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The online community is abuzz after a Miss Earth Philippines contestant shared her insights in the Q & A portion of the beauty pageant.
 
During the coronation night last June 11, candidates were each given 30 seconds to elaborate on trending topics they had picked from a basket.
 
Miss Zamboanga, Bellatrix Tran, drew #ElNiñoLaNiña, two weather-related events that are serious global threats.
 
This was Tan’s answer: “El Niño is what we are facing right now. If we do simple things like planting trees, then we will not experience drought. So if we start now, we will achieve La Niña.” Unfortunately, her last line elicited laughter from the audience and judges.
 
https://twitter.com/krizzy_kalerqui/status/741797696269225985?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
 
What should have been her answer:
 Everyone should read up on El Niño, a climatic condition wherein an unusual increase in sea surface temperature or warming of the ocean is observed. It mostly affects the agricultural sector due to its effects of reduced rainfall and warmer weather.
 
In the Philippines, PAGASA confirmed the start of the El Niño phenomenon last May 2015. To date, El Niño is at its decaying stage but has left damages worth P7 billion based on the records of the Department of Agriculture from January to May 2016.
 
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines La Niña as a phenomenon characterized by unusually low sea surface temperatures or the cooling of the ocean in the Equatorial Pacific. Its effects may include moderate to strong monsoon activity, moderate to strong tropical cyclones, above-normal rains or above -normal temperatures. A La Niña episode does not always follow an El Niño, but it may happen especially if the latter is a strong one.
 
As of posting, there is no confirmed occurrence of La Niña, but there is a 50% chance that it will develop in the coming months, according to PAGASA.
  
 
Miss Philippines Earth aims to showcase not just nature’s beauty, but to also raise awareness on social concerns and environmental issues, including weather phenomena.
 
So remember that whether you’re planning to join a beauty contest or not, remember that it pays to be equipped with knowledge on social issues, especially those that are directly affecting our country.

While El Niño is drawing closer to its end, it may still have an effect in several parts of the country this month. Dry condition may affect the province of Marinduque ,while dry spells are expected in Benguet, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Aurora, Batangas, Laguna, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Southern Leyte and Davao Oriental.

Meanwhile, droughts continue to threaten Abra, Ifugao, Kalinga Apayao, Mountain Province, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan and Masbate.

In Visayas, droughts are likely to be experienced in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor and Biliran. Affected areas in Mindanao include Zamboanga Sibugay, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Surigao del Norte, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

El Niño is now on its final stage, and is more likely to return to neutral condition by the end of July. While this may bring good news to our farmers highly affected by extreme drought, meteorological agencies warn the public about the impending occurrence of the La Niña.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines La Niña as a phenomenon characterized by the unusually low sea surface temperatures or cooling of the ocean in the Equatorial Pacific. NOAA added that a La Niña episode does not always follow an El Niño, but it may happen especially if the latter is a strong one.

The chief of PAGASA-Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section (CLIMPS), Mr. Anthony Lucero, said La Niña episode may occur on October to December 2016. As of now, there is a 50% chance that it will develop in the coming months.

Photo by: Allan Benitez
Photo by: Allan Benitez

According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Buddy Javier, the La Niña’s effects in the Philippines may include the following:

1. Moderate to strong monsoon activity
The southwest monsoon or habagat is expected to affect the country during the rainy season, which usually sets in by the end of May to early June. If La Niña occurs, the activity of habagat may intensify, bringing more rains in the country.

2. Moderate to strong tropical cyclone activity
La Niña may also influence the intensity and impacts of tropical cyclones or bagyo that will enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) in the second half of 2016.

3. Above-normal rainfall / wetter weather condition
The opposite of El Niño, La Niña means more rains. More rains may trigger more flooding and landslides. After months of extremely dry days, we must now prepare for extremely wet days.

4. Near to below-normal air temperatures
By the time La Niña fully develops, the tag-init season may have already ended. Temperatures may return to normal or may be below average.

PAGASA will continuously monitor the weather while advisories will be immediately issued if needed. The public is advised to monitor updates.
Photo by: Melvin Magyaya
Photo by: Melvin Magyaya

By Amor Larrosa and Desserie Dionio, Panahon TV Reporters

Gunshots echoed as protesters hurled stones against the police. Blasts of water cannons were directed toward rallyists, who ran for their lives amidst deafening screams. According to reports, such was the scene that unfolded in Kidapawan in Cotabato that took the media by storm on the first day of April – an incident that would later be tagged by others as “Bigas, Hindi Bala.”

