to express the risk that only [they] can perceive. [It's] important to give them a voice," Bornstein added.

Actor and YesPinoy Foundation chair Jose Sixto "Dingdong" Dantes III agreed, saying the youth are vulnerable because they are not included in the process of planning and implementing.

"Imagine, what if we include them in the process? What if we empower them more, put them in the NDRRMC, put them in the PDRRMC? What if we get their inputs? We will understand more some of the issues, because I believe aside from being just volunteers, the youth sector can do so much more. We just need to empower them," Dantes said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Paul Pangilinan, commissioner-at-large of the National Youth Commission (NYC), said the often-misunderstood millennials are actually the "number one eco-warriors in the country."

"Millennials we know don't settle for mediocre roles. They're proactive," he said, citing the NYC's #NowPH campaign which "was primarily powered by tech-savvy millennials."

Pangilinan said social media played a huge role in the campaign that garnered 3 million climate action pledges – over and beyond the target of 1 million.

Dantes, who was part of the #NowPH campaign as former NYC commissioner, said the key now is consistency.

"Hindi pwedeng matapos sa isang stage lang, isang season lang (It can't end with just one stage, just one season). We have to do it repeatedly and influence others in the process," he added.

Lifestyle change

On Friday, Atienza said infrastructure is also to blame for why many of the sectors mentioned are highly vulnerable to climate change.

"The way that our cities, barangays, shelters, coastal communities are built, we really have to look at the way we build things. Local government units right now are trying to address this," she explained.

Atienza said it is important to "look at how we live" and to reconsider the way we build our infrastructure.

"As part of our mandate as the Climate Change Commission, we are working with all national government agencies, civil society organizations, NGOs, to try and address the way that we live. That's why we say it's a lifestyle change. How are we living? Our houses, our livelihoods, where are they positioned? Is it near the storm surge, is it a flood-prone area? Is that where landslides occur?"

Bryan McClelland, founder of socio-ecological enterprise Bambike, agreed with Atienza.

"On a certain level, an individual can only say or do so much. I think policies have to be in place and enforced. So regional zoning, proper management of developments. So both private and public sector, people who are building community developments or infrastructure in certain areas, need to know: Is this a geohazard? Is this on a floodplain? Is this going to be hit over and over again? And should we or should we not build here?"

He urged the audience to start thinking about development "in terms of lives" – regardless of what the private interests and profitability might be. 

"[It's] taking a step back and saying, 'Should we even be in this place to begin with, or should we allow reconstruction in certain areas when we know the vulnerability factor will be there ever present and increasingly?"

Organized by Rappler's civic engagement arm MovePH, the first-ever Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness will run until Saturday, July 8.

The two-day summit aims to bring together key stakeholders, tackle pressing issues, and learn from good practices that mitigated risks or achieved zero casualties in a disaster scenario. – Rappler.com

Metro Manila should learn from Leyte earthquake – Phivolcs


WARNING. Phivolcs geologist Charmaine Villamin says that past earthquakes provide an abundance of lessons in disaster preparedness. Rappler screengrab

MANILA, Philippines – The earthquake that hit Leyte on Thursday, July 6, is both a warning and a guide for residents of Metro Manila.

This was the analysis of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) geologist Charmaine Villamin when asked to evaluate the Leyte earthquake during the first day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness on Friday, July 7.

"Yung nangyari po sa (What happened in) Leyte, that’s 6.5. That’s almost the same magnitude that we are going to expect, the most probable earthquake that will happen here in Metro Manila," Villamin said.

"Napakababaw nito, just 2 kilometers from the surface. Kapag mababaw po ang lindol, malakas ang impact niya sa ibabaw or mas maraming masisira mas maraming damages sa ibabaw," Villamin added.

([The earthquake] occurred on shallow ground, just two kilometers from the surface. If earthquakes occur on shallow ground, the impact is strong on the surface. There's more destruction on the surface.)

Villamin is comparing the Leyte earthquake to the bitterly-anticipated quake dubbed the "Big One" that comes with the movement of the West Valley Fault traversing the National Capital Region (NCR).

With the close level of magnitude, Villamin said there is much to be learned from the recent shake. The post-disaster photos alone point to substandard architecture for disaster.

"[Of the] few photos that came in, [they were] photos of damaged buildings. Just by looking at the pictures what we see, they are substandard," Villamin said.

Based on this, Villamin warned residents to make sure that the houses and buildings are adequately reinforced to withstand quakes.

"For the existing buildings, those that are more than 50 meters and above, they are required to have seismic instrumentation. So dapat may ilagay na instrumento (So there should be an instrument) that would monitor the situation of the building in case there is groundshaking," Villamin said. This was in response to a question by someone in the audience who asked asked if high-rise buildings in the metro are safe.

Secretariat head of the Metro Manila Shake Drill Ramon Santiago added that they spotted another problem in the Leyte quake: panic.

"Maraming injuries ay hindi dahil sa nabagsakan, pero dahil nagpanic, tulad ng nangyari sa Leyte, siguro 50% gawa ng takbuhan. No regard for their own safety," he said.

(Many injuries [from the quake] were not because of falling debris, but because of panic, just like what happened in Leyte, around 50% of the injured were hurt because of stampedes. No regard for their own safety.)

"If they know how to move around, how to protect themselves, we can reduce the element of panic," Santiago said, stressing the importance of the 4-day Metro Manila Shake Drill.

Aside from reinforcing buildings, Villamin urged the public to look at more photos – even of photos of other earthquakes – then do one task: Imagine.

"Gamitin po natin yung scenario na yun para ma-imagine natin kung ano yung specific scenario natin sa ating mga pamilya, sa loob ng mga tahanan, sa loob ng mga paaralan kung tayo po ay mga guro, kung tayo po ay aktibo sa simbahan, as a mere citizen gamitin po natin yun upang magamit natin ang tamang imahinasyon," Villamin said.

(Let us use that scenario to imagine our own specific scenario [should an earthquake happen where we are] such as when we are with our families, when we are inside our homes, inside the schools if we are teachers, if we are active in the church, as a mere citizen let us use our correct imagination.)

With the future earthquake probably pounding at around 6.5, why is the metro preparing for a 7.2-magnitude shake? To prepare for the worst.

"Because sometimes in our planning, we would like to use the worst case scenario. It’s going to be a magnitude 7.2 earthquake, that’s the maximum credible earthquake that the West Valley Fault will generate," Villamin said.

The Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness was organized by MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm and will continue until July 8, Saturday, where more experts are expected to share insights on how to best prepare for times of disaster, especially when the big ones strike. – Rappler.com

#ZeroCasualty trends nationwide on Day 1 of Agos Summit


MANILA, Philippines – What can you commit to make #ZeroCasualty a reality?

On Friday, July 7, disaster management experts, responders, policy makers, and volunteers gathered for the first-ever Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness at the Samsung Hall of the SM Aura mall in Taguig.

The first of the two-day summit highlights the climate action initiated by the youth and women, including LGU preparedness efforts during disasters.

The event's main hashtag, #ZeroCasualty peaked at number 2 among trending topics in the Philippines as of 10:40am:

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We&#39;re currently trending! Let&#39;s mainstream the conversation on disaster preparedness. Tweet your pledge using <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash">#ZeroCasualty</a>! <a href="https://t.co/Y8GTOnLJws">pic.twitter.com/Y8GTOnLJws</a></p>&mdash; Agos (@agos) <a href="https://twitter.com/agos/status/883154071997132800">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

Based on Reach, Rappler's social listening tool, #ZeroCasualty generated over 318 million impressions from 7am to 7pm today. Twitter impressions are the estimated number of people who have seen the hashtag on their feed. 

