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.


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.

Have a Break, Watch A Movie (Movie Review: Rio)

rio movie

Off I go to the movies, and I choose “Rio.”

Linda, the owner of a small bookshop in a small town in Minnesota, gets an unexpected visit from an ornithologist (a scientist who studies birds, or a bird freak, for short) named Tulio who is from Rio de Janeiro. Tulio convinces Linda to fly to Rio so that her pet companion Blu, an endangered male Macaw so domesticated he doesn’t know how to fly, would get to be with the only other remaining blue macaw in the world, Jewel, a freedom loving female bird who resents being kept inside the aviary.

A short time after arriving in Rio, Blu and Jewel are kidnapped by men involved in illegal animal trade. Although they bicker a lot, they somehow manage to break free from their locked cage. With the help of some other birds and one mean-looking non-feathered friend, Blu and Jewel must rely on each other and travel around Rio to escape their hunters while Linda and Tulio try to find them.

The plot is old and simple. Just a light action caper and a romance subplot with a lot of chasing going on. “Rio” does try to be relevant by presenting a real environmental concern which is animal smuggling. What gives life to an otherwise tired, formulaic movie is the visual and acoustic delight that is the Rio de Janeiro backdrop.

The trailer promises a colorful movie at least, and on that note, the movie doesn’t disappoint. The movie opens with a picturesque forest scene where birds of varying types, sizes and colors are singing while doing synchronized flying and dancing. The main story is conveniently set during Rio’s Carnival time, so fantastic floats and costumes add on to the kaleidoscope of colors and vibrant streetscape as pulsating samba music plays in the background.

I liked Jesse Eisenberg’s and Tracy Morgan’s voice work. Jesse as Blu wonderfully captures the perceived vulnerability of a domesticated bird who knows he is out of his element when he’s out of his comfortable Minnesota cage. Tracy as the mean-looking, disgusting bulldog Luiz is hilarious as always, providing the few laughs I had in the whole movie. Anne Hathaway as Jewel is fine, but she is typecast even in voice roles as the energetic, bright-eyed, singing female lead.

This is a light summer movie worth watching only if you want to just relax and have some mindless fun. Go see it with the kids. They always enjoy movies where there’s a lot of flying going on.