When Flooding Strikes: Be Informed, Be Prepared

metro flood

Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer

It’s another rainy weekend. Heavy rains started yesterday and still persisted this morning. Another round of flooding in various parts of Metro Manila.

Flooding Now A Regular Occurrence?

Circumstances and landscapes have changed a lot from only a few years ago.  Before, we know the usual flood-prone places in Metro Manila  like Malabon and Navotas. Now, a big part of Metro Manila gets flooded in times of continuous rains. Even some provinces are not spared of this flooding problem.

Is flooding a natural disaster? No, I don’t think so. Raining is a natural phenomenon. But severe flooding is caused by our inability to properly take care of the resources that we have been blessed with. We continue to build tall and taller buildings in an already densely-populated metropolis. People continue to build homes beside waterways and low-lying areas.  We use plastic products and throw these wherever we like.

Flooding and Social Media

If we have to accept severe flooding as a regularly occurring phenomenon in the Philippines, we must learn how to deal with flooding so that we can go on with our lives. We should be informed, so we can be prepared. Aside from traditional media (print, radio, TV), social media has also proven its worth in giving out relevant information in times of flooding and other disasters. Facebook and Twitter accounts of news sites regularly give updates on weather and flooding status.

In Twitter, I’ve grouped into a list a few useful accounts to follow in times of heavy rains. Weather updates, flood updates, traffic news, and class suspensions can be monitored in these accounts. Rescue and relief efforts can also be reported and monitored using the hashtags #rescueph and #reliefph.

twitter list umuulan

Philam Life’s FRIENDS

In line with its mission to “empower Filipinos to achieve financial security and prosperity,” Philam Life will be holding a “Family Readiness in Emergencies and Natural Disasters Seminar” or FRIENDS. This is part of the company’s BalikBayani Forum for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). OFWs currently on vacation in the Philippines, and those with OFW relatives are invited to take part in this free seminar about emergency and disaster preparedness.  Seminar will be held on Wednesday, September 19,1-5pm,  at Philamlife Cubao Office in Aurora Blvd beside LRT2 Gateway station. Those interested to join may email me at mas10ph@gmail.com or comment below for details.

It’s scary to think that severe flooding is the new “normal.” Let’s intensify our efforts in protecting our environment so that we may reverse the damage that we have inflicted in our surroundings.

Disclosure: I am a financial advisor affiliated with Philam Life.


Small Claims Court to Improve Access to Justice

small claims court

Supreme Court administrator Midas Marquez and Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Jackie Crisologo-Saguisag respond to questions about the recently reintroduced Small Claims Court that improves access to justice for the common Filipino through a simple process, face-to-face settlement and speedy resolution of disputes.

In this country, justice is seen to be something that can be attained only if one has the money and right connections. What then will be the recourse of the poor who do not have either one?

In answer to that concern, the Small Claims Court was established through the Supreme Court’s special rule of procedure.  As a pioneering effort of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, it aims to provide an efficient means for the masses to settle disputes involving monetary claims instead of the regular civil process.

The Small Claims Court, which has been in effect since October 2008, can hear and decide civil claims amounting to P100,000 and below, not including interests and costs. Claims filed under these courts include actual damages to vehicles, other personal property, real property and person; money owed under a contract of lease, loan, services, sale or mortgage; and civil actions such as payment of money covered by bounced or stopped checks.

All first level courts which include Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts are designated as Small Claims Courts.

For claims not more than P100,000, a four-step process assures an affordable, informal and simple settlement of cases .

  1. The claimant must file the documents, evidences and affidavit needed for the cases at the Clerk of Court in his municipality.

  2. He or she must then pay the P1,000 fee per claim for indigents. Additional fees may be charged for non-indigent claimants.

  3. Claimant must wait for the “summons of hearing” as the case is being raffled by the court.

  4. Once called, one should appear before the designated Small Claims Court on the hearing date for the final decision and settlement mandated by the judge.

The process allows the parties to handle their own case from start to finish with ready-made forms and non-strict procedural rules, without needing a lawyer. Judges decide based on facts presented and evidence obtained in one hearing. Before hearing the case on merit, judges try to convince the parties to settle amicably in the barangay as decisions made through the Small Claims Courts are final and cannot be appealed.

