Wedding Industry Expect Php1B Growth
Event planning and management in marriages and weddings is growing business in this country and is expected to go global soon.
Players in this business call this the wedding industry and they expect this to grow to over Php1Billion in the short term.
The Philippine Association of Wedding Planners (PWAP) is helping the tourism industry, promoting tourism destinations, the PWAP leadership said.
Cost of weddings in the country go from Php500,000 to Php1 Million, PWAP president Liza Alviedo said.
Their entry to the global market is deliberate but slow, Alviedo said, adding that PWAP is joining trade fairs and expositions. Their first stop is in the Singapore at the Philippine Wedding Expo, a part of its global roadshows.
PWAP has established partnerships with upstart events companies for wedding expo in Singapore because of their shared vision of promoting the country’s wedding industry in the international market.
PWAP expect to sign up at least 150 contracts in the Singapore expo.
The association is supporting the Department of Tourism effort to promote the Philippines as the preferred wedding destination in the world even when its local market is reported have over 2,000 wedding events monthly.
The business in weddings could contribute to more economic activities. It has downstream business, especially inhiring of caterers, florists, musicians, photographers.
In a country where millions of its citizens are suffering economic difficulties, this report from the PWAP shows relief that solemnizing marriages continue to flourish and enjoy wide support.
The numbers pointed out by the PWAP cover only those who can afford their services. Multiply it a hundred fold and that’s the number of weddings all over this Christian country every month.
LIES AND DECEIT
By Al Labita
NOTHING to crow about the Aquino government’s self-serving claim that under its watch, the economy has expanded at a rate faster than what its officials could imagine.
Reckoned with realities, however, the growth only perpetuated the perennial rich-poor gap, one of the world’s worst, despite Aquino’s much-ballyhooed reform agenda.
While statistics only tell half a story, they nonetheless betray the painful truths lurking behind a façade of lies and deceit.
The inclusive growth Aquino has been harping on has been largely inclusive only among the few moneyed elite to the exclusion of the vast majority – the poor.
As the economy grows, it also exponentially drives up the wealth of those in command and control of the lives of Filipinos.
The figures are grim — only 40 families such as the Ayalas, Sys and Tans account for nearly 80 percent of the economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), an OpinYon’s research shows.
In stark contrast, some Asian neighbors had managed to whittle down the rich-poor ratio as they gained headway in democratizing their economy over the past decades.
In Thailand, the same number of families account for only 33.7 per cent of the economy and in Malaysia, 5.6 per cent, indicating how the Philippines has lagged behind in addressing the urgency to spread out the nation’s wealth.
Ironically, the glaring disparity vis-à-vis sharing a nation’s wealth explains why the Philippines has more billionaires (in US dollar) than in more prosperous Thailand and Malaysia.
GDP and PPP
They are the same people who take advantage of lucrative contracts, including profit guarantees and tariff increases, under the government’s Public-Private Partnership program (PPP), Aquino’s centerpiece in pushing infrastructure projects.
“The regime has consistently favored the few billionaires while further marginalizing the poor. Aquino now wants to enrich them even more by giving them various perks for the PPP projects,” says the militant Bayan Muna in a statement.
Based on the account of US-based magazine Forbes, the combined net worth of the Philippines’ 50 richest totaled US$65.8 billion in 2012, more than a quarter of the nation’s GDP.
Mostly of Chinese origin, these families own companies which have grown—aided largely by generous government incentives—to become conglomerates with shares traded on the Philippine Stock Exchange and in some cases offshore, notably in cash-rich Hong Kong and Singapore.
Millionaires to Billionaires
Their vast and diverse corporate tentacles extend far and wide, catering to the lives of Filipinos, literally from womb to tomb, leaving them with no choice but to enslave themselves under the weight of an oppressive western-style economic system.
As shown in the list of Singapore-based UBS Billionaires Census 2013, the Philippines ranked 9th in Asia, with 13 billionaires with a combined net worth of US$35 billion.
In 10th place was Malaysia with 10 billionaires worth a combined US$37 billion, while Thailand ranked 11th with 10 billionaires worth US$25 billion.
As usual, ethnic Chinese taipans Henry Sy and Lucio Tan topped the list of the Philippines’ mega rich whose ranks had swelled as more of their kind continued to amass wealth at the expense of those marginalized by the government’s pro-rich, anti-poor economic policies.
