My memories of the most impactful storm I have lived through are about as clear as they could be for a nine-year old at that time. In 2009, I saw Typhoon Ondoy catch the country by surprise and open the eyes of Filipinos to the importance of disaster risk reduction and management. Although my family was spared by the effects of the typhoon, it still hit close to home as the floods that Ondoy triggered submerged my grandmother’s home. As a young girl, the concept was inconceivable and surreal. I could not grasp how it was possible that the house I visited weekly could be buried under nearly ten feet of water. To this day, the events of Ondoy remain a core memory for me—despite having been minimally affected by it. Thus, I could only imagine how thousands of other Filipinos felt after the disastrous events last November.
November 2020 has been anything but kind toward the country. A handful of storms consecutively ravaged our nation, leaving many homeless, hungry, and helpless—all while still in the midst of a global pandemic.
Just recently, hundreds of Filipino families from the Cagayan Valley once again fled to evacuation centers as villages were flooded due the overflowing Cagayan River. This happened merely a few weeks after the province was devastated by the greatest flooding it has experienced in the past forty years.
Last November 12, Typhoon Ulysses submerged Tuguegarao City. Houses were literally underwater, people were screaming for rescue from their rooftops, and in lieu of cars, rubber rescue boats roamed the streets. Media footage from the province depicted scenes that seemed surreal — as if they were taken straight out of a sci-fi or apocalyptic film.
Footage of helicopter dropping relief goods in Cagayan (Video courtesy of Philippine Air Force)
The catastrophe resulted in 29 lives lost from flooding and landslides in Cagayan Valley. Damage brought by Typhoon Ulysses was compounded when the seven spillway gates of Magat Dam in Ramon were opened. This was due to the dam reaching its capacity limit, causing water to overflow into the towns, resulting to the wreckage that Cagayanos are still trying to recover from weeks after. Until now, people are asking: Who should be held liable for the drowning of Cagayan?
The Men behind the Curtain: Magat Dam Operators and Engineers
The volume of approximately 106 Olympic-sized swimming pools was the amount of water released when Magat Dam opened its seven spillway gates. The NIA-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (Mariis) said this was a necessary decision to prevent the breaking of the dam—which would have resulted to an even greater disaster.
According to Mark Timbal, spokesperson of the Office of Civil Defense, the dam reaching its full capacity was due to the overflowing of the Cagayan River — caused by the multiple, consecutive monsoons and storms that hit the country. However, fingers were being pointed toward the dam operators because of the lack of proper notice to Cagayan Valley citizens before the dam release. Furthermore, Magat Dam’s operators were under fire for only opening the gates at the height of Typhoon Ulysses’s impact and not earlier—given that the swelling of Cagayan River was already occurring before the typhoon had made landfall.
NIA-Mariis claimed that advisories regarding the dam’s activity were duly made, utilizing various channels in doing so. Advisories about the opening of two of the dam’s gates were released as early as November 9—a week before Typhoon Ulysses struck. Nonetheless, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba acknowledged that the announcement came on short notice.
The Men behind the Country: President Duterte and His Administration
In the midst of Typhoon Ulysses’s terror, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque pleaded netizens to stop fueling the trending hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo. This hashtag first gained popularity in early November when Filipinos were wondering why the president was not visible while the nation braced for Typhoon Rolly, which had already been identified as the world’s strongest storm this year. The hashtag once again resurfaced when the President was nowhere to be found at the peak of the typhoon’s devastation.
Last November 26, 2020, the Senate approved the national budget for 2021, in which 21 billion pesos will be allotted for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) fund, while 15 billion pesos will be designated for the rehabilitation spending of Local Government Units (LGUs). The allocation seemed hardly enough to attend to the needs of severely stricken areas such as Cagayan, Isabela, Bicol, and Catanduanes — all affected by the four typhoons this November. The total amount of damage pegged for Typhoon Rolly amounted to Php 11 billion, while Typhoon Ulysses was estimated to have cost the country a total loss of nearly Php 13 billion.
The Men Behind the Climate Emergency: Capitalists and Corporations
The swelling of the Cagayan River was caused by the staggering amount of rainfall brought by the consecutive typhoons that affected the country prior to Ulysses. It is worth noting, however, that existing environmental damage worsened the effects of the opening of the spillways and the flooding. Due to the deforestation in the mountains of Cagayan Valley, yellow corn farming practices, and the use of toxic herbicide, natural resources meant to cushion the impacts of disasters were non-existent.