“The Supreme Court hopes to increase the access to justice of indigent and disadvantaged Filipinos through the inexpensiveness, accessibility and expediency of the Small Claims Court,” said Supreme Court administrator Midas Marquez.

Caritas Manila Continues Relief Efforts For Flood Victims

Caritas Damayan poster

Even as last week’s rains in Metro Manila and nearby provinces have stopped, some areas remain flooded. Many flood victims are still  in evacuation centers.

Caritas Damayan, the Catholic Church’s relief assistance and emergency program, continues with its relief efforts for the flooding victims. As of August 15, Caritas Damayan has provided relief assistance to families in the parishes under the Archdiocese of Manila and the Dioceses of Caloocan, Cubao, Pasig, Antipolo, and Malolos.

With Tropical Storm Helen entering and exiting Northern Luzon this week, there are more calamity victims who need our help. Let us do our share in helping those in need. We can make our donations through Caritas Manila:

For Donations in kind, please call Caritas Manila at telephone numbers 562-0020 up to 25 local 22 to 24.

For Cash Donations, you may deposit to:

Account Name: Caritas Manila, Inc.
Peso Bank Savings Account:
BPI S/A 3063-5357-01
BDO S/A 5600-45905
Metrobank S/A 175-3-17506954-3
UnionBank C/A 00-030-001227-5
Dollar Savings Account:
Account Name: Caritas Manila, Inc.
BPI Dollar Account: 003064-0033-55
PNB Dollar Account: 252-703687-1


Here Comes The Rain Again

rainy day

I woke up early this morning to the sound of pounding rain and howling winds. Scary.

Oh no, here comes the rain again. And again and again and again. It has been raining for about two weeks now, I think. The weather’s been crazy the past two weeks. Typhoon “Gener” (international code name: Saola) is now in northern Luzon, but there’s no typhoon signal over Metro Manila. So I don’t understand the heavy rains and strong winds. I read somewhere that it’s a storm surge or monsoon surge. Whatever that is. All I know is that I want this bad weather to stop. It has gone on for too long.

These are the scenes we see in the newscasts during the rainy season:

  • flooding and heavy traffic in Metro Manila
  • toppled trees, posts and billboards
  • stalled vehicles
  • flooding also in some provinces
  • landslides
  • ruined harvests
  • many displaced families
  • adults and children bravely walking through the floods to get to their destination
  • some lives lost
  • garbage everywhere

How sad that we now accept these scenes as “usual.” Ganyan naman lagi. (That’s the usual situation.)

But it wasn’t always like this. Talk to the oldies and they tell us that heavy flooding didn’t occur frequently before. Rains would come and go then, and they didn’t have to worry about being flooded for days. They didn’t worry about the possibility of not being able to go to work or school. It never occurred to them that they might not have a house after the rains.

Now, every time that we wake up to a morning of heavy rains, we have to make an effort to check the news for weather, traffic and school updates. Then we whine about the flooding, bitch about the traffic, and curse the rains. And blame someone else (usually the government) for all the mess that the rainy season brings.

Can we not do something to stop the floods?

Maybe we cannot stop the flooding entirely, but we can definitely help lessen the damage that the typhoon season brings. We can do this by taking care of the environment. Not just our immediate environment, or the place we live,  but the entire planet that we live in. Little things like recycling and waste segregation, if done properly by many more people, would create a huge impact. Government and businesses eliminating greed from their agenda would result to better management of resources.

While the rains sometimes bring anxiety in our lives, I’m still hopeful for a better place to live in my lifetime. When it rains and my head automatically starts to sing The Eurythmics’ “Here Comes The Rain Again:”

Here comes the rain again
Raining in my head like a tragedy…

I stop that tape and instead conjure Louis Armstrong as he sings:

I see skies of blue, and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

Pacquiao-Bradley Fight: When Winning Isn’t Everything

Pacquiao Bradley Fight June 2012

Pacquiao Bradley Fight June 2012 (photo from espn.go.com)

Manny Pacquiao lost the fight inside the boxing ring. This was according to two of the three judges who scored the fight in favor of Pacquiao’s opponent, Tim Bradley. The controversial split-decision win did not sit well with many people who watched at MGM Arena in Las Vegas or at their television screens. Traditional media and social media erupted with the opinions of almost everyone who viewed the fight. Many thought that Pacquiao dominated the fight, and that he should have retained his WBO Welterweight title.

