May 22, 2024

In the aftermath of Typhoon Egay, it would take time before thousands of families and individuals in the Cordillera affected by the typhoon could get back on their feet while communities mourn the death of 10 individuals due to landslides and drowning in the swollen rivers.
Over the years, fatal landslides have claimed countless lives and damaged properties such as in Buguias, Benguet where four family members perished while a high school student in Baguio also died when a landslide hit their house at the height of Typhoon Egay.
As we went to the press Friday night, search and rescue operation is ongoing for six individuals believed to have been buried in their homes in Calanasan, Apayao where the government was hard up in deploying the team, as the area is not accessible by road.
While the efforts of the various local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils and volunteers are admirable during search, rescue, and retrieval operations at the height of typhoons, we are still lacking in terms of proactive responses to landslides and flashfloods.
The Department of Science and Technology has acknowledged that landslides are a common natural calamity in the Cordillera due to its topography as a mountain region, as well as yearly receiving the highest rainfall in the country.
As a response, there were installations of early warning devices in the past to guide the public. But these devices were left for the information of local government units, but not downloaded to the grassroots that needed this critical information the most.
Last year, the DOST, in partnership with the academe in the region, has launched its study on understanding landslides in the Baguio City-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (Blistt) area. The study was said to gather data on the extent of landslides where it occurs, frequency of occurrence, and also identify the ground conditions in these areas.
The results of scientific studies like these should be properly turned over to the LGUs, and the data used to introduce landslide rehabilitation measures, especially in the vulnerable areas.
The data should also be taken seriously, because lives are always at stake whenever typhoons pass by the region.
It’s time to put into action these studies and put these data into good use and not to wait for another unfortunate landslide to occur in our region.
During the State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., he mentioned about the “painful lessons from past disasters”, which means we need to reorganize our response teams to make them more adaptable, agile and effective in times of calamities and crises, with a clear unity of command.
The latest typhoon must serve as a stark reminder of the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events due to climate change.
As we witness the profound implications of climate change, communities must take proactive steps towards mitigating risks and promoting ecological balance. Embracing eco-friendly practices, reforestation initiatives, and better waste management are crucial steps to building resilience against future natural disasters.
As we have pointed out in the past, community resilience is not merely the ability to bounce back after a crisis; it is the capacity to adapt, learn, and grow stronger in the face of adversity.
As Typhoon Egay exited the country’s area of responsibility on July 27, another tropical depression is expected this weekend and may intensify into a typhoon.
Still, we are thankful that the effect of Typhoon Egay is not that destructive compared to previous super typhoons that battered the country.
As always, we as a people, especially those affected in the north, are resilient enough to repair and rebuild what was lost to Typhoon Egay and other typhoons to come.