On March 29, 500 El Niño-stricken farmers and agricultural workers staged a rally in front of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Kidapawan City to ask the government for rice rations and aid after the El Niño had dried up their crops, leaving them penniless, in debt and hungry.

The local government agreed to talk to the farmers, but on March 30, their numbers rose to 6,000, allowing them to occupy the highway. A couple of days later, the event led to a violent dispersal, killing two farmers and one civilian, with more than a hundred protesters and members of the police wounded, and 80 farmers missing.

TWO SIDES OF THE COIN
Last April 7, the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights held a hearing in Davao City as some of farmers who were still recovering from injuries could not travel to Manila.

During the session, a farmer named Arlyn Oti Aman recalled how she, along with colleagues, were treated violently. “We went here to ask for food, but they looked upon us as like dogs, like animals.”

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) claimed that they have proof that the demonstrators initiated the violence. North Cotabato Chief Police Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum said that maximum tolerance was implemented during the outbreak of violence. He also showed an aerial video of the incident showing that cops were not raising their batons.

There are always two sides to every story, but what’s certain is that one of the factors that sparked the Kidapawan violence is the El Niño. This phenomenon aggravated the Dry Season in Mindanao, threatening food security.

WHAT IS EL NIÑO?
El Niño is characterized by the unusual warming of the ocean or the unusual rise in sea surface temperature (SST). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the term El Niño was originally recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America as the appearance of uncommon warm water in the Pacific Ocean.

“El Niño” is also a Spanish term meaning “Little Boy” or “Christ child” because this phenomenon usually arrives around Christmas.

WARNING
As early as 2014, PAGASA warned the public about the possible threat of El Niño, which was expected to bring below-normal rainfall patterns and higher air temperatures. Though the average number of tropical cyclones could still be normal, PAGASA stated that the El Niño could affect the cyclones’ movement and intensity, causing them to be stronger and more erratic.

EL NIÑO SETS IN
On March 11, 2015, PAGASA confirmed the ongoing El Niño in a press statement.

In the same month, the Dry Spell started to affect farmlands and water sources in Kidapawan City. The veterinary office in the city also reported deaths of hogs and cows because of the severe heat. The city office also received reports that some farm animals had weakened, possibly due to heat stroke.

El Niño Documentation

After enduring the effects of El Niño for months, North Cotabato was placed under a state of calamity on January 2016. Thousands of hectares of farmlands and millions of crops like rice, corn, cacao, and other high-value crops were affected.

MINDANAO’S WEATHER
Provinces that are vulnerable to the effects of El Niño are mostly in Mindanao, mainly because of its location. According to PAGASA-Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section (CLIMPS) Chief Mr. Anthony Lucero, areas which are at the nearest distance from the equator normally experience the highest temperatures and least precipitation.

“Kapag kasi may El Niño, nagkakaroon ng reversal of winds—5 degrees north and 5 degrees south of equator. Humihina ‘yung effect ng Easterlies pagdating sa part na ‘yun. So walang moisture, wala ring ulan,” Lucero said.

This April, North Cotabato remains to be on the list of areas that are more likely to experience drought. Drought is defined by three consecutive months of way-below normal rainfall condition, wherein the average rainfall is reduced by 60%.

APRIL RAINFALL FORECAST 2016

WERE WE PREPARED FOR EL NIÑO?
In the Senate Committee hearing, Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño Mendoza stressed that the provincial government took El Niño-mitigating measures after being warned by PAGASA.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala belied reports that farmers in Mindanao have become hungry because of the government’s failure to prepare for El Niño. According to Alcala, when PAGASA declared a mild El Niño, the DA immediately provided P2.666 billion worth of mitigation assistance as early as 2015. He also said that P979.9 million worth of assistance was released from January to March 2016, including the provision of water pumps.

According to Alcala, DA’s projection of palay harvest loss due to El Niño for 2016 to date is 970,000 metric tons; “But the actual loss was 203,000 metric tons, meaning that the government has implemented the necessary interventions.”

From April to July this year, DA targets to distribute a total of 89,260 bags of rice varieties and seeds; 80,000 kilograms of soil ameliorant/zinc sulphate; and 5,000 bags of organic fertilizer for distribution to affected farmers.


As early as January, Pasig City Representative Roman Romulo called for the administration to disclose how it intended to spend the multimillion-peso budget for El Niño mitigation.