A day or two after the fight, I see Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee being interviewed on Philippine television. Both were all smiles. The message that Pacquiao gives to his followers is that while he believes that he won the fight, he respects the judges’ decision. This despite loud whispers about a conspiracy theory written here and here, involving Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum. A rematch between the two fighters is scheduled sometime in November this year.

When Pacquiao was first reported to be holding bible study sessions while training in Baguio, I was skeptical. Just an image-building thing, I thought. But it was reported that he continued this practice even in the US. A few days before the fight, I saw him being interviewed by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. Warren said that Pacquiao was a bible-quoting maniac. In that short interview, Pacquiao spewed bible verses left and right. He stressed the need to match our words with deeds when it comes to our Christian belief.

And after watching that TV interview where he and his wife seemed very much relaxed, I believe that Pacquiao is serious in his transformation. His calm acceptance of the fight verdict, and his call to supporters to do the same shows this. Pacquiao shows his faith in action. He accepts that in life, you don’t always win. He may have lost this boxing match, but he knows that God has greater things in store for him.

Please share your thoughts / questions in the comment box below.

Stop Stealing Dreams of the Future Generation

stop stealing dreams

Seth Godin published a 30,000 word manifesto on education. Stop Stealing Dreams asks the difficult question, “What is school for?”

Godin argues that the school system that we have today was created in its time to produce compliant workers for the industrial revolution of the 1900s. We have a vastly different world right now and we don’t need workers for the factory system. We need to change the current educational system to respond to the needs of the present day information-driven economy that demands variety, not uniformity. Kids don’t need to memorize and get tested on data that is of practically no use in real life.

Some excerpts:

We can teach people to make commitments, to overcome fear, to deal transparently, to initiate and to plan a course.

We can teach people to desire lifelong learning, to express themselves, and to innovate.

Learning is not done to you. Learning is something you choose to do.

Reinventing school:

  • Open book, open  note, all the time
  • Access to any course anywhere in the world
  • Precise, focused instruction instead of mass, generalized instruction
  • Experience instead of test scores as a measure of achievement
  • Cooperation instead of isolation
  • Lifelong learning, earlier work


The dreams we need are self-reliant dreams. We need dreams based not on what is but on what might be.

The new job of school [is] … Not to hand a map to those willing to follow it, but to inculcate leadership and restlessnss into a new generation.

In the connection revolution… Value is created by connecting buyers to sellers, producers to consumers, and the passionate to each other.

In the connected world… scarcity is replaced by abundance— an abundance of information, networks and interactions.

The only people who excel are those who have decided to do so.

The essence of the connection revolution is that it rewards those who connect, stand out, and take what feels like a chance.

The future of the economy lies with the impatient… who will refuse to wait to be hired and will take things into their own hands, building their own value, producing outputs others will gladly pay for.

Dreams fade away because we can’t tolerate the short-term pain necessary to get to our long-term goal.

Leadership  is the most important trait for players in the connected revolution. Leadership involves initiative, and in the connected world, nothing happens until you step up and begin, until you start driving without a clear map.


What do you think of our schools today? Is there hope for our children’s future?

VSO Bahaginan Volunteering Expo

VSO Bahaginan Volunteering Expo

VSO-Bahaginan invites you to the Second Volunteering Expo of on March 13, 2012 at the Intercontinental Manila, Makati City. Entitled “Active Communities, Sustainable Future,” the Volunteering Expo will serve as a platform for celebrating and inspiring volunteerism in government, non-government, corporate, and academic sectors.

For more information, please click here to view the e-poster.

This post is re-blogged from BLOGGERS 4 CHANGE.