The hashtag also garnered over 1400 tweets from 474 unique Twitter users. According to TweetReach, the hashtag potentially reached over 3.4 million Twitter users in a span of 12 hours.

Screenshot from Reach

Here's a visualization of the Twitter community who joined the discussion online using #ZeroCasualty:

Screenshot from Reach

Among the top influencers in the discussion are Rappler, MovePHPhilippine Red Cross, Climate Change Commission, and MMDA.

Here are some of the tweets during the summit:


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Today is the day! Check out our booths at the XChange for Agos Summit! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash">#ZeroCasualty</a> <a href="https://t.co/KsPDDia5tY">pic.twitter.com/KsPDDia5tY</a></p>&mdash; MovePH (@MovePH) <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/status/883108601811746816">July 6, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thank you, <a href="https://twitter.com/yespinoy">@yespinoy</a>&#39;s <a href="https://twitter.com/iamdongdantes">@iamdongdantes</a> for visiting our booth here at Samsung Hall, SM Aura! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash">#ZeroCasualty</a> <a href="https://t.co/1AHdF1OMoL">pic.twitter.com/1AHdF1OMoL</a></p>&mdash; Philippine Red Cross (@philredcross) <a href="https://twitter.com/philredcross/status/883187100383715328">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What makes women, children and young people vulnerable? - Their lack of voice and their disempowerment. - The panel now at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash">#ZeroCasualty</a> <a href="https://t.co/eIXkrmmjcz">pic.twitter.com/eIXkrmmjcz</a></p>&mdash; Humanitarian Academy (@AcademyHum) <a href="https://twitter.com/AcademyHum/status/883172861350821889">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">.<a href="https://twitter.com/iamdongdantes">@iamdongdantes</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/yespinoy">@yespinoy</a> : Climate change cannot be stopped or reversed, but we can minimize its effects. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash">#ZeroCasualty</a> <a href="https://t.co/pQDwO0R1RW">pic.twitter.com/pQDwO0R1RW</a></p>&mdash; CCC Philippines (@CCCPHL) <a href="https://twitter.com/CCCPHL/status/883168636801662977">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&quot;The millennials we know seed things differently. The millennials we know are proactive.&quot; <br>-Paul Pangilinan, NYC<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash">#ZeroCasualty</a></p>&mdash; CV (@ClydeJayvy) <a href="https://twitter.com/ClydeJayvy/status/883160290006671360">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Hachi, a K-9 in training, is ready to make <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash">#ZeroCasualty</a> a reality! <a href="https://t.co/ufUi3yt5Yy">pic.twitter.com/ufUi3yt5Yy</a></p>&mdash; Marian Plaza (@mngplaza) <a href="https://twitter.com/mngplaza/status/883208018258649088">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

During the afternoon session, #MMShakeDrill was also used as the summit shifted its focus toward the metro-wide earthquake drill which will be held from July 14 to 17, 2017. This drill aims to test the metro’s response to a possible 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

This secondary hashtag generated over 129 million impressions based on 142 tweets from 61 unique Twitter users. Here are some tweets during the event:

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Getting ready for the big one! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mmda?src=hash">#mmda</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/teamMMDA?src=hash">#teamMMDA</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MMShakeDrill?src=hash">#MMShakeDrill</a><a href="https://t.co/44A6GJsnJP">https://t.co/44A6GJsnJP</a></p>&mdash; Official MMDA (@MMDA) <a href="https://twitter.com/MMDA/status/883181048934285312">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">MovePH Exec Dir <a href="https://twitter.com/rupertambil">@rupertambil</a> teaching individuals about the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MMShakeDrill?src=hash">#MMShakeDrill</a> <a href="https://t.co/kTMWRDWXbA">pic.twitter.com/kTMWRDWXbA</a></p>&mdash; Lou (@sapientialis) <a href="https://twitter.com/sapientialis/status/883235964880961536">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MMShakedrill?src=hash">#MMShakedrill</a> map demo now at SM Aura. <a href="https://t.co/KpuaejbE0Z">pic.twitter.com/KpuaejbE0Z</a></p>&mdash; Lyn Garcia (@lynvgarcia) <a href="https://twitter.com/lynvgarcia/status/883235468669730816">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The most interesting part of the summit is the panel discussion hope to learn new things about the shake drill <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MMshakedrill?src=hash">#MMshakedrill</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash">#ZeroCasualty</a> <a href="https://t.co/rFJVlDtRaA">pic.twitter.com/rFJVlDtRaA</a></p>&mdash; Pavan (@SIRPAVAN444) <a href="https://twitter.com/SIRPAVAN444/status/883210737866350592">July 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

Were you a part of those who joined today's discussion on disaster preparedness? Which part of the program struck you most? Tweet us @rapplerdotcom or write about it on X!

In case you missed it, you can watch first day of the Agos Summit here. Join us again tomorrow for the final day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness as we talk about disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Bookmark this page to watch live. – Rappler.com

Pet dogs can be trained for search and rescue operations – MMDA


K9 HELP. Day 1 of the AGOS Summit on Disater Preparedness at the SM Aura Samsung Hall in Taguig on July 6, 2017.

MANILA, Philippines – In the wake of destruction and natural calamities, how do you respond to thousands of people who will be in need of assistance? This is a question that Ramon Santiago, Secretariat Head of the Metro Manila Shake Drill, continiously tries to find answers to.

While traditional responses, such as the use of equipment, is carried out widely,  Santiago said a commonly overlooked resource in disaster response is dogs.

“When we started doing some organization and disaster preparedness, we always look at the outside source of instruments and equipment so that we can save people. But what we have overlooked is that dogs are very good searchers; a lot better than humans.”

An idea that started in 2012, Santiago called on public to volunteer their dogs for the Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) K9 search and rescue (SAR) team during the first day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedeness.

Santiago said the MMDA’s target would be to have trained dogs in each of the metro’s major quadrants mapped out by the MMDA. Further in the future would be to have trained dogs in majority of barangays.

TRAINED. Pictured is Hachi, a volunteer dog trained in the MMDA K9 SAR program.

He also explained the volunteer K9 SAR team complemented other efforts carried out by the MMDA.

Makakatulong siya eh. Hindi 100% pero mapapbilis yung trabaho namin kaysa yung mga other training namin,” said Santiago.

(It helps. It may not be 100% full proof but it speeds up the work compared to our other trainings) 

Nevertheless, it is an effort that has brought results.

Santiago shared that 2 trained dogs were present in search and rescue operations after the Bohol quake and were able to find 3 bodies missed by human efforts.

“When we search for trapped people, you shout and shout until you hear a response or there’s tapping so we're just trying to complement that with either expensive tools or another tool which is really the nose of the dog,” said Santiago.

EFFORTS. Santiago at Day 1 of the AGOS Summit on Disater Preparedness at the SM Aura Samsung Hall in Taguig on July 6, 2017.

Santiago also said that even pet dogs could be trained regardless of their breed."Dogs can be taught. One thing I could assure you is dogs, regardless of breeds, you can teach them how to find things using their nose."

Dogs are trained in 4 key areas of response: tracking, trailing, air scenting, and scent discrimination. 

He likewise added that training dogs is much cheaper compared to the use of equipment, which can cost up to millions and remains sparse around the metro. 

“We’ll buy gadgets so that if there are collapsed structures, we have tools. But these are expensive tools. Right now, there are barely a hundred of these tools combined in Metro Manila and it costs about P5 million,” Santiago said in a mix of English and Filipino.

