Let’s Be Prepared… NOW!!!


The Philippine government’s plan for preemptive evacuations on storm signals should be taken seriously. The proposed upgrading of PAGASA’s weather forecasting equipments should be implemented immediately. NDCC needs to improve on its capabilities and resources when handling sudden large scale calamities. The Philippines has so much to do to better prepare for and to better manage the aftermaths of storms as damaging as Ondoy (Ketsana), which caused more than 300 lives, millions of people displaced and an early estimate of more than US$100M in damages.
 
More than ever, NDCC and its regional operations need immediate improvement in terms of preparedness, planning, assessment, execution and appropriation. The government was overwhelmed when Ondoy wreaked havoc on virtually the entire South Luzon — including a deluge on 80% of the nation’s capital. Being overwhelmed is not expected from and is never an option for the government when hundreds of lives are in danger. Unfortunately, as the government itself admits, its capacity was tested to the limit… though, in my opinion, and if I may add, a little, too, soon.
 
The priority is always to save lives — before, during and after the storm. A preemptive action plan in preparation for a possible calamity costs less than actually losing so many lives. I saw a video from CNN showing what we can learn from Cuba which was violently struck by consecutive hurricanes far more damaging last year afterwhich they reported to’ve lost only 7 lives. Cuba’s effort to evacuate the people, even as far as going house to house to pick them up, saved thousands. Their government’s information campaign to prepare the people with detailed steps on what to do before, during and after the hurricane were aired on the radio for days before and towards the dates of the landfalls. The evacuation and relocation centers were also guaranteed by the government of food, water and medical supplies. The Cuban government also provided financial support and assistance so that the people who lost their properties could rebuild their homes and recover sooner. Cuba has thousands of lives to prove that it can be done and that it can be successfully achieved with exemplary and worthwhile results.
 
Some lessons are learned the hard way, yes, but this one is perhaps one of the most heartbreaking for the nation. Year after year, the Philippines get slammed with storms one after another. We thought we’re ready already. We didn’t see this one coming. We’ve seen the effects now and can clearly identify the shortcomings.
 
I call for the people to be prepared, yes, but we must acknowledge that the people can only do so much by and for themselves. I expect far more from the Philippine government after this. Please act now and do it fast. We can never afford to lose more than what we already lost. Be ready. Be prepared. Learn and never let it happen again.
 
Appreciate your help for my family to recover. I am accepting donations to my PayPal account. Thank you!

On Ondoy’s Wrath


Ondoy left behind pain and sufferings for the many Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad. Manila, the Philippines’ capital, and its surrounding provinces were deluged with heavier than normal rains that caused devastating flash floods as rivers and dams overflowed into cities, industrial regions and residential areas. The unprecedented damage and the growing list of lost lives overwhelm the nation. The destruction as it is now would take months or even years to recover from. As Ondoy leaves the country, many are disheartened with news of more storms that are expected to come to the Philippines in the next few weeks. Sad
 
The Philippines get hit by storms many times every year.  In many ways, I believe the Filipino people have learned to cope with that fact and should be prepared most of the time. We cannot underestimate the knowledge and experience of Filipinos in dealing with and in surviving tormental storms. However, Ondoy brought an extraordinary amount of rain to the country with over 13 inches poured in just 12 hours. No one could possibly be ready for that… and I’m sure, not even the richest of nations.
 
The Philippine’s National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) is not ready for devastations as big as this. Not that NDCC never prepared for anything. This is undeniably overwhelming! Ondoy destroyed a number of regions in South Luzon over the weekend. There is not enough boats and choppers to cover as much air and ground. There is not enough trained people to disseminate for rescue operations. There is not enough resources immediately and readily available for everyone. These are the reasons why, two gruelling days after, there are still people trapped in their flooded houses or are still on the roofs of their submerged homes waiting to be rescued.
 
Meanwhile, Filipinos working outside the Philippines are shocked! They are worried about their loved ones. For some of them, up to this writing, they still haven’t heard from their families and friends who are known to be victims of flash floods as well. It’s a painful ordeal. It’s been two days now! I could hardly imagine the suffering they are going through. Please pray for them. God, please help them!
 
Filipinos unite at times like these — that, I know for sure. Together, I know we will get through this. Together, I know we will recover.
 
Appreciate your help for my family to recover. I am accepting donations to my PayPal account. Thank you!

