As the first of the year’s typhoons treks towards the Visayas, we are reminded of how much vulnerable the Philippines is with regards disasters. As an archipelago located within the Pacific Rim of Fire and the world’s typhoon belt, preparedness is about the best thing we can do in anticipation of whatever Mother Nature hurls at us.
One of our readers deemed it important to share his thoughts on how we can be better prepared to face floods, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, and whatever new perils we receive as the world adapts to changing climates.
Here is what Raymond Tumao wrote: “My love, passion and expertise is in the motor vehicle industry, but when I read the article of Ms. Czeriza Valencia last January 2nd about the cost of natural disasters that hit our country by 2100, it prompted me to write a synopsis of a paper that I had prepared last year about my solution to the occurrence of natural disasters in our country.
“I hope this could open up critical minds, and that this may come helpful not just to citizens living in danger zones but to urban planners who are sincere about preparing us for the worst.
Nature is above religion or creed
“Before I proceed, please put this in your mind: Nature is above all religion or creed. It evolves every second in time, and it does not care what we do or how we react to it.
“If a person says that he would like to hasten or slow down climate change, then expect him to ask for some sort of a monetary return. But if he does not expect any return from it, it is either he does not understand where we stand with regards climate change, or how overwhelming it is to us.
Expecting the worst
“The synopsis of my paper is titled “Expecting the Worst in Natural Disasters.”
“As mentioned in the article mentioned above, weather-related disasters account for 90 percent of annual economic damage, and the total amount of $300 billion has been calculated probably by institutions related to weather forecasting and climate change.
“In my perspective, this is already 50 percent of the solution and the remaining half shall go to the research and experimentation of my solution. Since nobody can dictate to nature what it should do later or tomorrow, we might as well prepare ourselves for the worst that could happen.
“For example: During the Vietnam war, Viets had to dig holes and tunnels to avoid carpet bombings from the GIs. The US government decided then to send in Monsanto’s Agent Orange to defoliate the entire jungle terrain, and it did in a matter of days.
“However, the after-effects took its toll on the citizens including the flora and fauna which is part of their food chain. Traits of radioactive contamination have shown its effects even after two decades of peace time had passed.
“Agent Orange is a chemical disaster caused by man, and so is the Union Carbide chemical leak or the Chernobyl incident which could have been avoided but no amount of compensation could pacify the hurt in those relatives who lost the lives of kin.
“Let us now treat the B-22 bombers [of the Vietnam War] as the typhoon coming, [and the] bombs as strong winds and heavy rainfall. Have you heard of aerodynamic roof spans that divert winds of up to 200 mph? Have you heard of sturdy trees that thrive in coastal areas and swamps that double as fish sanctuary? Have you seen the typhoon shelter in Hong Kong?
“Did you know that with only a phone text away, one can request foreign donors to send vegetable and fruit seeds for planting, fertilizers for continuous growth, animal breeders such as chickens, goats, lambs, rabbits, ducks, geese and cattle for milk instead of commissary packed food?
“Pontoons can be towed from Taiwan, China or other Asian countries to work as temporary wharves, while fiberglass boats could be imported in completely built units or in raw material form and give jobs to victims to build the boats?
“Animals, regardless of whether they are in or out of the food chain, if left unattended with ample feeds around could become pests due to the sheer volume when they multiply. Cats are normally neutered to avoid proliferation. I hate cats and nor do I want to eat them.
“In Thailand, one can see all sorts of worms and bugs sold as street food; we have so many of those and yet many people are hungry. Feeding the hungry is all about protein count. For as long as there is ample protein, more than what the needy could consume, I do not see any problem of hunger. The poor victims are actually potential manpower especially if they are amply fed with the ‘pests’ mentioned earlier.
“The new typhoon-resistant structures we can build are the second line defenders, while the swamp foliage and trees are the first line defenders. Any rise in tide would only make the wharves float higher because it follows the rising and ebbing of tides.
“If only I was given a chance to offer my plans to the Leyte disaster victims, I could have asked the donors to send in what we need most and what we will need to start healthy breeder stocks.
“It is all about food and shelter management, and how I wish the politicians could understand what I have written.”
On the SSS fund
We still have a couple of readers who gave their views on the SSS pension scheme, but we have space for only one. This is from Abraham Estavillo, and he writes: “I am a retired government official with the rank of Chief of Mission II, who before leaving the service, served as Deputy Head of Post, Executive Officer and Political Officer of our embassy in Ottawa, Canada.
“Before I joined the government, I served the Lyceum of the Philippines as associate professor and was member of the SSS for about 10 years. I am receiving a monthly pension of P1,400, and I also wish to see an increment of about P 2,000 which could be easily granted if the SSS Board possess the entrepreneurial ability to adopt a system, similar to the program of DFAMCI where its members receive an annual dividend of P15,000 (equivalent to their maximum share in the cooperative) and annual groceries worth P500.
“DFAMCI operates a restaurant, maintains a small grocery, sells cellphone cards, operates duplicating services, gives loans to members, which assures its profitability. It is also managed by a board elected by the members who do not received salaries as high as the SSS Board members.
“SSS could easily duplicate such feat if its board adopts the same program. A member of the board could be assigned to undertake similar programs, and could add to the services the operation of a pharmacy that would cater to the needs of retirees. Restaurant operations may be undertaken on a national scale, catering not only to SSS members but to everybody.”
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