Surviving ‘super’ typhoons

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

If we go by the history of calamities and disasters that have befallen upon the Philippines through these years, the phenomenon that we now call as “super typhoons” have been the primary causes of deaths and devastation. Internationally rated as “category 5” cyclone, “Haiyan” or “Yolanda” by its local name, was the most recent, single, strongest “super typhoon” that wrought so much destruction of lives and properties to millions of Filipinos. Thus, both “Haiyan” and “Yolanda” were erased, deleted forever from the international and local list of names for typhoons and other weather disturbances.

Fortunately, “Karding” (with international name “Noru”) turned out to be much less destructive kind of “super typhoon.” According to our own Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), our country has an established weather pattern. An average of 20 typhoons come and visit our country each year. And that most of the “super typhoons” occur towards the last few months of each year.

“Karding” was the latest “super typhoon” that entered the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR), using the language of our weather forecasters from the PAGASA.

From January this year, “Karding” was the 11th typhoon that came in. According to our weather forecasters, at least two to four more typhoons are projected to enter PAR next month. It’s October already this Saturday.

As of the latest official report by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), there were eight confirmed typhoon-related deaths due to “Karding.” Sadly, five of the casualties were rescuers themselves from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) of Bulacan. The five victims were on their way to a rescue mission to safely evacuate people in San Miguel, Bulacan amid heavy rainfall and neck-deep flooding. On board a motorboat, concrete walls reportedly fell on them. They got trapped and drowned in the process. Describing them as “veteran rescuers,” Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando honored them as “mga bayani ng kalamidad,” or heroes in calamity.

Such unexpected, freak accidents do happen. Other than the hazards faced by the people caught in the middle of a calamity or disaster, these also pose great risks to first responders on perilous rescue missions. It is so sad, however, that this tragedy took place. Certainly, we do not wish our first responders and disaster frontliners to die even before they could save people needing to be rescued.

As expected, there are renewed calls for the immediate passage into law of the proposed creation of a Department of Risk Reduction (DRR). Several DRR bills were filed in the past but never got through the legislative mills. The ball has been thrown again to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (PBBM for short) and the present 19th Congress.

Two months into office at Malacanang Palace, PBBM got its first test in disaster mitigation by “Florita,” classified by PAGASA as Category 3 “severe tropical storm.” It crossed the PAR in August this year with the President’s home province Ilocos Norte, Abra and other Northern Luzon provinces hardest hit by heavy rains, floods and destroyed crops, cut off power supply, and other basic infrastructure.

At that time, PBBM along with Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and presidential sister, Sen.Imee Marcos all agreed on the urgency of having a more permanent structure than relying on the present NDRRMC set up. Their idea was to organize a similar set up patterned from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the United States. More than a month passed, nothing moved towards this direction.

In his address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York last week, PBBM underscored that climate change “is the greatest threat” to all countries and peoples. The Philippine President called upon industrialized countries to immediately fulfill their obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. He challenged them “to lead by example” in cutting down their “greenhouse” gas emissions, provide climate financing, and technology transfer for adaptation needed by the most vulnerable and developing countries.

“We accept our share of responsibility and will continue to do our part to avert this collective disaster,” PBBM declared. As one of the country-signatories to both international agreements on climate change, the Philippines “looks forward to concrete outcomes” at the Conference of Parties slated in Egypt later this year, PBBM added.

“The time for talk about ‘if and when’ has long since passed – it is here. It is now,” PBBM avowed.

While the Chief Executive was making these big pronouncements at the UNGA, a parallel conference on Climate and Disaster Emergency Policy Forum was being held here in Metro Manila. The daylong Forum tackled the “2023-2028 PBBM Agenda” on climate change. However, such very serious matters on climate change did not merit much attention in media.

It was a joint, multi-agency and private sector Forum organized and convened by Albay Congressman Joey Salceda and the Local Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) for Development of Albay. Salceda is a UN First Senior Global Champion on CCA-DRR and formerly was the co-chairperson of Green Climate Fund. Now as the chairman of the House committee on ways and means, Salceda is tasked with shepherding at the Lower Chamber revenue-raising measures that could help finance the climate and disaster actions drawn up by the PBBM administration.

During that Forum, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reported that 98 percent of the total damages incurred by our country were caused by climate-related hazards. In fact, the NEDA noted, that the Philippines ranked the fourth most affected by impacts of climate-related extreme weather events.

Attaining “zero casualty” during a super typhoon event like “Karding” should be the basic human instinct goal. There would be greater chances of surviving “super typhoons” if early preemptive measures were done yesterday.


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with