Ondoy


Our house was hit by one of the many flashfloods caused by tropical storm Ondoy (Ketsana) last September 26, 2009 PST. My family (Flor, Kyle, Bryan, baby JP) and our yaya are safe in our neighbor’s house who was so kind to open her house’s upper floors for her troubled neighbors (thank you , Mercy).
 
The flood quickly developed in SouthFairway Homes Landayan San Pedro, Laguna when Ondoy poured a month’s worth of rain in just 6 hours. My wife informed me by phone of a shallow flooding in our area at around 8pm E/DST. A couple of hours later, she called me to report between catches of breaths what was happening and what they were doing. The flood was getting deeper… fast!
 
We only have one floor in our house so they have to raise the furnitures and appliances on to any available tables and chairs that could support them. The men in our neighborhood, who rounded the streets to check on those who may be in need, were just in time to arrive at our house. They worked together to assist in lifting the refrigerator, which Flor and yaya couldn’t possibly do by themselves. The fact that our neighbors were checking at our house at the right moment when my wife needed help most is a miracle worth mentioning. The initiative of these kind men is highly appreciated — my sincerest gratitude for all your help.
 
Midnight E/DST, I couldn’t contact my family anymore because the landline phone and my wife’s cellphone went dead. All I could do was to wait for Flor to call me. It was frustrating. I was so worried. I waited for an hour or so before Flor was able to call. That was when I learned that they already moved to our neighbor’s 2nd floor. The water was already above the knee in our house. At that time, the information I knew from the news was that the heavy rain might continue to fall heavily for another 6 – 8 hours. I had to request for her to save as much as we could possible (important documents, laptop/computer peripherals, clothes, TV, etc.) in case the flood continued to rise. After we talked, I knew that she immediately went on her way back to our already knee deep flooded house. I wished I was there instead to do it. It was heartbreaking to be so far away.
 
I waited to hear from Flor for a gruelling 3 hours or so. I was doubly worried. I talked to friends online for comfort. I checked for news updates every minute. It was still raining hard. Manila, the whole metro and the surrounding provinces were devastated! I even reached a point when I asked some of my friends online to try and contact my family for me. I asked them to contact my mother-in-law to get news — why didn’t I get my neighbor’s number?!!! After a few tries in the midst of more scary news about Ondoy’s wrath, I was pleased to know my family was OK (thank you, Jolai).
 
I waited until past 5am E/DST or so to hear my wife’s voice. That was all I needed before I could go to sleep…
 
My wife is very sad about our house getting flooded, but she kept her presence of mind. She is brave and strong and reliable. The flood in our area stopped at waist deep and is still so up to this writing. It is not raining anymore but we’ll have to wait until the flood clears to start picking up for recovery.
 
Please pray for us and for all affected by Ondoy.
 
Update (as of 9/27/2009 PST morning):
My family is now safe with my mother-in-law.
 
Update (as of 9/27/2009 PST evening):
As Ondoy leaves the country, the southwest monsoon is still being enhanced causing rains to keep pouring in Southern Luzon. The flood water in our area continued to rise from waist-deep to chest-deep. There are still people in our subdivision where there’s no food and drinking water. Please call to rescue the people there or to help deliver relief goods. Sad
 
Appreciate your help for my family to recover. I am accepting donations to my PayPal account. Thank you!

On Love and Hate…


Hatred ever kills, love never dies. Such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.
— Mohandas K. Gandhi
 
 
Indifference is the strongest force in the universe. It makes everything it touches meaningless. Love and hate don’t stand a chance against it.
— The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
— Elie Wiesel

Fall Is Coming


Summer is almost over. Actually, for some it already is. Although, officially, autumn should start on September 22, 2009 here in the USA, it is starting to feel cold now in New Jersey with mornings opening up in the 50s. The sun shines, the sky is clear and blue, but the entire state feels airconditioned. "Bright beauty" as the weather man on TV calls it.
 
While summer is a whole lot of fun, fall is a feast to the eyes. This is perhaps the best season to go out and enjoy nature at its best. Perhaps that’s the reason fall fashion is usually into earth colors. Come autumn, the colors of the trees change from green to shades of yellow, orange and red like as if the trees are on fire — I imagine them giving the last effort for the year to show their warmth before they shed everything for winter.
 
A friend here told me that she knew I was coming because the temperature is already dropping. Well, considering I often come here during the cold seasons and leaves before summer, I suppose she’s got a pretty good sense. Come to think of it, I’ve already experienced completing fall, winter and spring here but not the summer season. Hope that would change next year. 🙂