In addition to high costs, Santiago said such equipment needed to be charged and was dependent on power, which in the case of natural disasters, is a resource that is not only unreliable but also possibly unavailable.

“(The equipment is also) dependent on power so if there is no power, we are not able to charge them. If you want to charge them, you have to buy another device,” he said. 

Halos lahat din may limitations. Yung mga equipment, meron din... (Almost everything has its limitations. Even our equipment has limits…) but when we're faced with scenarios like this (natural disasters) is, everyone is welcome.” said Santiago. 

Loriet Visto, a core member of the MMDA K9 Corps team, said dog-owners can volunteer their pets in MMDA's volunteer K9 training program by searching the MMDA K9 Corps Facebook page and filing out the online registration from found on the group's page. 

The Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness brings together key stakeholders to tackle key issues and share best practices, which aim to achieve a zero casualty outcome in response to natural calamities.  

The summit is organized by MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, and will run until Saturday, July 8. – Rappler.com   

How to prepare when disaster and emergency strike


Day 1 of the AGOS Summit on Disater Preparedness at the SM Aura Samsung Hall in Taguig on July 6, 2017.

MANILA, Philippines – When a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit Leyte, Migel Estoque, communications manager of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) was in the middle of a disaster planning session for families of the group’s partner companies. 

Estoque said the irony of the situation made the necessity of disaster preparedeness more urgent. 

"We live life with the assumption that we have time when really, we do not know how much time we have, especially in disasters,” said Estoque.

She said proactive efforts need to be taken to build a culture of resiliency and mitigate risks following natural calamities.

Estoque added this was further amplified by the possibility of a major earthquake in Metro Manila.

“The time to prepare is here and now….Filipinos are known for being resilient but it’s high time we also be known for being proactive,” she said. 

To help address this need, the PDRF shared some steps on the first day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness:

1. Get connected

Estoque said individuals could be more prepared for disasters by “maximizing networks” and reaching out to their social circles, including those among family, friends, the workplace, school, and organizations.

She added that in connecting with these groups, communities could be formed and tapped should a disaster occur. 

In addition to this, Estoque said social media should be used when possible to share and access information before, during, and after a disaster. 

“You need to understand whether there is a plan in place (among those you know) so that you can be helped or be of help to others,” said Estoque. 

2. Gather supplies

Screenshot from PH72 website

After getting connected, the next step would be to gather essential supplies.

Estoque reminded the public of the need to prepare “go-bags,” which could be easily accessed in times of need.

The “go-bags” should contain essential items needed for survival like food, water, clothing, a flashlight, and medicines.

Estoque also mentioned other  important items to be considered, such as copies of personal documents, toys to help calm children, and portable chargers and pocket wifi. 

3. Make a plan

It is also important for individuals to prepare a plan in case of disasters and natural calamities. 

Screenshot for PH72 website

Estoque said a good plan in place is essential in times of chaos when people may be unable to think clearly due to stress or fear. 

“You'll be able to respond with the knowledge that a plan is made and in place so there's a sense of calm in a potential state of chaos,” she said.

Estoque likewise added that one of the major issues that needs to be addressed in disaster preparedeness is a change in the public’s mindset from the possibility of death to one of preparation and action.

“When you think disastrer, you think death. It’s associated with chaos, catastrophe…but it’s important to face this reality because when we do this, we are able to form meaningful decisions and when it comes to disasters, we will be able to be more prepared and more resilient,” she said.

PDRF launched PH72, a website where more information on actions, guides, and tools on emergency prepardeness can be found. 

The Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness brings together key stakeholders to tackle important issues and share best practices, which aim to achieve a zero casualty outcome during natural calamities.

The summit is organized by MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, and will run until Saturday, July 8. –Rappler.com

Legarda shares 9 ways to reduce disaster risks, impact on lives


DISASTER RISK REDUCTION. Senator Loren Legarda shares at least 9 ways Filipinos can help mitigate the impact of disasters on their lives.

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is one of the countries frequently struck by typhoons, earthquakes, and other disaster. But Filipinos can help reduce the impact of these unfortunate events on human lives.

Senator Loren Legarda, a climate change advocate, shared at least 9 adaptation measures that individuals, as well as the government and the private sector, can take to mitigate risks.

Legarda said climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction management should go hand in hand to protect people’s lives.

“For every $1 you invest in disaster risk reduction, you actually save up to $7 of losses. That is scientifically proven. Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction should go together. It should not be one or the other,” Legarda said on the 2nd day of Rappler’s AGOS summit on disaster preparedness held on Saturday, July 8.

“When we invest in disaster risk reduction, we reduce the risks of the adverse impacts of climate change,” she added.

Here are at least 9 ways to do it, according to Legarda:

1. Multi-hazard early warning systems

Disasters now rarely cause one hazard alone, said Legarda. Citing the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, she said there were storm surges, strong winds, and landslides that the government and the public had to deal with. 

To avoid a repeat of the aftermath of such disasters, she said the national and the local government should communicate to the public “early enough” the possible risks and hazards they may face with an expected disaster.

“If there were early warning systems in place, or if it was communicated...early enough for them to be informed, then they would have left," she said.

"Puwedeng may soil erosion, landslide, o nasira bahay o eskuwelahan, pero di namatay (There could have been soil erosion, landslide, or destruction of houses or schools, but people won't die)," she said.

It is also important to communicate the information properly, citing the country's diverse culture and dialects. She also cited the need need to integrate government expertise for a holistic approach.

“There is a need to integrate expertise, systems, services. PAGASA for hydro, Phivolcs for seismic hazards, DENR-MGB for landslide or land risk. And to establish an  integrated risk information system for our country,” the senator said.

2. Rain water catchment facilities

The Philippines, despite having one of the longest coastlines in the world, is still subjected to drought.

One way to address this is through the creation of rainwater catchment facilities, which individuals can also build in their own homes. The trapped rainwater can then be used to water plants, farms, or fields.

“The Philippines is always subject to drought. That's unconscionable for a country with a long coastline. Through DPWH or DILG, they must create rain water harvesters. Imagine if we just collect rainwater,” Legarda said.

3. Seed banks

“We must have seedbanks. Seed banks preserve indigenous trees. Mawawala mga puno, di bale kung merong maitatanim muli. Eh kung wala na, indigenous species, kaisa-isang balete tree o kaisa-isang ironwood (These trees will disappear unless they are replaced. What if there's nothing left of our indigenous species, the last balete tree or the last ironwood)? There could be indigenous species wiped out by floods, uprooted by earthquakes,” Legarda said.

4. Mangroves

Mangroves or bakawan are crucial against storm surges. (READ: Mangroves are PH’s best shield vs climate change)

Legarda said during Yolanda, areas with mangroves suffered lesser impact than those without.

GEMS. A mangrove sanctuary in Bohol thrives under an ecotourism program. File photo

“When there are no mangroves, storm surges wipe out the population, infrastructure, livelihood. Mangrove is so important for coastal protection. It's a beautiful barricade against storm surge, tsunami, and puwede pang bahay ng mga isda (they are also fish nurseries),” Legarda said.

5. Indigenous knowledge

The knowledge of indigenous groups on the environment and agriculture should be documented for preservation and for future practice.

“'Wag balewalain. 'Yan ang yaman natin, nauna pa ating katutubo (Let's not disregard that. That's our treasure, the indigenous people were first). They have indigenous knowledge for culture, agriculture, environment that we should document," she said.