Likewise, in his statement during the hearing, Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano condemned the administration for its failure to immediately release funds to mitigate the effects of El Niño.

“Enough of excuses and lies: we actually have P45 billion worth of funds in 2016 that may be used for the projects that will curb the impact of this crisis. If the Palace wanted to resolve this, they can… why are there so many farmers who are still starving and facing poverty?” said Cayetano.

EL NIÑO AND CLIMATE CHANGE
In an interview with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Atty. Gia Ibay said climate change does not cause El Niño, but the frequency of El Niño occurrence may be linked to it.

Lucero affirms this, saying it is a common misconception that El Niño is caused by climate change. He added that though El Niño is a natural occurrence, climate change may worsen its effects.

“Sa nakikita natin in the recent years, dumadami at dumadalas ang pagkakaroon ng disasters dahil sa climate change – kasama dun ‘yung drought. Ang climate change, connected sa pagtaas ng temperatura ng mundo. So kapag nagkaroon ng El Niño, lumalala ang effect. Mas mainit at lalong nagkukulang sa ulan,” Lucero explained.

According to Lucero, the current El Niño is still categorized as “strong” but is expected to weaken in the next few months. Probably by the end of July, our country may experience a “neutral” climatic condition.

AWARENESS + PREPAREDNESS
To date, the PNP has started its own inquiry on the Kidapawan dispersal, but there are calls for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel probe to ensure an impartial and independent investigation.

Meanwhile, in Senator Loren Legarda’s press release, she said that this incident would not have happened if necessary interventions addressed the impact of El Niño on farmers and communities.

“…the government can no longer deny the link between climate change and development. What we saw is just one of the human faces of climate change and our farmers, who did not cause this phenomenon, is among the direct victims of its impacts,” Legarda stated.

With the increasing frequency of El Niño and extreme weather events, it is evident that we are already facing a serious challenge. We have all been warned about the development of an El Niño phenomenon, but awareness is not enough without preparedness. It is the state’s responsibility to see to it that measures are effectively carried out from planning to implementation, making sure that the very backbone of the country’s food security—the farmers—benefit from them.

Related articles:
Panahon TV Blog: Decrypting the Dry Spell
Panahon TV Blog: El Niño getting stronger, threatens PH until 2016

REFERENCES:

http://davaotoday.com/main/human-rights/we-were-treated-like-animals-woman-tells-senate-hearing-on-kidapawan-carnage/

http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1541460006387/senate-hearing-on-violent-kidapawan-protest-held-in-davao

http://www.da.gov.ph/index.php/media-resources/news-release/2016-news-release/7456-agri-chief-belies-media-reports-that-mindanao-farmers-going-hungry-due-to-el-nino

http://www.gov.ph/2016/04/05/govt-intensifies-efforts-combat-el-nino/

https://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2016/0407_escudero2.asp
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
PAGASA-DOST
Greenpeace Philippines
www.mindanews.com
http://www.philstar.com/nation/2016/01/21/1544611/north-cotabato-under-state-calamity-due-el-nino
http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2016/0405_legarda1.asp

PAGASA’s climate outlook shows that most parts of the Philippines will probably experience a Meteorological Drought, which, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information, occurs when dry weather patterns dominate an area. Meanwhile, Agricultural Droughts happen when crops are affected.

Because of the ongoing El Niño, the forecast rainfall for February is below-normal or between 41 to 80 percent. Based on the map below, a large part of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will experience less rainfall. These include the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), except for Apayao where near-normal rainfall is expected.

In Region I, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union will receive above-normal rainfall. However, Pangasinan will experience a different scenario with only a 22.9 percent amount precipitation in February, which means drought is more probable in this area.

The good news: most provinces in Region II, Central Luzon, National Capital Region, Region IV-A, MIMAROPA and Bicol Region will also receive below to above-normal rainfall, thanks to the Amihan or the Northeast Monsoon and occasional Tail End of a Cold Front, bringing light to moderate rains.

In Region VI, Negros Island Region, Region VII, Region VIII, Davao Region, SOCCSKSARGEN, CARAGA and ARMM, below-normal rainfall is expected, quantified between 41 to 80 percent. The Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao are most likely to experience the effect of El Niño this month because of way-below normal rainfall or below 40 percent amount of rains. Most of these areas consist of agricultural farms, thus making it more prone to Agricultural Drought.

According to PAGASA, A Dry Spell is characterized by three consecutive months of below- normal rainfall conditions, while Droughts are defined as having three consecutive months of way below-normal rainfall conditions. In the latest climate outlook of the weather bureau, 26 provinces (31% percent of the country) are likely to experience droughts.

