Sunday , June 24, 2018

Defying nature’s wrath

BAGANGA, Davao Oriental -- Not all is bleak in the recent calamity which hit Baganga, Davao Oriental that claimed some lives. Though most residents have been worried sick over the continuous rains that have caused flooding in many areas in Mindanao and seems to tease the disaster preparedness team, over 60 barangay functionaries from three barangays in the municipality were undergoing a counter-disaster planning or contingency disaster planning even as rains poured heavily.

“Ya lipay a gawa kona ya sayud sin-ing pagpangandam ng kanato kaugalingon asta komunidad paraluwas kita (I am so happy to know about how we can prepare as well as our community so we can be safe)," Barangay health worker Carmelita Cartagena, 68, said. She has served in the barangay for several years already and was visibly happy at the thought that this time they will not be “victims” of calamity anymore.

All of the participants of the planning sessions were able to attend the Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction Management (CBDM) conducted by a long-time partner of the local government, the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (Misfi), a non-government organization (NGO) that has been operating in Davao Oriental and elsewhere in Mindanao. Misfi’s program on Disaster Management Orientation and Disaster Preparedness Training is under the project Enhancing Capacities in Disaster Risk Reduction Management for More Resilient Peoples and Communities that is funded by Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.

Lupong Tagapamayapa chairman Mario Manguiob, who lost a son and another relative when Typhoon Pablo struck Baculin, related that a relative has remained missing along with many others who were swept by the strong tidal currents in the Pacific and perished during the storm.

Manguiob was elected by his fellow barangay functionaries as president of the newly-organized Baculin Disaster Preparedness Committee that is tasked to assume responsibility in the event that another disaster hit the barangay.

No longer unprepared

Meanwhile, in the middle of the CDP activity in Barangay Saoquigue, several kilometer away from Barangay Baculin, the attention of Barangay Tanod Lolito Luna, who was elected as president of Saoquigue Disaster Preparedness Committee, was called by the Municipal Disaster Risk Reducation Center (MDRRMC) after concerns were raised over the swelling of Baganga river where three puroks of Saoquigue are situated.

These same barangays of Magum, Magumay and Baybay are vulnerable to heavy flooding as pointed out by the participants on their drawn spot map where the resources and the hazards were identified by them.

It was coincidental that the participants were identifying the hazards in their barangay when heavy rains poured and some of them anxiously looked out into the dark skies, as if remembering that one traumatic episode in their lives in December 2013, they were ill-prepared to confront.

“Marlyn”, a BHW in Saoquigue who was able to attend the CBDM earlier the previous months, was still emotional and unable to hold back her tears when she recalled the harrowing experience of her family at the height of the howling storm Pablo.

She recalled that she was thinking that she and her children would perish in the middle of the night when all of their ceiling was blown away by the strong winds and they were all drenched to the skin and helplessly hugging each other.

The heavy flooding of late could not be compared to Typhoon Pablo that resulted to several thousands of lives lost not only in this part of Region 11 but in other province as well, yet, the residents could not ignore the incessant rains that later displaced hundreds of families in several regions in Mindanao.

Of the three barangays, Lambajon is the most advanced barangay in terms of trainings and drills attended by some of its personnel.

Likewise, it already has a Barangay Risk Reduction Management Center (BDRRMC) where prepositions are stored in preparation for disasters.

However, most of its functionaries also welcomed the CBDM training as it equipped them in community based approaches in preparing for calamities.

Welcoming the community-based training makes the functionaries of these barangay a step ahead than the rest in the municipality of Baganga as this will equip their communities the necessary knowhow in preparing themselves even before disaster strikes. There may be many obstacles along the way, still, the people of Baganga are learning fast.