6. Rooftop gardens

Households can easily do this. If rooftops are not available, a small garden will do. Many commercial establishments have also included this in their practice.

7. Roadside ditches

There is a need for this because roads without gutters get flooded easily.

“The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Public Works and Highways should know this. Ang kalsada na walang kanal, siyempre babaha. Common sense, dapat may daluyan ng tubig (roads without gutters get flooded. Common sense, there should be a water outlet).

8. Seawall construction

SEAWALL CONSTRUCTION NEEDED. The MMDA has lined the seawall along Manila Bay with sandbags to cushion any possible storm surge on July 16, 2014.

This is a back-up for mangroves for the protection against storm surges. But Legarda emphasized that planting mangroves is still better: “Aside from being beautiful, it’s more effective.”

9. Drills for disaster response

THE BIG ONE. Filipino volunteers at Intramuros participated in a nationwide Earthquake drill in 2015. File photo

This includes practicing of drills (earthquake drill, fire drill, tsunami drill) for disaster response to save lives and reduce risks and other issues. – Rappler.com

Agos eBayanihan: 'Be information responders'


AGOS. Move.PH Executive Director Rupert Ambil II talks about the Agos eBayanihan platform during the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness. Screenshot from Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler relaunched its Agos eBayanihan Platform on Saturday, July 8, during the second day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness.

"Kailangan po natin [ng information]. Kahit po mayroon tayong 10 million sacks of rice, if you don't know where to put it, kung saan natin puwedeng ilagay 'yan, saan natin idi-distribute 'yan….Ang first po na action is really to provide information," said Rupert Ambil II, executive director of Move.PH, the civic engagement and citizen journalism arm of Rappler.

(We need information. Even if we have 10 million sacks of rice, if you don't know where to put it, where we will distribute it, it's useless. The first action is really to provide information.)

He added: "We would like to encourage everyone to be information responders. Share the right information."

During the relaunch, Ambil showed the new dashboard of the Agos eBayanihan platform which partners can access during times of disasters.

"Volunteers [and] information responders have been asking us to tweak the technical features of our Agos platform to serve organizations better, kasi individual po ang entry point sa Agos (because the entry point to Agos is for individuals) but now, with the development of the new dashboard, you can see that you can manage reports already in the same platform that you'll be providing reports."

Rappler Content and Strategy Head Gemma Mendoza said that while the Agos alert map is a big part of Agos, "Agos is more than that."

"As journalists, we cover disasters a lot….Year in and year out of covering disasters often, you begin to think, how can things be different? And how can our efforts make more sense? That's the reason why we put up Agos: We want what we do to be more meaningful," Mendoza explained.

She said disaster preparedness used to be neglected in news coverages before, but the level of awareness has improved in the past years.

"The content on Agos has gained millions and millions of page views already. Meaning, that's awareness, that's a reflection of the level of awareness that we have raised over the years for content not just on response, not just during the times when the disasters are already there, but also on content that people can use to prepare to mitigate risks, to prevent disasters to begin with," she added.

Mendoza also introduced Rappler's crowdfunding initiative on Saturday, inviting partners to take part in sustaining Agos.

"The target is P500,000. If we can raise P500,000 for disaster awareness building, for training communities, and for building this platform that can allow us to collaborate, that can allow us to isolate, to find critical needs on the ground when disaster strikes, and will also help our communities appreciate and understand the information they need on a personal level to prepare for disasters and to prevent loss of lives."

You can learn more about Agos and the crowdfunding initiative here. – Rappler.com


Teach people to rebuild homes after disasters, advocate says


AGOS SUMMIT. Day 1 of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness at the SM Aura Samsung Hall in Taguig on July 6, 2017. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Social entrepreneur Illac Diaz, founder of the group Liter of Light, urged officials and advocates to teach communities how to rebuild their homes and assemble structures such as lighting after disasters. 

"When calamity strikes, the people who mostly rebuild villages and homes (are those who have lost them). (They) really build it themselves," Diaz said on Friday, July 8, the first day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedeness.

Diaz, who advocates sustainable lighting, explained that teaching people to rebuild their homes can make it cheaper to reconstruct towns and cities. 

He added that teaching them to rebuild their communities with easy-to-find resources – such as plastic bottles, soil, and bamboo – can do away with the high costs of shipping materials to disaster-stricken areas.

"First of all, 50-70% of your cost is just shipping (the materials). So you put it in a container van, you put it in a box, you ship it. It comes here into the Philippines, plus taxes – how do you think they make money?" Diaz said.

GRASSROOTS. Liter of Light's sustainable solar lighting pitctured on Day 1 of the Agos Summit on Disater Preparedness at the SM Aura Samsung Hall in Taguig on July 6, 2017. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Diaz said, too, that teaching individuals how to reconstruct buildings and access to utilities can sustain not only the structures themselves, but also the community's livelihood.

“If you have to import all the time, you'll notice that your lights would always break, and you'd have to buy a new one because that's their business model," said Diaz.

He added, "How is it that we take away the solution that one person, one company can supply you with, and move it to every local government, province, (so that) they can build their own solar lights as a social entrepreneurship and they can build their own street lights, their house lights, and of course study lights?"

In connection with another project of his, called MyShelter Foundation, Diaz decided to make use of plastic bottles left over from shipments of humanitarian goods.

For every 5 bottles used to rebuild structures, one is used to create a solar-powered light source.

Disaster preparedness

During the Agos Summit, Diaz also said it is important to learn to transform everyday objects into useful items during disasters and emergencies.

HANDMADE. Pictured is one of Liter of Light's plastic solar powered lights on the first day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness.

"Even in disaster, it's not just clothes or food (needed), but especially here in Metro Manila, if there's a massive earthquake, it's not that you'll be able to go to your 7-Eleven and buy batteries. You really have to start teaching people, especially in a massive disaster, to be able to make their own lights," he said.

For example, Liter of Light has used not only plastic bottles, but also discarded batteries still in working conditon. The recycled batteries, which help to power different models of solar lights, come from devices like e-cigarettes, computers, and emergency lights.

Recently, Liter of Light also started to convert lamparas or kerosene lamps into solar powered lights.

As these lamparas are fire hazards, Diaz noted that their target was to teach people how to convert kerosene lamps into solar lights. 

Liter of Light is present in several countries all over the world, and has helped give light to about a million homes worldwide. 

The Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness brought together key stakeholders to tackle key issues and share best practices, which aim to achieve a zero-casualty outcome when calamities strike.

The summit was organized by MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm, and ran until Saturday, July 8. – Rappler.com

Gordon likens preparing for disasters to ‘symphony orchestra’


GEARING UP VS DISASTERS. Senator Richard Gordon, Philippine Red Cross chairman, speaks at Rappler's AGOS summit on disaster preparedness on July 8. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Predict, plan, prepare, practice.

These are the "4Ps" guiding the Philippine Red Cross as the humanitarian organization gears for its operations during typhoons, earthquakes, and other disasters in the country.

Senator Richard Gordon, Philippine Red Cross chairman, shared some of their best practices on the second day of Rappler’s AGOS summit on disaster preparedness held on Saturday, July 8.

He explained that disaster preparedness, rescue, and rehabilitation require detailed planning, sufficient manpower, the proper equipment, and a high level of commitment from volunteers.

“If you want to prepare for a disaster, you’ve got to have a symphony orchestra – all the humanitarian movement, with all the doctors, nurses, all the people working together, all the logistics you need to go, working with the government,” said Gordon. 