May last until February 2016
May last until February 2016

Lanao Del Norte in Region X reported that there are 1,216 hectares of corn, 976 hectares of high-value crops and 694 hectares of rice affected by the Dry Condition. Meanwhile, 22 municipalities of Bukidnon are also suffering from the effect of El Niño, with 31,750 hectares of corn, 1,705 hectares of cassava and 4.0,317 hectares of rice affected by the Dry Season. Maguindanao in ARMM is now placed under a State of Calamity, where more than 20,000 farmers and 17,000 hectares of rice and corn are affected.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is focusing on providing mitigation programs especially to areas severely affected by the El Niño. Cloud seeding, the process of scattering silver iodide aerosols or dry ice into clouds containing supercooled water to induce rain, is done to abate water scarcity.

The DA is also awaiting the release of a P900 million budget to fast-track the agency’s interventions.

With the unfavorable effects of El Niño, farmers are assured that they can rely on DA. The agency is accepting concerns and inquiries through its DA El Niño Hotline and PhilRice Text Center.

el nino hotline

 
image
 
It crosses borders on social classes, age and gender. When it comes to the dengue fever, no one is safe.
 
It’s a viral disease that can be spread through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, whose breeding habitat thrives in wet climates like what we we have in our country. This is because these mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water and flooded areas.
 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there is an estimated 390 million dengue infections a year– of which 96 million are clinically manifested. Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 92,807 dengue cases as of September last year– 23.5% higher than the recorded cases in 2014.

 
Climate Change and Dengue
 
Due to the strong El Niño the Philippines is continuously experiencing, DOH expects to have a higher number of dengue cases this year. This is because El Niño can cause stronger typhoons that can lead to flooding, which can contribute to dengue production. Increased stagnant water leads to an increase of dengue-carrying larva. And because more people are storing water to survive the water shortage, this may also be a factor in the spreading of the virus, according to the DOH.
 
The extreme temperature and drought in some areas are also favorable conditions for the virus. When the weather is cold, mosquitoes hibernate, which may lead to their death. During dry conditions, their eggs can survive for months.

 
Other factors that cause dengue
According to DOH spokesman Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, the increase in globalization, urbanization and jet travel make human interaction more frequent. Where there are crowded areas, the practice of storing water may be common because of the stiff competition for water sources because of the El Ñino.
 
In a highly urbanized area, such as Metro Manila, wet markets abound with questionable hygienic practices. It is because of this that the DOH is strongly urging the people to keep their surroundings clean, and to always cover stored water.
 
Did you know?
 
Dengue can be found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, and mostly in urban and semi-urban areas. These are cities and towns where human structures like houses, commercial buildings, bridges, railways, and bridges can be found. The higher the population, the faster the rate the dengue virus can spread.
 
image
 

 
image
 

Dengue Vaccine
 
Department of Health Secretary Janette Garin announced last December that the first vaccine against dengue will be available in the country this month. This medicine was tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and was manufactured by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur. The vaccine is suitable for all four types of dengue patients, ranging from 9 to 45 years old.
 
But you can still prevent dengue through these simple routines:
 
· Regularly clean your area.
· Use mosquito nets over your bed.
· Wear long sleeves.
· Use mosquito repellant.
· At the onset of any symptom above, immediately consult a doctor.
· Support local fogging in your area.

Though according to the International Research Institute (IRI), the strong El Nino could be felt this month, reaching its peak in February 2016, the Northeast Monsoon or the Amihan still manages to bring cold weather during dawn and/or evening. Today, it is forecast to affect Northern Luzon, bringing light rains over Batanes, Calayan and the Babuyan Group of Islands. Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon are expected to experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains. Visayas and Mindanao will experience generally fair weather conditions.
 
5AM- DEC4
 
Gale warning is back, and was raised in the northern and western seaboards of Northern Luzon. Because of the alert of big waves due to the rough to very rough sea conditions, fisherfolk and those with small seacraft are not allowed from venturing into the said seaboards.
 
5am- 4
 
Meanwhile, according to PAGASA, we are still not expecting any weather disturbance both inside and outside our boundary within the next three (3) days. However, it is advisable to continuously monitor updates about the weather.

 
As the Northeast Monsoon or Amihan prevails in Northern Luzon, bringing moderately cold weather and light rains over Metro Manila and the regions of Cagayan valley, Ilocos and CORDILLERA. Meanwhile the Tail-end of a Cold Front will bring light to moderate rains over Central Luzon and the provinces of Quezon. As for the rest of our country, fair weather condition is expected.
 