As early as 2018, there have already been reports regarding the illegal logging at Sierra Madre as investigated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). For the past ten years, this prohibited trade has persisted. As the longest mountain range in the country, Sierra Madre is the country’s largest natural barrier against the approximately 20 tropical cyclones that enter the Philippines yearly.
Individuals may play a role in mitigating these environmental attacks and lessening the damage to the environment, but it would be unfair to pressure the masses for change when corporations are more capable of bringing widespread effects — if they change their environmentally exploitative practices. For years, I beat myself up — not to mention those around me — for using wasteful, plastic straws. It took me a while to realize that in spite of my individual efforts in being environmentally friendly, my endeavors are merely trivial. The phenomenon of eco-fascism continues to burden the working class with responsibility while leaving those in power unchecked. It leaves the masses with the burden to purchase more costly ecological products and the pressure to switch to a more “sustainable” lifestyle, while billionaires and corporations continue their consumerist practices that deplete and degrade natural resources—and still end up profiting from these.
With all this being said— what now? There’s a saying that says it is not a sin to be unaware; but it’s a sin you choose to look away despite having your eyes opened. The work, therefore, does not stop at finding accountability.
Continue to donate and help Cagayan.
In light of the recent disasters, we have seen Filipinos step up when the government failed to do so. Although this should not equate to absolving those in power of responsibility, there are ongoing donation drives in support of relief operations for Cagayan that are accepting cash and in-kind donations.
It is vital to keep ourselves updated and informed about the policies and environmental decisions which impact all of us. Case in point: Sierra Madre continues to be in danger due to the construction of the Kaliwa Dam — said to be the solution to Metro Manila’s water issues. The construction of the dam will not only bring ecological destruction but also displace local communities located near the mountain range. As stakeholders, it is our responsibility to make our voices heard regarding decisions on matters like these — and it is through staying informed that we create more informed stances.
Engage others in conversation.
Ultimately, I wrote this article, hoping to broaden our perspective on the depth of these issues. In line with staying informed, engaging others in discourse about these topics generates a constant conversation that helps issues like this remain in the public sphere.
Finally, for the answer to the question: whodunnit? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
Corcione, A. (2020, April 30). What to Know About Eco-Fascism – and How to Fight It.
Retrieved from https://www.teenvogue.com/story/what-is-ecofascism-explainer.
Deiparine, C. (2020, November 5). Total cost of damage from ‘Rolly’ now at P11 billion — NDRRMC. Retrieved from https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/11/05/2054788/total-cost-damage-rolly-now-p11-billion-ndrrmc.
Deiparine, C. (2020, November 22). ‘Ulysses’ cost of damage now at P12.9 billion. Retrived from https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/11/22/2058624/ulysses-cost-damage-now-p129-billion.
Gotinga, J. (2020, November 26). Senate passes P4.5-trillion 2021 budget bill on final reading.
House to seek ₱5-B increase in calamity funds under 2021 budget. (2020, November 22).
Miraflor, M. B. (2020, November 17). Kaliwa Dam feared to worsen flooding in Metro Manila.
Philippine Daily Inquirer. (2018, July 12). Logging continues in Sierra Madre – DENR. Retrieved
Ropero, G. (2020, November 15). Cagayan, Isabela residents warned of Magat Dam water
release: NIA. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/11/15/20/cagayan-isabela-residents-warned-of-magat-dam-water-release-nia#:~:text=%22It%20is%20necessary%20to%20release,Valley)%2C%22%20it%20said.
Salaverria, L. (2020, November 14). Roque plea to netizens: Stop asking ‘Nasaan ang
Pangulo?’. Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1360495/roque-plea-to-netizens-stop-asking-nasaan-ang-pangulo.
Typhoon Donation Drives. (2020, November 23). Retrieved from https://theguidon.com/1112/main/2020/11/donation-drive-crowdsourcing/ .
Visaya, V. Jr. (2020, November 17). Deaths from ‘Ulysses’ floods in Cagayan Valley reach 29.
Retrieved from https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1122127#:~:text=Thirteen died in Cagayan province,from floods after the typhoon.
Visaya, V. Jr. (2020, November 18). Severe flooding shows Cagayan Valley environmental risks.
Earthquake Survival quite literally begins in your own home. To ensure safety against tremors, it’s important to assess your living space to know what types of repair and reinforcement it needs to be quake-resilient.
You can begin your home inspection by examining two major factors: its content and structure.
Securing House Contents
It is important to identify the items that can possibly move, break or fall when a quake jolts your house.
