WV braces for ‘Lando’
THE SOUTHERN BEAT  - Rolly Espina () - November 22, 2007 - 12:00am

Although Negros Occidental Gov. Joseph Marañon and Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia called for a suspension of classes, until yesterday afternoon, there were no reports of floods or landslides.

We have yet to receive reports about the impact of typhoon “Lando” in the provinces of Guimaras, Iloilo and Antique over which typhoon signal no. 2 was hoisted by PAGASA.

But the thing that most impressed me was the public reaction to the storm signal from key officials and their mobilization. Marañon directed local disaster councils to go on alert to cope with possible contingencies that could arise in any part of the province.

On Monday and Tuesday night, I kept vigil in our residence as the winds howled and the rains beat a tattoo on our roof. It was unnerving, but nothing untoward happened. Early Tuesday morning, I toured a portion of Bacolod City to study the impact of the torrential rains on the city’s low-lying areas.

But I realized that the city government, according to Mayor Leonardia, had already suspended classes. The city government had also withdrawn rice from the National Food Authority to assist possible evacuees.

Executive assistant Joemarie Vargas also said the city was prepared to cope with the worst-case scenario.

Other non-government organizations such as the Amity Club (a Filipino-Chinese association) were also on standby with their rescue and relief teams of 40 personnel, including medical volunteers.

Both the City Health Office and the Department of Social Services were also ready to handle medical and food assistance when needed, Vargas explained.

Although floods were expected in the northern portion of the city, Vargas said the disaster team had also included Barangay 41 and Pahanocoy in the south among the critical areas.

City legal officer Allan Zamora added that squatter families in Purok Himulaton, Barangay Banago had already been served a notice to vacate on Nov. 14 and have until Nov. 24 to comply with it.

But the most important point to remember was the renewed participation by the private sector to mobilize themselves for possible assistance to the government in coping with possible contingencies.

Bantay Banwa support

This phenomenon was exemplified by the Bantay Banwa (Guard the Community), which a group of businessmen organized recently to help implement the traffic management scheme of the city government.

The first project of the 24-man group was the donation of 77 international traffic signages to be installed in strategic points in the city. Each costs about P6,000.

The group also issued a call – “Stop Complaining, Do Something” – to assist the city in its campaign to make traffic orderly.

Among the key officials of Bantay Banwa are Roberto Soliven Fred (Bomber) Zyco, Jose Abello, Roger Yap, and Tonette Kilayko.

Perhaps an example of how NGOs can boost tourism was the recent presentation of Antique Day during the Western Visayas Tourism Assembly that ended last week.

The Antique delegation, led by Gov. Sally Zaldivar-Perez, hushed Negrenses with their impressive offering of Karay-a culture.

Hundreds of visitors crowded the north wing of SM City Bacolod when the Antique cultural presentation started.

It kicked off with the eight contestants of the 4” Original Kinaray-a in Music (OKM) contest.

Gov. Perez twitted the Negrenses, thus – Antiqueños, in the past, went to Negros to work as sakadas. However, she said, she is proud of them because they were hardworking, earning an honest living in a harsh and unfriendly environment.

See our patadyongs and taste our muscovado sugar, appealed Gov. Perez.

The Antiqueña members of the troupe also took to the ramp in their stylish banig (mat) gowns, made of local materials and designed by Antiqueño artists and designers.

ADDENDUM. Yesterday, I noticed some early firecracker blasts which were jarring. I haven’t heard much recently. And that reminded me of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas opposing the health department’s proposal to ban pyrotechnics. He cited the many who would be displaced by the DOH proposal. In Iloilo, the Arevalo district is the firecracker capital of Region 6 with many firecracker factories located there. He adverted to the social dimension of the DOH,  asking, “What shall we do with those whose only source of livelihood is manufacturing pyrotechnics?” Treñas pointed out that 80 percent of Arevalo residents are engaged in pyrotechnics manufacture.

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