Surrounded by bodies of water, the Philippines sits astride the typhoon belt. Each year, an average of 19 to 20 tropical cyclones or bagyo enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), with 8 to 9 of these crossing the landmass.
In 2014, 19 tropical cyclones were recorded to have entered PAR. Two of them were experienced before the year ended, making their respective landfalls in the Visayas and Mindanao areas.
Since its development from a low pressure area on the last day of November, major weather agencies across the globe closely monitored the potentially dangerous typhoon, later given the international name Hagupit.
Filipinos were alerted against the threat of the approaching cyclone as early as December 2, even if Hagupit was still too far to affect the country.
Entering PAR on December 4, the cyclone was locally named Ruby. Two possible scenarios were presented: for it to 1) make landfall and 2) recurve. Despite hoping for the latter, Ruby crossed the archipelago, hitting the land five times before exiting PAR by the evening of December 10.
During its course on land, Ruby left 18 dead and 916 injured. Over 5 billion pesos in damages to agriculture and infrastructure were also reported.
With the catastrophe endured by Filipinos in November 2013 caused by bagyong Yolanda, the Philippines may have learned its lesson. A lot of it, it seems, were applied during the preparations for Ruby.
No less than President Benigno Aquino III ensured that each agency’s preparations were already in place before Ruby’s arrival. This included quizzing his cabinet secretaries on their efforts in preparation for Ruby, to avoid a repeat of the Yolanda situation. A meeting in Camp Aguinaldo was held to mitigate the impact of Ruby in the following days.
Agencies also layman-ized the terms and phrases used in order to make sure everyone understood and acted accordingly. Continuous dissemination of weather bulletins, the initiation of pre-emptive evacuation, and other precautionary measures were undertaken as early as December 2 when the typhoon was still outside the PAR.
Right after Christmas up until New Year’s, PAGASA weather forecasters dutifully monitored the last tropical cyclone of the year— Seniang.
Dumping heavy rains that caused widespread flooding and landslides, among others, Seniang made landfall four times before leaving the PAR on the 2nd of January.
Aside from the 65 deaths, 41 injuries and 7 missing persons, Seniang also caused damages of more than 758 million pesos as of press time.
With the death toll significantly higher compared to Ruby, criticisms were thrown at the government for “falling short in its preparations” for the onslaught of bagyong Seniang. However, Malacañang refuted these claims saying that the government’s preparations and response were comprehensive. Citing the latest report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma stated that many of the casualties came from isolated cases of landslide and flashflood incidents, in areas that were not “designated as danger zones.”
A weather disturbance often takes a few days before it develops into something massive. State meteorologists monitor this through weather satellites, enabling them to alert the public and give them ample time to prepare before a bagyo strikes.
Over the years, the Filipinos have endured the countless devastating effects of cyclones with rising death tolls and damages headlining the news. Though we can’t stop a cyclone from forming, we can minimize its disastrous impact. By focusing on disaster mitigation and preparedness, we help curb the overwhelming consequences of a calamity.
Arm yourself with some weather wisdom.
What is a thunderstorm? A low pressure area? The most dangerous part of a bagyo? (The eye wall, fyi.) Knowing these relevant weather terms help us understand forecasts better, which help us prepare for the coming weather disturbances.
Monitor weather updates.
Nowadays, information comes easily through various platforms—the television, radio, and the Internet. With real-time updates and lead-time forecasts, disaster preparedness is within our reach.
Have an emergency kit.
We can’t stress this enough. Emergency kits save lives. Prepare emergency kits ahead of time and store them in accessible areas so you can easily find them when the need arises.
Make emergency plans with your family.
When disaster strikes, family members may get separated. Make sure the whole family is prepared and informed on crucial information, such as emergency exits, meet-up points, and ways to contact each other. In line with this, it’s also important to know the emergency hotlines in your area.
Identify the threats on your property.
Is your area prone to flooding? Can a storm surge reach your house? Is your area mountainous and prone to landslides? If you are living in a hazard-prone area, evacuate as early as possible. Otherwise, stay inside the house and keep calm.
