Social capital for disaster prevention
MANILA, Philippines – A flood-prone barangay in Quezon City is taking control of its fate during disasters by tapping social connections.
David Lozada reports.
Marilou prepares lunch for her family. After Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, there are two-less people to prepare for. She lost her sister and her niece and all of her possessions.
Living in flood-prone Barangay Bagong Silangan, she says evacuating is part of their lives.
MARILOU ARANDIA, RESIDENT: Madalas kasi nung nakaraang taon siguro mga five times kaming nasa relocation. Sa totoo lang, nung mga nakaraang baha, naaanod yung mga gamit, parang ano ba, parang naaano ka na ring mag-pundar kasi maaanod lang naman… (We evacuate a lot. Last year, in fact, we had to relocate five times. All our possessions got washed away during the past floods. That’s why we don’t invest on appliances anymore.)
Ondoy covered the barangay in water and mud. 60 people died, 200 families lost their homes.
When Typhoon Ondoy struck Bagong Silangan, half of this covered court was filled with dead bodies. The other half served as a shelter for the evacuees. The tragedy taught the barangay to use a more personal approach during disasters.
To make up for the lack of disaster equipment, Bagong Silangan officials tap the social connections in the community. Every time a typhoon is to strike, officials and volunteers go house to house to remind the residents of the disaster and evacuation protocol.
Barangay captain Bing Beltran says the residents' concern for each other makes the system successful.
BING BELTRAN, BARANGAY CAPTAIN; Kailangan tigasan mo rin bilang kapitan ka. Kapag sinabing likas, kailangan lumikas…hindi kami nagtitira kahit isang tao. Kahit na sabihin nila na baka mawala yung gamit nila, kapag sinabi kong walang matitira, walang matitira. (As Barangay Captain, I make sure that the system is strictly implemented. When I say, ‘evacuate,’ people evacuate. We do not leave even one person. Even if the people do not want to leave because of their belongings, we still make sure that they evacuate.)
Only one casualty was reported in the community when Habagat struck in 2012.
Civil Defense spokesperson Major Reynaldo Balido Jr. says Bagong Silangan’s system is commendable.
MAJ. REYNALDO BALIDO JR, OCD SPOKESPERSON: We are encouraging yung ibang LGUs to look at Barangay Bagong Silang, to follow their example. Sa level nila, kaya nilang tumayo, kaya nilang gumawa ng paraan para maging disaster free and disaster resilient. (We are encouraging other LGUs to follow the example of Barangay Bagong Silangan. They can stand and make solutions to become disaster free and disaster resilient.)
Like other residents of Bagong Silangan, Marilou prepares her disaster kit in case she needs to leave her house again. This time, she is optimistic her family will survive with the community.
David Lozada, Rappler, Quezon City. - Rappler.com