‘Di kayo nagpapataasan ng yabang, pero (You’re not trying to outperform each other, but) you’re working together,” he added. (READ: Red Cross taps small cell technology for emergency communications)

According to Gordon, this is why the Red Cross has various equipment in its arsenal – boats that go through land and water, tents that can house both equipment and people, water tankers and fire trucks that contain potable water, portalets, showers, Humvees, 6x6 trucks, and motorcycles.  

They also have various warehouses and wing vans to store these equipment. The organization even has the M/V Amazing Grace, the biggest humanitarian and disaster response vessel in the country.

Fast response on the ground

In his speech, Gordon said this mindset allowed the Red Cross to extend help to affected residents when government troops clashed with members of the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Marawi City.  

“You can see in Marawi, we’re there. We’ve been able to help right away from day one,” said Gordon.

Red Cross was able to set up along the highway out of Marawi to provide hot meals to residents fleeing the city. The organization also provided 4 trucks containing 10,000 liters of water each, which were used for portalets and improvised showers.  

“So you see, you have to improvise. You need innovation. You need to organize ahead to predict the danger. You have to plan for the danger. You have to have manpower. You have to have the resources, the logistics. And you have to know to get it done,” said Gordon.

He also stressed the importance of having a committed team of volunteers – the Red Cross "army."

“In knowing what you’re fighting against, you always have to remember, like I use the words si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war). We are in a war, and therefore you have to have an army,” said Gordon. 

“And what is the best army in the room? It is the army of committed people who want to volunteer – not because they want self-worth but because they want to make a difference in the lives of the people, especially when it’s very, very gory and very, very difficult,” he added. – Rappler.com

Disaster imagination: 3 steps toward disaster preparedness


'DISASTER IMAGINATION.' Science Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr discusses 'disaster imagination' at the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – "If not for disaster imagination, your preparedness may not be appropriate."

This was the statement of Renato Solidum Jr, Department of Science and Technology undersecretary for disaster risk reduction and climate change, during his speech at the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness on Saturday, July 8.

According to Solidum, while disaster preparedness is important, people will only be convinced to prepare after they have internalized what can happen to them and their family in times of disasters.

"We need [imagination] for disaster preparedness. We need to have science-based – not only based on experience – hazard and risk scenarios for extreme events like earthquakes, super typhoons, tsunamis, storm surges, and big volcanic eruptions," he added.

But Solidum emphasized that risk imagination needs to be applied not only at the local level, but also at the regional and national levels.

"Extreme events cannot be prepared for singly by the local government. Extreme events must be prepared for, orchestrated at the national or regional level; otherwise, if we don't have these scenarios and no conductor, our efforts we think are good, but these will not be aligned. And when these large-scale disasters will occur, we will find out that we are not working as a whole to prevent large-scale disasters."

Here are 3 things to do when imagining a disaster:

  1. Identify all the hazards in the place of interest. This can be one's house, office, building, or in the case of a mayor, the town.

  2. Depending on the scale of the hazards, determine the areas that can be affected. In the case of an earthquake, Solidum said one must find out which areas will be affected or not.

    "You pinpoint those areas that will not be affected to be the ones helping those that will be affected."

  3. Assess not only the hazard but also the impact. This means counting buildings, houses, and structures that will be damaged, the number of people who will die or get injured, and even the economic losses and social interruption. "We need to do that so that we can prepare plans to save lives and countermeasures like engineering and non-engineering solutions to reduce the risks."

    The assessment of impact also involves evaluating critical facilities such as ports, airports, and hospitals, and preparing plans on how to respond so that these facilities can be operational immediately after a disaster.

    "We have to define what we call a recovery time objective, a deadline when we will operate these. If we don't put a deadline... it will be a slow process, and people will complain. And this has been the most serious sickness in many of our plans. If we have a preparedness to respond before a disaster, then we also have a preparedness to recover and everything will be tackled and be back to normal as soon as possible." 

Imagining a Metro Manila quake

During his speech, Solidum gave an example of disaster imagination by imagining a West Valley Fault earthquake in Metro Manila.

"Let us say if, for example, we transport the Leyte earthquake to Manila, the death in Leyte is so far two, the death in Metro Manila will be 23,000. Why? Because of the number of buildings and houses, the number of people, and the fact that there are non-engineered buildings here," Solidum said, referring to the magnitude-6.5 earthquake that struck the province of Leyte on Thursday, July 6.

The casualties are estimated to be higher in the event of a magnitude-7.2 earthquake: 31,000 deaths. Thousands are also estimated to sustain serious to very serious injuries during both scenarios.

"What we should do though is reduce the number of victims by strengthening the houses and buildings. That's a lot, and we will need P2.3 trillion ($45.45 billion)* to recover and build back houses and buildings, and that is almost 1 year annual budget of the government – budget intended to be distributed in all regions of the Philippines," Solidum explained.

He added: "So a big earthquake affecting Manila will not only directly affect Manila and surrounding provinces; it will indirectly affect the whole country."

Solidum then urged the audience to monitor hazards, warn areas that can be warned if the event can be forecasted, and share information that is important to people.

"[Our] role [is to] properly and timely respond to this information. We need to make sure we are in a safe location, that our houses and buildings have been done so that we have a safe construction. We need to prepare our own lives, our own assets and businesses. We also need to prepare in case this event would happen, and most importantly recover as soon as possible."

Doing all these based on disaster imagination "can not only make the Philippines a place that is more fun to visit, but a place which is more safe to live in," Solidum added.

Solidum's speech concluded the two-day Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness organized by Rappler's civic engagement arm MovePH. – Rappler.com

*US$1 = P50.61

Phivolcs finds ground rupture in quake-hit Leyte


WAITING FOR REPAIRS. Residents gather by a road damaged by the quake. Photo by Gelo Litonjua

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) found the ground rupture caused by the magnitude-6.5 earthquake that hit Leyte province on Thursday, July 6. 

"This afternoon, I got a report that indeed the ground rupture was found in Barangay Tongonan in Ormoc. Of course, it's the epicenter area," Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr told Rappler on the sidelines of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness on Saturday, July 8. 

Solidum is the officer in charge of Phivolcs.

Earlier, the epicenter of the earthquake that left at least two people dead and more than a hundred injured was located 15.5 kilometers northeast of Ormoc City with a focal depth of two kilometers.

EPICENTER. The epicenter of the earthquake that left at least two people dead and over a hundred injured was located 15.5 kilometers northeast of Ormoc City with a focal depth of two kilometers. Image courtesy of Phivolcs

Phivolcs is still determining the extent of the ground rupture, but with the magnitude of the earthquake, it could stretch about 20 kilometers across the area, according to Solidum.

The earthquake was generated by the movement of what Phivolcs has recently called the Leyte Segment of the Philippine Fault. 

According to Phivolcs, Eastern Visayas, including Leyte, is one of the seismically active areas in the country because of the Philippine Fault and the Philippine Trench, the main earthquake generators that can affect the area. Other local faults are potential causes of small- to large-magnitude earthquakes.


Phivolcs has deployed a 25-member team of experts to Leyte not only to find the ground rupture but also to conduct Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring of coastal and fault movements and associated earthquake hazards.

The seismic monitoring network of Phivolcs has already recorded nearly 500 aftershocks since the strong earthquake struck. 

"More aftershocks – most of which were felt during the first day – were felt in the area. Since then, aftershocks have slightly decreased," Solidum said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

Affected residents should have their houses assessed by authorities before they could return to their homes, Solidum said.