Sy, who operates shopping malls, saw his assets surge 44 percent to US$7.2 billion in 2012 alone and remains the Philippines’ richest man.
According to the Forbes 2012 annual rich list, Sy and Tan whose businesses range from retail to property and other related ventures were worth a combined US$13.6 billion, equivalent to six per cent of the Philippine economy.
While GDP has undoubtedly risen over the past years, every Filipino’s share of it is unfortunately the lowest among Asean countries.
Based on the latest data of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the Philippines’ per capita GDP) stood at only US$4,339 in 2012 compared with Singapore, $61,461; – Malaysia, $16,976; Thailand, $9,609; and – Indonesia. $4,971.
GDP is the amount of goods and services produced, while per capita is derived from dividing the population in relation to GDP.
While seemingly doubtful, the NSCB data hardly reconcile with Aquino government’s oft-repeated claims that GDP last year expanded by 6.8 percent and even bragged that it outpaced Singapore’s 1.3 percent, Malaysia’s 5.6 percent, Thailand’s 6.5 percent and Indonesia’s 6.2 percent.
Yet, the Philippines’ per capital GDP has been the lowest–and slowest—among its peer group since 2005 despite official claims that it is Asia’s fastest-growing economy.
In what could be an indicator of the country’s ever-widening rich-poor gap, NSCB data also showed that high-income households accounted for more than half, or 60 percent, of the GDP.
The balance of 40 percent of the economy’s income was shared by the bulk, or about 84 percent, of the country’s population.
To be poor meant earning less than 16,800 pesos a year or P1, 400 a month or P47 pesos a day which covers 26.5 per cent of the nearly 100 million Filipinos.
As gleaned from the official poverty data of NSCB, the proportion of poor Filipinos to the total population has been surging from 24.9 per cent in 2003 to 26.4 per cent in 2006, and 26.5 per cent in 2009, an issue Aquino promised to address under his “Daang Matuwid” program of government.
The Philippines has one of the highest poverty rates among emerging Asian economies. The poverty incidence stood at 27.9 percent as of the first semester of 2012, almost unchanged from the 28.6 percent in 2009.
Aware of the magnitude of the problem, the government wants to bring down poverty incidence to 16.6 percent by 2015, an ambitious target difficult to achieve as the rich get richer and the poor poorer, given the economy’s bias for the affluent and the powerful.
In more ways than one, the economy is basically lopsided in structure allowing the oligarchs to gain too much control of the country’s resources and creating one of the worst income inequalities in Asia.
One wonders whatever happened to Aquino’s oft-repeated term “inclusive growth” which seeks to create jobs and reduce poverty by spreading the economy’s gains to trickle down to lower-income segments of society.
More importantly, the rich-poor disparity also draws attention to Aquino’s anti-poverty conditional cash transfer program which has a budget of more than P40 billion this year.
Capitalist vs. Socialist System
The program seeks to see 15 million of the nation’s poorest people receive money directly in exchange for their kids going to school and mothers and children getting proper healthcare.
In releasing its data, NSCB risked incurring anew the ire of Aquino who once bawled out the agency’s officials for portraying the economy in bad light contrary to his government’s rosy picture.
Sign of compassion for the disadvantaged sector of society may be gleaned from how the tycoons responded to the clamor for aid of the hapless typhoon victims in the Eastern Visayas region.
While some, particularly Sy and Tan, handed out P100 million each, others were hardly in the news, apparently opting to work behind the scene with less fanfare.
Billionaire port king Enrique Razon deployed heavy equipment to repair the damaged piers in Tacloban city and Leyte, while the Ayalas and banker George Ty chipped in P10 million and P50 million, respectively, worth of relief supplies.
The cost of putting the typhoon-ravaged Eastern Visayas region back on its feet amounts to a whopping P250 billion, a window of opportunity for the tycoons to share their wealth with those they derived their profits from.
Overall, while there is evidence of progress in addressing the yawning rich-poor gap, it is too slow. One study says it would take dozens of decade for the bottom millions of the nation’s population to achieve 10 per cent of the national income under the current rate of change.
Similarly, it raises questions about the Philippines’ pro-capitalist economic model vis-à-vis the egalitarian-oriented socialist type.
