Sunday, August 26, 2012

Post-Monsoon Photos and Some Thoughts

Almost everybody knows what happened in Metro Manila last August 7 and 8, 2012. There was no typhoon but torrential rains ravaged the area. I read that 50% of Metro Manila was submerged in floodwater. That time, I was attending a short course on Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation (still in Metro Manila but in the elevated area of Quezon City). August 7 was scheduled for our site visits in Manila Bay, Malabon, Marikina and Bacolor, Pampanga. Naturally, we were not able to go that Tuesday but the disaster didn't all-together stop us.

Marikina, August 9, 2012 (Thursday). Weather: cloudy.

We went to Tumana Bridge. The river was still swollen but the water has gone down. The informal settlers living along the river were cleaning up. I also saw some children playing in the puddles.

from Tumana Bridge (notice the early warning device at the right)

Brgy. Tumana (photo from UP SURP)

from Riverbanks

Manila Bay, August 11, 2012 (Saturday). Weather: sunny.

After the Tagaytay excursion, we dropped by Manila Bay for a while. That day, there were lots of garbage around and it was quite smelly. One of my foreign co-participants asked me if that amount of garbage was normal. Unfortunately, I was not able to give an absolute answer because I do not go to Manila Bay normally but that was certainly a good question.

August 12, 2012. Malabon City (Sunday). Weather: sunny.

The streets were covered with LOTS of garbage. According to one of the engineers of Malabon City, these garbage are not solely theirs. Some of these garbage were just brought by the floodwater from other cities (with higher elevation).

A creek, also with lots of garbage.

See that mound of garbage? :(

Here, a portion of the riverwall collapsed. These riverwalls are part of the 5 billion-Peso CAMANAVA Flood Control Project; the completion of which has been delayed for five years. Until now, the project is not yet finished.

from Tonsuya Bridge

from Tonsuya Bridge

And finally, this is not part of the SC2012 site visits. Riding the bus, I took this photo last August 21, 2012. 

from Tullahan River

They say the Filipino spirit is resilient. But what does it mean to be resilient? Is it just the spirit that needs to be resilient? There's a monsoon that causes flooding, then the flood subsides, then everyone cleans up and then we simply go back to our usual lives and usual habits. Is that resilience? What if we get the same amount of rainfall again? It'll be another disaster.

From Climate Change Commissioner Naderev SaƱo's lecture: "Recovery is not about bringing back people to the same high-risk situation they were in before a disaster; it is about bouncing back and higher; it is about spreading hope."

And to me, "bouncing back and higher" means to create measures to reduce the risk so that when torrential rains or typhoons arrive again, it will no longer be a huge disaster. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mezza Norte: Take 3

I went to Mezza Norte again in Technohub last Friday. It's my third time so far and I see myself frequenting the place in the future because it's very close to school and I really want to try as much food as I can (little by little, of course)!

We went there early (6pm) so that we can get some seats.

I miss the blue sky!
That Friday, I bought a kimchi fried rice burrito (PhP90).

Bitten burrito ;_; I'm sorry I was so hungry!

Mango cheesecake (PhP85)!

Next time (next week? LOL) I will try the burgers and the red velvet cake!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eleven Awesome Days of Learning

It is finished.

Accepting my Certificate of Completion from Dr. Fujiwara of Hiroshima University

Eleven awesome days. It started last August 6, 2012, the Summer Course 2012 Development Within a Low-Carbon World: Preparing Professionals for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation. I can't decide if it's ironic or timely that the monsoon disaster happened right during the training. (Yes, it pushed through despite all that!) For one, it made things difficult for the organizers logistics-wise and for the participants because we couldn't gather data from the local government units or conduct interviews with busy/important people for our paper/presentation. But at the same time, the participants, especially those from other countries, got a real taste of disaster here in the Philippines.

Some lecturers had to cancel their attendance. However, I am seriously amazed by the lecturers who did not back down. One of the lecturers (who happens to be one of my favorites) from JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) was warned not to board his plane anymore last August 7, 2012 (the height of the monsoon rains) but he still went! And that's not the end of it... he waded through the floods just to get to a hotel!