In his speech at the Agos Summit, Solidum shared other steps toward disaster preparedness. (WATCH: Disaster imagination: 3 steps toward disaster preparedness) – Rappler.com

Bring disaster preparedness down to communities – DILG exec


FRONTLINE. Local governments are the first responders to every disaster, says DILG undersecretary Austere Panadero. Rappler screengrab

MANILA, Philippines— Disaster preparedness needs to be brought down to the community level.

Austere Panadero, undersecretary at the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), aired this sentiment on Saturday, July 8, at the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness. Panadero said the problem stems from changes in leadership in local government units (LGUs) – when disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) officers, for example, come and go depending on the mayor. (READ: The role of LGUs, local councils during disasters)

"May problema tayo sa LGU level. Every 3 years nagpapalit ng leadership, at sometimes kapag bago ang mayor, bago ang DRRM officer, and that's why there are people who do not understand their job," said Panadero. (We have a problem at the LGU level. Every 3 years, leadership changes, and sometimes when the mayor gets replaced, the DRRM officer comes with him. That's why there are people who do not understand their job.)

Panadero pointed out that it questionable, for instance, that some LGUs seek help from national agencies just on the first day of a disaster.

As a solution, Panadero discussed Oplan Listo, the DILG's capacity-development and disaster response program which initially involved giving the local government leaders manuals on how to respond to calamity so that they know what to do when disaster strikes.

Moving from the LGU level, Oplan Listo later extended down to the community and family level with manuals also tailored for civic groups and families.

Panadero emphasized that the expansion was because the preparation needs to go down to the family level and must not stay at the LGU level alone.

"At the end of the day it’s the behavior at the family level that leads to preparedness," Panadero said.

PREPARED. According to Cagayan governor Manuel Mamba, disaster preparedness needs to be instilled to communities. Rappler screengrab

Aside from this, even local governments have taken the initiative to provide disaster response frameworks that empower civic groups.

Cagayan experience

An example is Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba whose province faced Super Typhoon Haima (Lawin) in 2014.

There were only 5 casualties in the province—a low number considering it was a super typhoon.

He said owes the success from volunteer groups he called agkakaisa, who are their "first responders," numbering today at 144,000 all over Cagayan. They mobilized to prepare for the super typhoon when its landfall was announced.

He then initiated a "neighbor and force evacuation" program where vulnerable people were asked to evacuate, and those with stable homes were asked to take in evacuees.

"Kasama dito ang mga simbahan na binuksan ang kanilang mga pinto maging sa mga kababayan na hindi kaanib sa kanilang relihiyon (Included are churches that opened their doors to their countrymen who are not part of their religion)," Manuel said in the Agos forum.

Ever since this happened, Mamba shared, they have also been fostering a culture of volunteerism by incentivizing local government units who have "people empowerment offices" that connect with the volunteer groups.

"Each barangay [gets] P300,000 provided that people empowerment offices are in place," Mamba said.

As a final word of advice for fellow local government leaders, Mamba said: "I'd go down to the [community] level; the barangay is too huge already. Para sa akin they're the more efficient partner for me, ever since I was a mayor (For me they are more efficient partners, ever since I was a mayor)." – Rappler.com

Rappler, Philippine Red Cross ink tie-up on disaster preparedness


PARTNERSHIP. Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and Philippine Red Cross Chairman and Senator Richard Gordon inks the memorandum of agreement for disaster risk reduction. Photo from Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) are partnering on a project to educate a wider audience about disaster preparedness and risk reduction by maximizing the internet, especially social media.

The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Agreement during the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness on Saturday, July 8, to “design and implement an online civic engagement campaign to share information and content for the public benefit.”

Rappler will share real-time updates on reports of infrastructure damage, rescue, and weather news from the public and volunteers before, during, and after the occurrence of a disaster. 


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">AGOS Summit 2017: Rappler partners with the Philippine Red Cross for AGOS Summit 2017. Watch live on <a href="https://t.co/qJPKiQHhp1">https://t.co/qJPKiQHhp1</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash">#ZeroCasualty</a> <a href="https://t.co/4y6ob2EnCU">pic.twitter.com/4y6ob2EnCU</a></p>&mdash; Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom/status/883611121717878784">July 8, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> {/source} 

The news organization will also train Red Cross staff and volunteers on how to use social media as a tool for advocacy and engagement. Rappler will also help disseminate information PRC's initiatives through its website and social media channels.

Philippine Red Cross, on the other hand, will share relevant information to Rappler such as press releases, stories, maps, and statistics.

The PRC will also train Rappler staff on basic life support and first aid. The two organizations will also use the RapplerX platform for information dissemination and public engagement. 

Senator Richard Gordon, PRC chairman, urged the audience in his keynote speech on the second day of the summit to practice the “4Ps: predict, plan, prepare, practice.”

“You have to improvise. You need innovation. You need to organize ahead to predict the danger. You have to plan for the danger. You have to have manpower. You have to have the resources, the logistics. And you have to know to get it done,” said Gordon. 

During the summit, Rappler also relaunched its Agos powered by eBayanihan platform, its disaster information management platform, by introducing the new Agos dashboard which partners can access during times of disasters. – Rappler.com 

Danielle Nakpil is a BA Journalism graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman. She is also a former intern for Rappler's MovePH. 

DSWD gives P3.2M worth of aid to Leyte earthquake survivors


RELIEF. The Department of Social Welfare and Development sends assistance to those affected by the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that hit Leyte on July 6, 2017. Photo from DSWD

MANILA, Philippines – The magnitude 6.5 earthquake that hit Leyte last Thursday, July 6, not only left two people dead and more than a hundred others injured. A total of 1,837 families or 9,185 persons have also been displaced, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Out of the total number of displaced Leyte residents, 73 families or 365 persons are staying in an evacuation center while the rest are staying with relatives and friends.

Based on initial findings, there are a total of 1,764 damaged houses in Eastern Visayas. Of these houses, 1,029 are partially damaged while 735 are totally damaged.

In a statement on Sunday, July 9, the DSWD said it has distributed P3.2 million worth of food and non-food items to affected communities in Kananga and Ormoc City through its field office.

These include 100 family food packs, 200 pieces of malong, 100 blankets, 100 mats, 67 tents from Australia, and one tent from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The families of the two reported fatalities – an 18-year-old woman who died after being hit by falling debris and an unidentified person who died inside a collaped building in Kananga – have received burial assistance from the DSWD. They will also receive an additional P5,000 in the coming week.

Disaster preparedness and resilience

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said the experience of residents in Leyte highlighted the importance of raising awareness and educating the public on disaster preparedness and mitigation.

"The effectiveness of plans for disaster preparedness does not only lie on the government but a collective effort between the state and its citizens. This is the reason why the government continues to engage the public to participate in disaster planning, orientations, exercises and other activities. By participating and working together, we can save more lives," Taguiwalo said.

This was echoed by Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) geologist Charmaine Villamin during the first day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness last Friday, July 7.

Villamin added that the post-earthquake photos alone point to substandard construction.

"[Of the] few photos that came in, [they were] photos of damaged buildings. Just by looking at the pictures that we see, they are substandard," she said.

The Leyte earthquake is both a warning and a guide for residents of Metro Manila, Villamin also stressed.

From July 14 to 17, Metro Manila is poised to conduct a metro-wide earthquake drill in preparation for the so-called "Big One," a major earthquake that could strike with the movement of the West Valley Fault.

In the Philippines, July is National Disaster Resilience Month, with authorities aiming to remind everyone of the need to reduce risks by being prepared for disasters. – Rappler.com 

Rappler Talk: Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez on Leyte earthquake


MANILA, Philippines – What is the situation in Ormoc City and nearby areas after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck the province of Leyte on Monday, July 10? How can other people help families and areas affected by the quake?