Things to remember:
1. Secure hanging fixtures on the wall and ceiling.
2. Strap down hazardous electrical components.
3. To prevent tipping, heavy and tall objects such as appliances and cabinets must be anchored or braced using a flexible fastener like a nylon strap and a hook.
4. Place the fragile, large and weighty objects on the lower shelves of cabinets.
5. Lock the cabinets if possible.
6. Rearrange large things including framed pictures and mirrors away from seats and beds to prevent injury to occupants when ground shaking occurs.
7. Ensure elastic connector on gas stoves or appliances.
8. Check the accessibility of fire exits.
9. Know when and how to shut off utility lines.
Checking Home Integrity
According to the Metro Manila Earthquake Reduction Study (MMEIRS), 38.3% of residential buildings in Mega Manila might be damaged when the Valley Fault System moves. 339,800 of them will be partly disrupted while 168,300 will be heavily dented. Unlike other hazards, quakes can transpire anytime without warning, bringing secondary dangers such as fire, liquefaction and ground rupture among others.
This study led PHIVOLCS in coming up with a checklist that homeowners can use in assessing how their Concrete Hollow Block (CHB) house will fare in the event of a strong quake. This checklist is applicable to 1- and 2-storey houses, and a must for houses built before 1992 when the earthquake resistance standards were introduced to the Building Code.
Evaluation will be based from the tally of scores from the 12-point checklist:
0 – 7: Assessment is disturbing and needs consultation with experts as soon as possible.
8 – 10: House requires strengthening and expert consultation.
11 – 12: Seems safe but needs confirmation from experts.
PHIVOLCS recommends consulting with a licensed architect or civil engineer and a licensed contractor for official assessments. Aside from further renovation, checking your foundation for cracks must be done whenever there are interferences— natural or manmade— that happened in your area.
Building a Quake Resilient House
1. Have a licensed civil engineer or architect supervise the building of your house to ensure compliance to Building and Structural Codes.
2. Construct a regular-shaped house on a rock or stiff soil. Avoid building structures on muddy and reclaimed lands.
3. Use 6-inch thick concrete hollow blocks.
4. Vertical bars should be 100 mms. in diameter and must only have a 40-cm gap in between.
5. Horizontal bars must be 10 mms. thick and spaced between 3 layers of CHB.
6. Walls more than 3 meters wide have to be reinforced.
7. May need to add more foundation.
8. Use light materials on gable walls. Gable wall is the triangular area that connects the roof and the wall. Or better yet, build a flat roof house.
Lashing with heavy winds and moderate to intense rains, Dodong’s eye passed over Pananapan Point in Sta. Ana, Cagayan 4:45 this afternoon.
The typhoon made landfall, bearing maximum sustained winds of 185 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 220 kph. Once it made contact with the land, it slowed down a bit, moving north northwest at 17 kph.
Based on PAGASA’s latest weather bulletin issued at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, here are the areas under public storm warning signals:
In a press briefing held late afternoon in PAGASA, State Meteorologist Aldczar Aurelio said that after Cagayan, Dodong will head towards the Batanes area in the following hours.
If it maintains its current speed and direction, the typhoon is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Tuesday morning and will continue to move towards Southern Japan.
As for the expected weather conditions in the country tonight, the areas under signal #4 will continue to experience a stormy weather due to the typhoon. The provinces under signal #3 can expect rains with gusty winds. On the other hand, areas under signal #1 and #2 will have light to moderate rain showers. The rest of the country can expect partly cloudy to cloudy skies with localized thunderstorms.
Meanwhile, PAGASA releases a new gale warning over the eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon. These coastal areas will experience strong to gale force winds and rough to very rough sea conditions generated by Typhoon Dodong. All fishermen are advised against sea travel in the following hours.
In other news, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) released an advisory today pertaining to the highly susceptible barangays in Sta. Ana, Baggao and Gonzaga in Cagayan.
Here is the list:
At 10:00 AM today, the center of the typhoon Hagupit was estimated at 1,543 kilometers east of Davao City. Packing winds of 140 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 170 kilometers per hour, it maintains its velocity moving west-northwest at 30 kilometers per hour.
If it maintains its speed and direction, it is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) tomorrow, Thursday, and will be given the local name “Ruby”. Upon entering the PAR, the typhoon will bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains over Southern Luzon and Visayas.
In a press briefing held earlier today at the PAGASA Weather and Flood Forecasting Center, two scenarios are still expected to happen. However, most meteorological models show a higher chance of landfall activity.
