'Disaster ambassadors' needed to promote safety among Pinoys
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 3, 2014 - 5:59pm

MANILA, Philippines - Government scientist Mahar Lagmay could not forget the time when his post about a typhoon’s latest position got a measly 15 retweets while the simple greeting of an actor got retweeted more than 600 times.

“I tried to tweet that, latest position track of typhoon ‘Pablo’ and I got 15 retweets. And I think this was very important because Pablo was a very powerful typhoon,” Lagmay told participants of a workshop on flood risk management held in Pasig Tuesday.

“At the same time I tweeted, there was this handsome guy from Thailand. His name is Mario Maurer. He tweeted ‘Good afternoon po’. I got 15 retweets, this guy got 680 retweets,” he added.

The Internet users’ response came as a surprise to Lagmay, who serves as executive director of the Science department’s Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards).

“I thought I was feeding information which was much important than good afternoon. What more if he said 'I Love You'? He probably got 6, 800 retweets,” the government scientist said.

Lagmay believes his experience should serve as a lesson for everyone involved in relaying early disaster warnings.

He stressed that communication is very important and that those who relay warnings should understand the mindset of the people.

“No matter what we do, no matter what technology we use, if the people don’t listen or don’t care, everything will just be put to waste,” Lagmay said.

“We need to entice the people, encourage the people to listen to you.”

Lagmay said one sure way to entice people to embrace a culture of safety and preparedness is to tap celebrities and influential figures.

“We need disaster ambassadors,” he said.

“(A disaster ambassador should be) influential. He should be able to get the message across to many people, one who is followed by many. He should be able to get the message internalized and put into action.”

Lagmay noted that celebrities have several followers in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. He said their posts could reach a huge number of people and encourage others to also share the information.

He said among the personalities who can serve as “disaster ambassadors are boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, actress Angel Locsin and comedian Vice Ganda

Lagmay said he has been seeking celebrities’ help in spreading timely warnings about disasters.

“Maybe they didn’t see the tweet,” he said.

Lagmay, however, believes that building a culture of safety is not just the responsibility of the government.

“It’s not just humor, its using different techniques to encourage the people to learn and to know about disasters in order to address the disaster problem,” he said.

“It’s really a community effort, after all, all of us are vulnerable to these hazards…The appropriate response does not happen overnight, it’s based on education, preparedness, and initiative to learn what to do.”


 

ANGEL LOCSIN I LOVE YOU LAGMAY MAHAR LAGMAY MANNY PACQUIAO MARIO MAURER NATIONWIDE OPERATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF HAZARDS PASIG TUESDAY PEOPLE TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
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