Store enough food and water.
The movements of tropical cyclones are not definite. Some move speedily; others start fast then slow down later on. Business operations may take time to resume after a disaster so better make sure your supplies will last for a few days.
Heed the advice of local authorities.
If you’re asked to evacuate, do so and be sure to follow instructions. Before leaving, turn off all utilities and secure your home. After the disaster has passed, return home only when officials have deemed it safe.
Are you ready for future disasters? Be informed, prepared, and safe! See below the names that will be used for tropical cyclones that will enter the PAR this 2015
The New Year signals a new chapter in our lives—the chance to be better, kinder, and healthier versions of ourselves. But this year, we at PanahonTV suggest digging a little deeper when it comes to making resolutions. Aside from personal improvement, let’s also aim to make this world a nicer place to live in—by forming habits that address issues such as Climate Change, Disaster Preparedness, and Energy Conservation, among others.
1. Use reusable bottles for water. Plastic bottles, when not properly disposed, can cause multiple problems for the environment, such as clogging drainages. According to the EcoWaste Coalition, Metro Manila’s daily waste weighs in at an alarming 8,601 tons per day and is estimated to rise to 9,060 tons per day in 2015.
2. Bring a foldable canvas bag wherever you go. Instead of using plastic, you can put your purchases in it—and even sit on it in instances (an impromptu picnic, perhaps?) when you don’t want to dirty your clothes.
3. Have everyday-carry items that come in handy during emergencies.
4. Maximize sunlight to save on electricity. Read in natural light and use solar-powered gadgets.
5. Plant indigenous trees, which, experts say are more likely to be typhoon-resilient.
6. Reduce your carbon footprint by walking to nearby locations. This way, you don’t only help reduce carbon emission; you’re also on your way to preventing cardiovascular diseases. For more tips on going green, follow these simple tips.
7. Instead of driving, try biking like these people who do it for a living.
8. Carpool. Save the environment while making new friends!
9. Travel safe—whether you’re using public transport or your own vehicle. For destination ideas, we suggest taking a break in our star-studded beaches.
10. Finish your food. Pope Francis dishes out this wise advice, stating, “Throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the poor, the hungry!” Remember that millions are suffering from hunger worldwide.
12. Make your home resilient against typhoons, including the dreaded Storm Signal number 4!
13. Be fit. Now that the holidays are over, plan healthier meals that boost your immune system.
14. Sort your garbage. Better yet, make your own compost pit in your backyard.
15. Be a positive influence on others. Share your resolutions on your social networking page and spread the good vibes!
Christmas is a season of love and happiness— the time of year filled with joyful melodies, countless parties and family reunions.
However, this is also the season of fire hazards, which come in the form of lavish displays that make use of substandard Christmas lights.
Last year, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) documented a total of 1,079 fire incidents during the “ber” months in National Capital Region alone and 4,029 fire cases in the whole country. Based on the data, most of the fire incidents happened during the month of December.
That’s why this Yuletide Season, it’s important to prioritize your family’s safety with these tips:
Look for the ICC mark. When buying decorations such as Christmas lights and lanterns, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) suggests buying only those with ICC marks, which are printed on stickers. The ICC or the Import Commodity Clearance is obtained through the Product Certification Scheme of the Bureau of Product Standard (BPS) under the governance of DTI. ICC marks validate that the products have met the requirements of the Philippine National Standard (PNS) specified by the BPS.
ICC marks must bear the unique serial number of the product shipment and the name of its manufacturer or importer. This way, you can easily trace the product’s source.
For consumer complaints and queries, call DTI Direct at 7513330 or 0917-8343330.
Inspect your Christmas lights thoroughly before use. Check the cord and plug for any damage. If you plan to use your old Christmas lights, watch out for exposed live wires, melting or opening in the lamp holders, and loosely screwed light bulbs.