PAGASA Weather Forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said the first possible outcome is the typhoon making landfall over Eastern Visayas, bringing moderate to occasionally heavy rains. Aside from possible flash floods and landslides, storm surges of up to 3 to 4 meters could also occur.
On the other hand, the second scenario shows that if the high pressure area (HPA) weakens, it will give way for Hagupit to re-curve away from the country, leading to Japan. Everyone is advised to monitor updates regarding the approaching typhoon.
No direct effect yet
Hagupit is still far to directly affect the country. However according to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Glaiza Escullar, the outer cloud band of the typhoon is gradually reaching PAR, bringing cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms over Eastern Visayas.
Meanwhile, the northeast monsoon or amihan continues to prevail over Nothern and Central Luzon. Cagayan Valley will have cloudy skies with light rains while the regions of Cordillera, Ilocos and Central Luzon will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains. Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.
Gale warning includes the seaboards of Northern Luzon and the eastern seaboard of Central Luzon. Fishing boats and other small seacraft are prohibited from venturing over the seaboards of Batanes, Calayan, Babuyan, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Isabela and Aurora.
“Hagupit” compared to previous typhoons
Based on the climatological records of PAGASA, Typhoon Camilla (1949), Typhoon Aning (1966) and Typhoon Seniang (2006) have almost the same location where Hagupit would originate as it enters the PAR.
Geographically speaking, Metro Manila serves as a catch basin of water from the highlands. There are even areas in the metropolis that are below sea level, including Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela, as noted by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino.
What else might be causing the floods? Garbage-clogged drainages are a big source of the problem, with informal settlers along waterways as major contributors to such blockage.
Aside from the 77 listed ongoing road projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), thunderstorms bringing heavy rains over Metro Manila have compounded the problem, affecting commuters and motorists, especially during rush hour.
During or after heavy rains, we advise motorists and commuters against passing through the top ten crucial areas that are most prone to flooding.
1. España Boulevard, Manila
With Manila’s high concentration of colleges, universities and offices, a vast number of students and employees take this route. The opening and dismissal of students and employees dictate the traffic flow in the area, which worsens when rain pours, causing floods, particularly on the intersection of España and Nicanor Reyes Street.
2. Burgos to Manila City Hall Vicinity
MMDA identifies the culprits behind flooding in this area: clogged drainage system and the general public’s bad habits of indiscriminate trash disposal.
3. R. Papa to Rizal Avenue in Manila
MMDA advises motorists of all types of vehicles against passing R. Papa to Rizal Avenue during or after the rains. This is because floodwater goes knee-deep or even higher, due to the waters from Caloocan City flowing towards Estero de Obrero.
4. Quirino Avenue to Padre Faura St.; Lawton Plaze and Taft Avenue
A few government buildings as well as the Philippine General Hospital, the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region headquarters, Manila Science High School, UP-Manila, and numerous hotels are just a few points of interest in this area, which can be reached via a two-lane road going north and south. Just imagine the congestion of traffic, compounded during and after a heavy downpour.
5. Roxas Boulevard
Commuters and car-owners passing through the main thoroughfares along EDSA find themselves in a traffic deadlock in Roxas Boulevard as vehicles move at a snail’s pace. To keep this area from being flooded, Tolentino swears by using sandbags.
6. Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay
Located in the reclamation areas, the eight-lane road Macapagal Boulevard is often used to travel towards Cavite to the south and the SM Mall of Asia to the north. MMDA reports clogging of the drainage canals in this area as the reason for its recent flooding incidents.
7. EDSA – Taft
Being a terminal hub for thousands of commuters (the MRT-Taft Station, LRT EDSA-Taft and Baclaran stations), this area also serves as the gateway of motorists from the south going to the north. This EDSA Segment records knee-deep floods, making the area not passable to light vehicles.
8. EDSA Megamall
Majority of the buses pass EDSA and this mall serves as a terminal for commuters. As traffic congestion happens, daily commuters and motorists are affected especially when combined with heavy downpour.
9. EDSA – Camp Aguinaldo Gate 3
According to Engineer Maxima Quiambao, head of the MMDA Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office, there is a mismatch in the sizes of the drainage pipes in this area. The pipes in Camp Aguinaldo, which are 36 inches in diameter, are connected to 24-inch diameter pipes along the main avenue. To remedy the issue, the MMDA has positioned a vacuum truck in the mentioned area to help drain floodwater during heavy rains.