Anyway, I'm really glad to be part of this Summer Course. I learned so much from the lectures (especially on Climate Change Adaptation and how it is related to Disaster Risk Management). I seriously miss listening to lecturers and asking them questions. I learned many things from my classmates who come from different countries and from different fields. It's great that we learn from each other: foreign language (Tagalog, Spanish, Japanese and German), culture, food, places and even religion. It was fun teaching them Tagalog especially when they can't get the accent right. I hope that they will never forget the words "bayad po" and "salamat po" (yes they take the UP Ikot jeep!) It was also fun watching them getting all excited or curious when they see fruits!

While waiting for the Closing Dinner last Thursday, Sir Harold and I invited some of them to take photos with the Oblation.

And importantly, I have new friends from all over the world! I believe that we'll still see each other someday. Some of my classmates were actually able to meet their Filipino friends from years ago during their recent stay. I asked them how they are able to keep in touch despite all those years and one of them answered "It's easy. Facebook."

It was a great experience. I can't even say it properly in words. I wish there were more short courses of this kind.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

All Things New

Can I just say how awesome this training is?

I seriously can't believe how, at some point, I wanted to back out from this because I really had SO MUCH in my hands! But now, I'm glad I didn't!

First, I'm learning a lot from the lectures. Imagine, the lectures are three hours long and yet I can keep my focus on most of them! 

Second, I'm learning so much from my [international] classmates. We come from different fields (not just engineering) and I think practically everyone is multi-lingual so it's fun teaching languages to each other and sharing experiences from different parts of the world. The learning experience is almost similar to traveling! Unlike competitions and conferences abroad, this training is a great venue to meet new friends because we really get to interact with each other. And everyone loves it! Sometimes, it gets difficult when we don't understand each other because of our accents but we get by.

Last Friday, I went to Mezza Norte with some of them. I made the Asians try balut (unfertilized/aborted duck egg) and then the Americans isaw haha. We had lots of food and then beer at Ral's. I really had fun with all the stories.

Yesterday (Saturday), we had a "field trip" of sorts to Tagaytay and Manila Bay. It was so reminiscent of kindergarten/grade school field trips but that's what makes it nostalgic plus it's a very different experience when you're having a field trip with people from different countries!

Now, I just got back from karaoke night with some of them and we enjoyed! It's funny that we come from different countries but we practically know the same songs.

There are only five days left for us to finish our reports and to interact. Sigh. We need to make the most of it.

PS: Not posting photos with their faces because they may not like it or something.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day One

Apparently, today marks the 67th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

Today, I had a great opportunity to learn with people from 11 different countries. The event is a cooperation between institutions in the Philippines, America and Japan. As one of the professors said, "The Philippines used to be the battleground of America and Japan during the war." But today, we were all sitting down and discussing climate change adaptation and disaster risk management. 

Today, I saw three people sitting together in one table: an African, an American, and a Japanese. I'd call their table the "panda table" because as the pun goes, "Don't be a racist. Be a panda. Pandas are black, white and Asian." I mean, come on. Who doesn't want to get rid of the racism in this world?

I am seriously stumped with a bunch of requirements (student responsibilities) and workload (instructor and researcher responsibilities) but I know that this is going to be worth it. It's just Day One and I've learned so much! There are nine more days!

Also, today, I had the chance to visit the Executive House (the official residence of the UP President). It's my first time to see the place after six years of staying in the university. Not everyone gets to be invited to the Executive House so I feel very lucky. The house was beautiful. It was amazing. It had beautiful, expensive paintings everywhere (most of them for sale).  My groupmate said "He has a museum inside his house!"

It had chandeliers made of capiz (shells). 

I have one prayer today, though. I hope the rain would stop or even just lessen. :( I'm safe and warm here in my room. However, I can't help wondering about people who are cold, people who are stranded in their workplace and people who are probably scared of floods reaching their homes and bothered by the fact that they'll have to leave their houses and go to evacuation centers that don't have enough food, water and medicine.