Read the instructions carefully. Make sure you follow voltage requirements and warnings such as the following: For indoor use only; Disconnect from supply before removing or inserting any lamp; Do not overload electrical outlets; and Avoid damage to insulation. Do not attach more than the recommended sets of Christmas lights. Normally, only three sets are allowed to avoid overloading.
Keep lights away from combustible materials. If you’re buying ordinary Christmas lights sans safety features, the BFP says its best to keep them away from curtains and other flammable items. The bulbs of this type of Christmas lights easily overheat, which may cause fire. It also helps to position appliances such as your television, computer, sound system and heating devices like your microwave oven in a spacious area to prevent overheating.
Let your lights cool down. Avoid leaving Christmas lights turned on overnight to avoid overheating. This will also help keep your electricity bill from ballooning.
Follow the safety rules. Never place electrical cords under a carpet to prevent someone from stepping on them. Unplug appliances by grasping the plug, not by yanking the cord, to prevent damage. Do not leave infants or children near electrical outlets. Their curiosity may lead to accidents, including fire.
Aside from safety, health is also important to keep in mind this festive season. At this time, social gatherings are inevitable, as well as indulging in food and drink.
Data gathered from the 2006 Philippine Health Statistics showed that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are among the leading causes of death in the country. Cardiovascular disease, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and diabetes mellitus are the four major NCDs acquired through an unhealthy lifestyle.
According to the National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, hypertension cases have increased to 25% from 22% from 2003 to 2008, with diabetic cases increasing from 3.4% to 4.8% The study also revealed an increase in the consumption of food high in fats and sugars and the lack of physical activity among the entire adult population.
To ensure that we enjoy a disease-free Christmas, the Department of Health (DOH) reminds us to take note of the following:
Prepare early. Overfatigue and stress due to rushing and preparing for the holidays may cause health complications such as heart disease and hypertension. Get enough sleep so that the mind and body can rest.
Give safe and age-appropriate toys to children. Choose toys without small and sharp parts, which may cause choking and injury among children. Read and follow instructions carefully.
Prepare well-balanced holiday meals. Aside from rich holiday foods such as ham, lechon, queso de bola and sweets, make sure that your dining table is also loaded with fruits and vegetables. Ensure cleanliness and freshness of foods to avoid food poisoning.
Eat healthy. Eat nutritious foods to sustain your daily activities. Salty and fatty foods are prevalent this season so remember to only eat them on moderation.
Drink plenty of liquids, such as water and fruit juices, to facilitate excretion.
Avoid too much alcohol. Do not drink and drive; we all know how drunk driving results to vehicular accidents. Too much alcohol can cause serious damage to the liver and heart, and may induce strokes.
Guard yourself against sickness. During this season, we’re more susceptible to coughs, colds, and fever. If these symptoms persist for more than five days, consult your doctor.
Greeting everyone a Merry Christmas has become a standard this season, but to truly achieve merriment, remember that health and safety should come first. Here’s to a fire-free, heart-healthy Christmas to everyone!
Sources: BFP | DOH | DTI
It sounds like the apocalypse, but it’s true: a killer earthquake may or may not come in this lifetime, causing thousands of deaths and massive destruction in Manila. Find out what will happen when “The Big One” arrives.
Fault Finding: The Huge Earthquake that’s Waiting to Happen
The Philippines is positioned within the Pacific Ring of Fire, where high seismic activities such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. Apart from the active faults traversing the country, there are 23 active volcanoes that can also generate earthquakes.
On October 15, 2013, a 7.2 magnitude quake jolted Central Visayas, resulting into 222 deaths and destroying over 73,000 houses in less than a minute. With the seismic activity equal to the explosion of thirty-two Hiroshima atomic bombs, the provinces of Bohol and Cebu declared a state of calamity.
Greater Metro Manila Area (GMMA) is not exempt from earthquakes due to the very ripe West Valley Fault. Its 90 to 100-kilometer length crosses Rizal, Marikina, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa and Laguna. Moreover, 35% of the population inhabiting the said areas lives right above this fault line.