10. North Avenue in front of Trinoma
Being the north-end of the MRT line and having two big malls, Trinoma and SM City North EDSA, this area serves as a transport hub for commuters going to northern destinations such as Bulacan and Caloocan city. Floodwater level can reach up to 8 inches in this area, according to the MMDA.
Did you experience any flooding in your area or while commuting? We’d like to see your photos! Share with us your flood-photos by posting on our PanahonTV Facebook page.
For your complete reference, here are the 22 flood-prone areas released by the MMDA:
España-Antipolo-Maceda in Manila
P. Burgos-Manila City Hall vicinity
R. Papa-Rizal Avenue, Manila
Osmeña-Skyway northbound and southbound, Makati
EDSA Pasong Tamo, Magallanes Tunnel
Don Bosco, Makati
Buendia-South Superhighway southbound
Buendia-South Superhighway northbound
EDSA-North Avenue, Quezon City
Philcoa Area, Quezon City
Quezon Avenue, Victory avenue/Biak na Bato
EDSA – Camp Aguinaldo Gate 3
North Avenue in front of Trinoma
C-5 Bayani Road
NLEX Balintawak – Cloverleaf
West Service Road, Merville, Paranaque
C-5 Mckinley Road
Buendia extension Macapagal avenue – World Trade
East Service Road, Sales Street
C-5-BCDA, Taguig City
Yesterday evening, Metro Manila experienced continuous rains that caused flooding in different areas.
PAGASA Weather Forecaster Aldczar Aurelio explained that these are brought about by the southwest monsoon or “habagat,” typically experienced in July, August and September. Its warm and moist characteristics are sometimes enhanced by weather disturbances like the tropical cyclone.
According PAGASA weather forecaster Gener Quitlong, heavy rains over Metro Manila is due to the combined effect of the “habagat” and Tropical Storm Mario.
As of September 18, 2014, here is the rainfall data:
Ondoy vs. Habagat
Compared to the rains brought by Ondoy to Manila in 2009, which was recorded at 455 millimeters at the Quezon City Science Garden within a 24-hour period, the recent habagat has brought 268 millimeters of rain within the same time frame.
This is because the rains we are experiencing now are not a direct effect of Tropical Storm Mario, unlike before when we were hit directly by Typhoon Ondoy.
Just before you step out to jumpstart your whole-day outdoor adventure with friends, the skies suddenly release sheets of rain. Before you scream at the unfairness of it all, take heart! You can still have fun even with gloomy weather.
Nowadays, escapades are not confined only to the great outdoors. Don’t let the rain ruin your weekend by heading indoors! Here are some rain-friendly activities you can enjoy with friends and family.
Christmas is less than a hundred days away! Now is the time to head on to bazaars, mall sales and your favorite discount stores to score the best deals for yuletide gifts. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping. When you’re in the thick of the holiday rush, you’re more likely to also rush your shopping. This means less time to mull over your choices (which may now be limited because of the competition) and you may end up spending more than you planned.
Feed your mind.
Let your brain munch on some food for thought for a change. Have a field day at the museums that pepper the metro. Brush up on local culture and history at The National Museum. Get your dose of modern art at the Vargas Museum. Take a peek at business magnate Eugenio Lopez’s private art collection at the Lopez Museum. Planning to bring along kids? Then we suggest visiting family-oriented interactive museums such as the multi-faceted Museo Pambata, and the science-themed Mind Museum and the Exploreum. Fun learning can also be had at the Manila Ocean Park, where both children and the child-at-heart can get up close and personal with our fascinating aquatic neighbors. Before going to these establishments, do check out their operating hours on their websites so you’re sure they’re open.
Indulge in some movie magic.
Going to the movies is a no-brainer when it’s raining. But why not up the ante and skip the Hollywood-themed flicks to check out films off the beaten track? September is a great month for movie buffs since they can check out Cine Europa, which features 23 films from Austria, Belguim, Netherlands and other European countries. Meanwhile, locally produced documentaries claim the spotlight in Cine Totoo, produced by independent filmmakers from all over the country.
Eat, drink, and stay dry.
There is never a shortage of eateries in the metro. Drag your friends and hole yourselves in a cozy café or restaurant and chat the rainy blues away. You can even turn it into a food trip, hopping from one nearby gastronomic establishment to the next to sample their signature specialties.
Home is where the action is.
When the winds are howling, typhoon-style and the rains show no sign of backing down, think of your safety first and stay home. Bust out those board games, attack the clutter in your cabinet, or bake some goodies. It’s up to you to make the most out of your day, regardless of the weather.