5am-30
 

Due to the strong winds associated with the Amihan, gale warning is still raised in the seaboards of Northern Luzon. Fisherfolk and those with small seacraft are still not allowed to venture into the said seaboards due to rough to very rough sea conditions.
 
5am-gale warning
 

Meanwhile, according to PAGASA dry condition, dry spell and drought are still expected in the areas in Luzon, Visayas and in Mindanao. This coming December, El Nino might have a more intense effect on our country. The whole nation is encouraged to conserve water. Here are some tips:
 
water conservation
 

title
 
Though weather these BER months may not be as cold as that in previous months because of the El Niño ( http://www.panahon.tv/blog/2015/10/el-nino-getting-stronger-threatens-ph-until-2016/ ), we cannot deny that we’ve been waking up to cooler, crisper air these past few weeks. To make sure you’re prepared for the weather changes, keep these five things in your bag.
 

1 jacket
 
A no-brainer essential when it’s cold, a jacket can also be a handy way to protect you from the sudden rains. Opt for hoodies that can keep your head dry and warm during cold, rainy days.
 

1 scarf
 
If wearing jackets is not your thing, shawls and scarves are fashionable ways to keep warm. There are several ways to wear them too—as a shrug, as a wrap, as a neck warmer. With several designs and colors to choose from, these accessories don’t only make you look good; you can also use them to wipe off sweat, as a pouch, or as a blanket for an impromptu picnic! When it’s sunny, use it to cover your head as a stylish sunscreen.
 

1 lotion
 
When cold weather comes, expect dry skin. That’s because the air holds less moisture at this time. To prevent skin from drying out, which makes it more susceptible to skin breakage, always bring a small bottle of lotion, which you can apply several times during the day.
 
1 lip balm

 
During this season, our lips are also at the mercy of cold weather. Avoid chapped, cracked lips by regularly using lip balm. Remember that lip balm is not just a girl thing; there are plenty of untinted lip balms guys can use. Moisturize your lips because extreme dryness can lead to sores, which can be pretty painful.
 

1 water
 
During cold weather, our bodies sometimes lose their sense of thirst. Be conscious of your water intake, and always bring a bottle of water with you at all times. This helps keep you hydrated and energized even when it’s cold.

The El Niño phenomenon has become one of the most pressing global concerns today. Just recently, PAGASA has issued an update and climate outlook to prepare the public for the impending effects of El Niño, which is now being classified as a “strong” one. El Niño is a climatic condition wherein an unusual increase in sea surface temperature (SST) or warming of the ocean is observed.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says a mature and strong El Niño is now in progress in the tropical Pacific, and will more likely to strengthen before the end of the present year.

WMO added that the 2015-2016 El Niño event will potentially be among the four strongest since 1950. These include the El Niño phenomena experienced during 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98.

Meanwhile, according to the International Research Institute (IRI), the chance of El Niño lasting throughout the March-April-May 2016 season is greater than 95%. It also has a near 78% chance of continuing throughout the April-May-June 2016 season.
Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 6.56.58 AM

PAGASA says that from October this year until March of 2016, the weather systems that may affect the country are the Northeast Monsoon, Tail end of a cold front, Easterly Wave, Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), Low Pressure Areas (LPAs), Ridge of High Pressure Area and Tropical Cyclones.

When it comes to rainfall, the forecast of the weather bureau shows significant reduction in the coming months. This October, some areas of Mindanao are expected to receive the highest amount, while most parts of the archipelago may possibly have less rainfall.

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 6.57.25 AM

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 6.57.48 AM

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 6.58.04 AM

20% of our country will experience dry conditions, dry spells and droughts. A dry condition is defined as two consecutive months of below-normal rainfall condition. A dry spell, on the other hand, happens when below-the-normal rainfall is experienced in three consecutive months, while a drought is defined as three consecutive months of way-below normal rainfall.

Currently, 23 provinces are under dry conditions, 10 under dry spells, and 6 are threatened by droughts.
Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 7.04.08 AM

According to PAGASA, four to eight tropical cylones may develop or enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) until June 2016. Two to five tropical cyclones are expected to enter the PAR until the end of December 2015.


The public is reminded to keep monitoring updates, and to practice water conservation for preparation against the impacts of the prevailing El Niño.

Sources:
WMO
IRI
PAGASA-DOST