The last recorded movement of the West Valley Fault was more than three centuries ago, in 1658. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), a fault line usually moves sometime between two hundred to four hundred years. The movement of the fault is predicted to have a horizontal friction in between plates or what geologists call an “essentially strike slip.” The anticipated killer quake has been dubbed as “The Big One,” which can produce a magnitude 7.2, putting the capital’s population of over eleven million people at risk.
If the epicenter of the major quake hits Metro Manila with an intensity of 8 or 9, three million people would need to be evacuated; an additional 18,300 may perish due to fires in 97,800 buildings throughout the metropolis; 7 bridges would collapse, and secondary hazards such as liquefaction and landslide would also pose risks.
According to the United Nations, our country may lose as much as 19 percent of its urban-produced capital in such an earthquake, suffering economic losses of more than 9 billion US dollars. While, NDRRMC projects 2.3 to 2.4 trillion pesos or 10% loss in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
As always, the key to surviving calamities is knowledge and preparedness. Here’s how you can protect yourself before, during, and after earthquakes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy8-dBTP3-Q
Because life is unpredictable, getting caught in challenging situations is a definite possibility.
One easy way of being prepared is leveling up your EDC or “Everyday Carry,” a collection of small items or gadgets found in your everyday bag, which you can bring wherever you go to ensure your safety and survival. EDC may be customized, depending on your personal needs and budget, but there are basic items that should always be part of it.
No matter what the season—wet or dry—bringing an umbrella is always a wise decision. It protects you, not only from unpredictable rains, but also from the harsh rays of the sun. According to the DOH or Department of Health, overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays may lead to skin cancer.
Darkness is crime and accident’s best friend. The easy solution to power failures and navigating your way around light-deprived areas is a handy, light-weight flashlight. Some flashlights double as keychains, which you can easily hook into your bag’s zipper. If your flashlight is battery-operated, invest in rechargable batteries; they are environment-friendly and come out cheaper in the long run. The Philippine Red Cross recommends using flashlights with LED or Light Emitting Diode bulbs, which use less power, and do not burn out.
Some flashlights are equipped with built-in whistles, which can be used to call attention when you need assistance. Shouting for help takes a toll on your energy reserves and vocal cords.
First Aid Kit
Aside from the usual wound-tending agents such as alcohol, gauze pads, adhesive tape, cotton and piovine-iodine solutions, it’s best to carry medication for common illnesses such as cough, colds, headaches or stomach pains. If you have specific illnesses that require maintenance drugs, keep these meds with you at all times.
Pen and Paper
Taking down notes is one of the simplest things we can do to get important information whether it’s a name, phone number or an address. These can also be used for leaving messages. Here’s an additional tip: You can wrap your pen with thread or duct tape which can also come in handy during emergencies.
Small Scissors or Survival Knife
You can use this to cut ropes, cloth and other light materials. It can also be an effective tool for self-defense. Just make sure that it’s kept in a well-padded container inside your bag to avoid injury.
Since the beginning of time, fire has always been necessary for survival, used for cooking, producing heat, and light. The PRC suggests carrying at least three different items that produce fire: lighter, matches and a magnesium striker. Lighters can turn out to be defective and may run out of fuel. Meanwhile, matches can be difficult to use in windy weather.
These light-weight items can be used to repair or adjust clothes or gear. A safety pin can also be useful in putting keys together, replacing your zipper puller or be an alternative fishing hook.
Food is very important especially when you travel for long hours. Keeping crackers or candies in your bag is one of the easiest ways to satisfy your hunger or diminish dizziness.
Water does not only serve as a thirst-quencher to keep your body hydrated but it can also be used in cleaning wounds.
What’s your EDC? Post it in our comments section and let’s talk about it.
Sources: Department of Health, Philippine Red Cross
Amor Larrosa is a weather reporter of Panahon.TV, aired daily at 5:00AM on the People’s Television (PTV). She goes by the title of Weather Lover and believes that “Ang taong handa at mahinahon, kayang lagpasan ang hamon ng panahon.” Follow her on Twitter.