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He took on typhoons, volcanic eruptions: Bicol’s OCD chief promoted

Rhadyz B. Barcia
He took on typhoons, volcanic eruptions: Bicol’s OCD chief promoted
The 'Disaster Paradise' that is Bicol went through hardships and employed team work before it got recognized for resilience during the 10 years he served the region, says Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro

ALBAY, Philippines – Bernardo Rafaelito “Raffy” Alejandro bid his post farewell as Bicol’s Office of Civil Defense (OCD) chief on Friday, March 3, after 10 years of service and countless engagements during natural calamities.

As he was promoted to join the OCD central office, he turned over the regional post to Blanche Gobenciong, the first female director in the country’s so-called laboratory of natural disasters.

Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, administrator of the OCD and executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council here, graced the ceremony.

“Before we started to walk on the pedestal of resilience, we steadfastly withstood all the hardships, disillusionments, sorrows, and challenges that the ‘Disaster Paradise’ had to offer,” Alejandro told his colleagues.

“Bulusan, Mayon, Reming, Seniang, Yolanda, Glenda, Nona and Nina were just a few of the popular names that we came across over the years. Major volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, storm surges, flooding and some 40 typhoons in average – all of these shaped and made up the kind of disaster management capability that Bicol has today,” he said.

He mused, “I find it an irony that disasters seem to love me,” from the moment he began his term till the end of it, when Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) hit on Christmas day.

Alejandro said Bicol saw much improvement in its disaster preparedness, response, mitigation, and rehabilitation capabilities.

Successful disaster response, however, was a team effort, he said, thanking OCD Bicol and the various government agencies and organizations he had worked with.

He recounted Albay-OCD Bicol’s humanitarian missions in Northern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. “This seamless partnership, with special mention to the Province of Albay, enabled us to send 18 humanitarian missions outside the region including the ground zero response during the Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas region.”

The partnership garnered them awards and recognition.

TURNOVER. Bernardo Rafaelito 'Raffy' Alejandro passes leadership responsibilities to director Blanche Gobenciong. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

For 10 years under his watch in OCD, Bicol region was given recognized for its disaster mitigation and resiliency program. These include the “Bakas Parangal ng Kadakilaan,” “Galing Pook,” “Bayaning Likas,” and “Bakas Parangal ng Kabayanihan,” as well as Gawad Kalasag Hall of Fame Awards.

Alejandro thanked former Albay governor and now Representative Joey Salceda and past and current local officials for his support in disaster response.

To his successor, he said: “Continue to build what we have started here in the region. Now that you are in the driving seat, Bicol region will continuously work toward the disaster management vision…. Continue the dedication and commitment of building a safer and adaptive community.” –

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