MovePH's Voltaire Tupaz talks to Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez on Rappler Talk on Monday, at 6 pm. 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake struck off Ormoc City, Leyte at 9:41 am Monday. Phivolcs said the latest earthquake to hit the province is an aftershock of the strong July 6 tremor that killed at least two people and injured more than a hundered.

Phivolcs also warned that damage is expected following the aftershock. (READ: #EarthquakePH: What to do during aftershocks– Rappler.com


#UsapangPera with Vince Rapisura: Paano magpautang nang tama?


In this episode of "Usapang Pera," social media personality Sinon Loresca (also known as the "Catwalk King") shows wealth management consultant Vince Rapisura a long list of those who owe him money.

Vince provides advice to Sinon on how to extend loans to ensure payment and avoid strains in relationships with families and friends. – Rappler.com


How you can participate in the #MMShakeDrill


MANILA, Philippines – The third metro-wide earthquake drill, known online as the #MMShakeDrill, will be the most ambitious one yet.

For the first time, the annual drill which aims to increase awareness and prepare everyone in case a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hits Metro Manila, will be held for 4 consecutive days, from July 14 to 17. (READ: FAQ: What is the #MMShakeDrill 2017) 

This is a timely event given the country’s observance of the National Disaster Resilience month in July. 

All local government units in Metro Manila, along with the nearby provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna, will take part in the drill, which will be coordinated by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and concerned agencies.

How can you participate in the #MMShakeDrill? Here’s a list of reminders:

  • Prior the event, you can help promote this event by taking pictures and telling us about your individual, family, and community preparations on social media, using #MMShakeDrill. Here are stories about earthquake preparedness which you can share.
  • Make your participation count! To register for reminders and resources from MMDA, sign up for the #MMShakeDrill on the platform designed by Agos powered by eBayanihan team. 
  • On the day of the event, participate in the drill. Whether you are at the office, at school, or inside a building, perform the duck, cover, and hold maneuver for 45 seconds. The alarm will ring at 4 pm. After that, evacuate your building to a pre-determined safe open area. 
  • If you are at home, perform the duck, cover and hold for 45 seconds. You don’t have to evacuate your house. Remember, however, to take note where the nearest barangay evacuation center is located. Have your emergency bag on hand.


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TfD47KXaFMc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


  • Local government units, response teams, and individuals are encouraged to utilize the Agos Alert Map to learn more about information updates and engagement with the public for this earthquake drill. You can directly post updates on the map or tweet on social media. These posts will be automatically gathered by the Agos platform. 
  • Help spread awareness by documenting your #MMShakeDrill activities on social media. You can tweet your photos and reports using the official hashtag. Make sure your location services are turned on. 

One crucial element for disaster preparedness is information awareness. Help spread important information by sharing stories and reports on social media before, during, and after the earthquake drill. 

If you have more questions, send them to move.ph@rappler.com – Rappler.com

Students react to 'no tuition collection' in UP Diliman


MANILA, Philippines – How did UP students react to the news that the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines (UP) will not collect tuition for the first semester of academic year 2017-2018?

UP Diliman's announcement on Tuesday, July 11 got mixed reactions from the UP community.

Some state scholars rejoiced, saying that the announcement is a manifestation of the long-standing struggle for free education, while others remained wary, claiming that it is merely a "temporary suspension."

UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan made the announcement after a meeting with chancellors of other constituent units.

Tan said that until the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) gives clearer guidelines regarding the implementation of the tuition-free policy, they will not collect any amount from students of UP Diliman.

But CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera III questioned Tan's reason for declaring UP Diliman's no tuition collection.

"I don’t know what Chancellor Tan is talking about when he points to government and says government is not clear about its plan," said De Vera, former UP vice president for public affairs

The Duterte administration has allocated P8 billion under the 2017 budget for the implementation of the tuition-free policy. (READ: Medical students to get free tuition in 8 SUCs)

The CHED and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) then issued a joint memorandum that said state universities and colleges (SUCs) will prioritize beneficiaries of government student financial assistance programs in the implementation of the tuition-free policy. 

Based on the memorandum, the tuition-free policy will cover "all Filipino students enrolling in undergraduate course programs in SUCs for the academic year 2017-2018, subject to the prioritization directive of the President and the availability of funds in the Higher Education Support Fund."  

'Temporary suspension' only

Following the announcement, UP Diliman's Computerized Registration System (CRS) on Wednesday, July 12, posted on its website that there will "be no assessment and collection of fees yet" for the upcoming semester. 

Still, some students remained wary, calling on their fellow students to stay sober amid the announcement:


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">So not free tuition but merely suspension of collection. A&#39;ight <a href="https://t.co/V1qVB6tvyP">pic.twitter.com/V1qVB6tvyP</a></p>&mdash; Addison Amiel Ayson (@AdamAyson) <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamAyson/status/884958050422894592">July 12, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


A step forward

STAND UP, one of the political organizations in UP Diliman, said the announcement is a "momentous step forward for the Iskolar ng Bayan and for the struggle for the Filipino people's right to education."

They also pushed for a "no tuition collection" in all units and all state universities.

Some students expressed their hope for other UP units to follow suit.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&quot;No tuition collection in UP Diliman&quot;<br>Students:<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FreeEducationNow?src=hash">#FreeEducationNow</a> <a href="https://t.co/NpQ6RdwlIi">pic.twitter.com/NpQ6RdwlIi</a></p>&mdash; Roentgen (@ronaldgem) <a href="https://twitter.com/ronaldgem/status/884826311545339904">July 11, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Congratulations, Iskolar ng Bayan! UPD Chancellor Mike Tan announced in protest rally today: No tuition collection in UP Diliman.</p>&mdash; Vencer Crisostomo (@venzie) <a href="https://twitter.com/venzie/status/884792560698351616">July 11, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">It&#39;s never wrong to demand our rights!!!!!!!! Happy for UPD pero keep up tayo other UP units!!!!! <a href="https://t.co/Nouktf2QBs">https://t.co/Nouktf2QBs</a></p>&mdash; Micah Deleon (@immicahdeleon) <a href="https://twitter.com/immicahdeleon/status/884735598593847297">July 11, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



STAND UP said the announcement is proof of the "power of militant, collective action" despite roadblocks, such as the the "administration's refusal to heed the call for free education, and the divisive acts of some groups who continue to support 'socialized tuition' and fee hikes."

What's next?

UP Alyansa, another political organization in UP Diliman, said that the fight is far from over.

In its statement, UP Alyansa said that the latest announcement is only a partial fulfilment of the state's mandate to make education accessible.

According to the group, the move "will not render education completely accessible," citing other concerns of students such as "living costs, dormitory fees, and other additional requirements outside the coverage of tuition and other fees."

Others agreed that the fight for free education continues. 


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Here is the response we got from UPD Chancy Michael Tan. Our fight for free education continues, Iskolar ng Bayan! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FreeEdukNow?src=hash">#FreeEdukNow</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SR2017?src=hash">#SR2017</a> <a href="https://t.co/NGZDCavwZY">pic.twitter.com/NGZDCavwZY</a></p>&mdash; Philippine Collegian (@phkule) <a href="https://twitter.com/phkule/status/884744090499207169">July 11, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>




<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">No tuition collection in UP Diliman next sem.Great news!But fight for free education continues - sustain &amp; replicate victory for the youth!</p>&mdash; Galo Glino III (@thirdyglino) <a href="https://twitter.com/thirdyglino/status/884819512968724480">July 11, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


A bill that seeks to provide free tuition and other school fees in SUCs, local universities and colleges, and government-run technical-vocational institutions is still awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's signature– Rappler.com  

Alexa Yadao is a Rappler intern. She is currently a Communication Arts student at UP Baguio 

WATCH: Soldier composes song for conflict-torn Marawi


 MANILA, Philippines – "Kapatid, gumising ka! 'Di ka ba naaawa sa bayan kong nagdurusa?" (Brother, open your eyes! Do you not see the suffering of our nation?)

