HOW does one handle disaster?
There are so many kinds to that. There could be personal ones where an individual may be into a certain ordeal. There also corporate in nature where an entity may undergo crisis – whether financial, public relations and even managerial.
The secret in handling disaster lies in one’s readiness to undergo such and to be resilient as well. To be pro-active, to say the least, especially for corporate entities like an LGU.
Take the case of Pampanga province. It has been hit by the worst volcanic eruption in history and the lahar flows that buried many of its barangays that followed.
Once in total state of destruction, desolation and perdition, the province has withstood the whammies. It has not only fully recovered but is now also a model for other provinces in facing disaster and mitigating their effects.
No less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has conferred a recognition to the Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction Council (PDRRMC) in the prestigious 20th National Gawad Kalasag Award recently. This, after being evaluated as the best in disaster risk reduction work in the entire country.
And Vice Governor Dennis "Delta" Pineda, co-chair of the PDRRMC, at the AFP Amphitheater is brimming with smiles during the conferment. Who would not be?
The award manifests not just an approval of what Pampanga is doing but is also a signal for other provinces to emulate the once lahar-ravaged former Philippine capital to rise back from calamities. No matter the magnitude. No matter the hardships.
The recognition stemmed from a decision by a national selection committee from member-agencies of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chaired by the Office of Civil Defense. It is a result of series of stringent evaluation of the PDRRMC'S systems and programs that was developed from one of the world's worst disasters, Mt. Pinatubo's 1991 eruptions and lahar flows.
Aside from Vice Governor Pineda, behind this prestige is a hardworking person that made all this possible – PDRRMC Action Officer Angie Blanco. While indeed VG Pineda deserves the accolade, you may also take a bow there mam.
After all, as you have said the PDRRMC “stood out for its best practices in empowering communities and the private sector to be alert, prepared and safe from disaster.”
The PDRRMC won the regional Gawad Kalasag regional Hall of Fame for five consecutive years. In 2016, the PDRRMC landed second in the 18th National Gawad Kalasag.
"The National Gawad Kalasag Award recognizes the leadership of the PDRRMC headed by the chairperson, Governor Lilia Pineda, and vice chairperson, Vice Governor Dennis Pineda, in the council's programs and projects that try to reduce the risks posed on people by natural hazards such as flooding, storm surges, landslides and earthquakes," Blanco said.
"Through the PDRRMC, we also see the cooperation of the provincial government, public agencies, private organizations, non-government organizations and civil society groups," she added.
"Gusto ko ligtas tayo lagi sa kalamidad at sakuna," is Vice Governor Pineda's constant motto. He has championed the construction of a provincial command center that is linked to coastal and inland communities to make disaster responses quicker.
Breakthroughs. The PDRRMC pioneered in Central Luzon the construction and establishment of three three-storey permanent evacuation centers in Barangay San Isidro in Magalang town, Barangay Concepcion in Lubao town, and Barangay Sta. Maria in Mexico town
It began land banking by buying 10.7 hectares in Barangay San Roque in Mexico town, 5 hectares in San Isidro in Magalang town, 42 hectares in Sta. Catalina in Lubao and 10 hectares in Telapayong in Arayat town (under usufract contract with the National Housing Authority) as relocation site sand possibly a trading post for the agriculture sector.
Through colored stickers, it tagged houses in remote coastal villages to be able to prioritize the rescue of elderly (orange), persons with disabilities and ailments (red) and children (yellow).
It has organized a wide network for information dissemination in disaster preparedness, mobilizing 550 public school teachers and 9,760 Nanay (mothers) community volunteers who assist village leaders.
It is well-equipped for rescue missions and medical emergencies. It has also five backhoes on barge that deepen creeks and rivers year-round. It has trucks capable of delivering fuel and water.
It has forged partnerships with the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Red Cross, Pampanga Association of Water Districts, Pampanga Truckers Association, Pampanga Youth Association, Center for Emergency Aid and Rehabilitation Inc. (Concern), Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction Network and Association of Health Workers.
After doing humanitarian assistance in Tacloban and Samar that bore the wrath of Super Typhoon "Yolanda" in November 2013, the Pampanga PDRRMC made rescue and relief missions to flood victims of Typhoon "Lando" in Nueva Ecija in October 2015, Bataan and Olongapo City in 2019.
It conducts training and drills in evacuation and evacuation management. It leads mangroves planting in coastal communities in order to create a natural belt against storm surges from Manila Bay.