ON JUNE 21, 2008, super typhoon Frank (international name Fengshen) blasted the Island of Panay, causing great floods and destruction in the City of Iloilo. In September 2009, typhoon Ondoy attacked the island of Luzon leaving behind more than 460 casualties. In August 2012, killer typhoon Gener hit the island of Luzon, leaving behind at least 60 casualties caused by torrential monsoon rains and heavy floods.
On December 4, 2012, super typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) struck Mindanao, particularly the province of Davao Oriental. The typhoon had a maximum wind of 210 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center before it entered the Philippine area of responsibility. At least 200,000 people were left homeless as their houses were damaged, if not wiped out, by flash floods, particularly Compostela Valley province. Schools, hospitals, private buildings and other structures in some towns and villages in Southern Philippines were ripped apart by the powerful storm that hit the country in 2012.
On December 26, 2012, typhoon Quinta (international name Wukong) ravaged the provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, and Aklan as it made a landfall in the night of Christmas Day. The heavy rains brought by the typhoon were unexpected. At least 481 barangays were affected, at least 213,900 individuals were displaced and at least 13 casualties were reported due to flash floods and landslides. On November 8, 2013, super typhoon Yolanda devastated the country upon landfall on Leyte, Samar, and Iloilo, among others, killing at least 6,300 people.
In July 2014, typhoon Glenda shut down Metro Manila, leaving the megacity a shambles and without power, and took at least 20 lives. On October 10, 2014, heavy rains flooded some parts of Iloilo City. While PAGASA did not hoist any storm signal in Western Visayas amid the onslaught of super typhoon Ompong (Vongfong), the intertropical convergence zone affected the Visayas and Mindanao regions. Super typhoon Ompong is the strongest typhoon that entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) in 2014.
These natural disasters are some of the noted calamities that occurred in the country in the last ten years. We have no choice but to prepare for the greater ones in the years to come if we cannot stop climate change and repair our planet from further environmental destruction.
Four years ago (2014), a ten-year-old Grade 5 pupil of Lacayon Elementary School in Bugasong, Antique, and winner in the regional DSWD Search for Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya children reminded everyone “to plant trees and not to throw cellophane in the surroundings” to help save the environment. This lesson left by our young pupil is commendable to remind our schools and the community about the importance of planting trees as one way of delaying climate change.
The implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP) pursuant to Executive Order No. 23 and Executive Order No. 26 both series of 2011 mandating the DA-DAR-DENR convergence initiative to develop the NGP in coordination with Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), private sectors and other concerned agencies and institutions.
Another program we need to recognize is the Gawad KALASAG program or Search for Excellence in Disaster Risk Management and Humanitarian Assistance. It was conceived to encourage participation of various stakeholders in designing and implementing Disaster Risk Management programs aimed at protecting or shielding high-risk communities against hazards. It recognizes individuals, groups or institutions that have shown extraordinary courage, heroism, self-sacrifice, and bravery against all odds in times of natural and human-induced emergencies and disasters. It also recognizes schools and hospitals which have implemented significant Disaster Risk Management programs.