These are lyrics from Sergeant Ronie Halasan's original composition, "Bangon Marawi" (Rise Marawi), a tribute to the conflict-torn city which was recorded right in the heart of the battle zone.

Through his song, Halasan attempted to paint the grim conditions of the ongoing crisis in Marawi City, based on his experiences fighting on the frontline. He also called on all Filipinos to collectively triumph over this adversity.

As of early Wednesday evening, July 12, the Facebook video showing Halasan performing the song has gotten more than 2,000 reactions and been shared over 3,000 times.

'Maling pakikibaka'

In "Bangon, Marawi," the soldier sings of the need to put an end to "maling pakikibaka" (the wrong way of fighting).

Marlon Magtira, who is from the Joint Task Force Marawi Digital Media Team and one of Halasan's comrades, described "maling pakikibaka" as the terrorists' attempt to occupy Marawi City and create chaos.

Halasan was assigned to combat operations and later on to administrative duty during the siege. He witnessed firsthand the perils of the crisis and its effects on children, the elderly, and all those who have been displaced since the clashes began on May 23.

As of Tuesday, July 11, at least 101,086 families or 471,411 persons have been displaced by the Marawi crisis, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The affected residents come from all 96 barangays of Marawi City and from 20 municipalities of Lanao del Sur.

Pained by the suffering around him, Halasan used the experiences of civilians as his inspiration in composing "Bangon Marawi." He began creating the song two weeks into the siege and finished it a month later.

Magtira said the sincerity and raw emotion are evident in Halasan's song.

"Hindi po professionally ginawa sa studio ang 'Bangon Marawi.' Sa katunayan nangangapa pa nga po no'n sa chords si Halasan eh," Magtira added.

("Bangon Marawi" was not professionally recorded in a studio. In fact, Halasan was just experimenting with the chords.)

Call for unity

As the battle rages in Marawi City, the song hopes to encourage all Filipinos to set aside their differences and help one another build a peaceful nation.

As Magtira said: "Simulan na natin ngayon. Magsama-sama tayo sa pagbangon ngayon." (Let us start today. Together, let us rise above this struggle.)

The crisis in Marawi City entered the 51st day on Wednesday, July 12. Government troops continue to battle members of the Maute Group, which previously pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).

As of last Sunday, July 9, there have been 507 fatalities due to the siege, most of them terrorists. Among the dead are 89 soldiers and policemen as well as 39 civilians. (READ: Marawi death toll tops 500) – Rappler.com 

Gari Acolola is a Rappler intern. She is also studying sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Does the Philippines have enough funds to deal with disasters?


MANILA, Philippines – Are there enough funds for disaster management in 2017?

During the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness, Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda expressed frustration over the budget of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

"The [calamity fund] for 2017 – from the [National Expenditure Program] to the House and out of the [bicameral conference committee] – was cut down from P40 billion to P15 billion," he said last Saturday, July 8.

Under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) or national budget, a total of P15.7 billion has been allocated for the DRRM fund, a P23-billion decrease from the P38.9-billion allocation in 2016.

The law states that funds for disaster management activities should be sourced from the DRRM fund to respond to urgent needs during emergency situations. (READ: Where can you access disaster funds?)

Insufficient budget

Back in March, the NDRRMC said only about P5.8 billion is left of the calamity fund which is not enough to cover the needs of areas recovering from disasters.

This means that two-thirds of the DRRM fund had already been used in the first 3 months of the year.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo earlier told Rappler that the budget for 2017 is insufficient "because there were many disasters in the last half of 2016."

The NDRRMC approved a resolution last March, asking Congress for a P78-billion supplemental budget to cover the needs of areas hit by typhoons in the past two years.

The supplemental budget sought by the council does not include the flooding in Mindanao last January and the recent earthquakes that rocked several parts of the country. (IN PHOTOS: Earthquake causes panic, damage in Batangas resort)

Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, the Executive Director of the NDRRMC, told Rappler on Saturday that the council would seek budget augmentation if needed.

"The NDRRMC will request for additional funds if the circumstance requires," he said. (READ: Wanted: Messiah for disasters)

Limited flexibility

A smaller calamity fund means less flexibility, said budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines.

"Dahil nabawasan 'yung budget, siyempre maliit lang ang flexibility nila. Ang problem diyan, 'pag nagka-disaster, you have to be ready," Isagani Serrano, Social Watch Philippines co-convenor, told Rappler in a phone interview on Wednesday, July 12.

(Because the budget was cut, of course, flexibility is limited. The problem with that is, when a disaster strikes, you have to be ready.)

In the 2017 National Expenditure Program (NEP), the DRRM fund was initially allotted P37.3 billion – with only a P1.6-billion proposed decrease from the 2016 allocation. But after going through the bicameral conference committee, the total allocation was further slashed to just P15.7 billion. (READ: What's in the proposed 2017 national budget?)

Serrano said adjustments must be made for next year's expenditure program to ensure that there is enough money to be used when disasters happen.

The 2018 NEP is set to be submitted to Congress before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24, as the budget call started last January.

"We are now just looking for a bigger NDRRMF for 2018. Although I have not yet seen the proposed NEP for 2018, the DBM already assured us of that," Jalad said in a text message on Tuesday, July 11.

Fund for adaptation

LEYTE EARTHQUAKE. A resident surveys his damaged house in Ormoc City following the magnitude 6.5 earthquake on July 6, 2017. File photo by Gelo Litonjua

Aside from the calamity fund, the People's Survival Fund (PSF) is another source of money for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction programs.

But until now, bulk of the P1-billion allocation has yet to be given to implementing agencies.

"The PSF of P1 billion, hanggang ngayon, katakot-takot na permutation ang nakita dito at ilang beses na [bagyo ang] nadaan, hanggang ngayon wala pa rin," Salceda said on Saturday.

(The PSF of P1 billion, until now, we've seen so many permutations and several typhoons have hit, but the fund still cannot be accessed.)

P1 billion was programmed into the PSF in the national budget starting 2016 – more than 3 years after the fund was created through a law signed by then president Benigno Aquino III in 2012.

In October 2015, the Climate Change Commission announced that the PSF may be accessed by local government units (LGUs) and community organizations.

According to Serrano, technicalities in proposals delay the approval of projects to be funded by the PSF.

"[The] PSF is intended for adaptation but 'yung character ng proposals na pumapasok ay mahina. Ang resolve ngayon ay pabilisin talaga. Naiipon ang pera. Baka mapuntirya na natutulog lang ang pondo," explained Serrano.

(The PSF is intended for adaptation but the proposals submitted do not necessarily reflect that. Our resolve now is to hasten the process. The funds accumulate yearly. Critics might say the PSF is not being used.)

"What we're doing now is to help the LGUs with their comprehensive plans for the PSF," he added.

One of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, the Philippines has adopted policies to manage calamities since the 1970s.

Philippine laws on disaster management and climate change have even been praised as among the "world's best" by the United Nations.

But without enough funding, how will the government respond effectively to disasters? – Rappler.com