- Philippines’ Aquino Races the World’s Fastest Economies – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- PH poverty almost unchanged since 2006 (rappler.com)
- After Typhoon Recovery, Philippines Needs Jobs – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- The Grim Reality Behind the Philippines’ Economic Growth – Jillian Keenan – The Atlantic (theatlantic.com)
- Country slow to reduce poverty despite dramatic growth (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Divided Filipinos (ireport.cnn.com)
- The Philippine Economy in the Aftermath of Haiyan (live.wsj.com)
- GILLES GARACHON : Promoting French Tourism in the PH (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Philippines Has More to Fix Than Typhoon Damage – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Government: Poverty reduction slow, threatens MDGs (businessmirror.com.ph)
ONLY modest reductions in poverty have been made since the economic and political collapse of the mid-1980s. Without doubt, severe regional disparities remain and the gap between the rich and the poor of this country continues to widen. While 75 percent poor Filipinos live in rural areas, the urban poor have contributed to the rising share of total poor population since 1971. Manila, once the bustling center of post-war business activity, is no longer the promised land it used to be. Migrating to the city is no longer a guarantee of a better life.
By World Bank calculations, urban poverty stood at around 23 percent and rural poverty at 53 percent in 1991. The numbers are far worse today. Most of our poor have little education and are engaged in the agriculture, fishery and forestry sectors and anemic government support have driven our farmers and fisher folk to the brink of poverty.
Compared with the rest of East Asia, government performance on poverty reduction has been downright disappointing, because the Philippines has not been able to sustain growth long enough to better the living conditions of the poor.
Stranger even is the fact that poverty declines remained modest even during the times of rapid economic growth as government policies discriminated against labor, subsidized capital-intensive production and gave low priority to agriculture and exports. This resulted in growth that was narrowly based and inequitable—trapping many Filipinos in low-paying jobs while capitalists made money out of labor’s misery.
The rich get richer while the poor stay poor—and multiply. If you look closely, the rich in this country bear the same face with politicians and government executives. People who run big business are—more often than not—related to someone in government. “Kamag-anak Inc.” never really left the building. The same evils hounding our society back in the 70s remain with us today.
There is no quick fix and panacea for everything that bedevils this nation. But getting rid of crooks in government and in big business is definitely a good place to start.
- PH poverty almost unchanged since 2006 (rappler.com)
- Five reasons why Filipinos blame Noynoy Aquino for everything (kensanph.wordpress.com)
- PNoy: Figurehead or Changemaker President? (Part 2/2) (fairobserver.com)
- Argumentative Essay (resurreccionpia.wordpress.com)
- When the definition of poverty harms the poor (thehindu.com)
- Iii. Argumentative Essay (resurreccionpia.wordpress.com)
- Who is to blame for poverty? (libertychurchbp.wordpress.com)
- Religious leaders propose ‘dreaming’ to escape poverty (sott.net)
- The Final Resolution Paper (aceyoon97.wordpress.com)
- US comes to the aid of Yolanda survivors (rappler.com)
GILLES GARACHON : Promoting French Tourism in the PH
FROM being an unknown destination, the Philippines is slowly becoming a favorite destination for the French. And part of the growing interest in the Philippines is a result of the efforts made by French Ambassador to the Philippines Gilles Garachon.
Tour of Duty
Serving in Manila since 2012, Garachon has almost 27 years experience in the diplomatic service, having started his career in this field in 1985. Garachon is no stranger to Asia as he was named first secretary at the French embassy in New Delhi in 1989 and later became the consul of France in Hong Kong in 1993.
He served as his country’s political counselor in Bangkok (1999–2003) and as cultural counselor in Jakarta (2003–2007). Before his present assignment, he headed the human resources department of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While based here in Manila, Ambassador Garachon will concurrently serve as France’s non-resident ambassador to Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. He succeeded former French envoy to the Philippines, Thierry Borja de Mozata.
Since taking the Philippine post, Garachon said French awareness of the Philippines has been increasing steadily because of aggressive cultural, political and academic exchanges between the two countries. “There is a momentum. And I think we have to keep this momentum. This is going to increase, I’m sure. There is plenty of room to increase the relations—of course—there is cultural relations, but also in the field of trade, in the field of politics, also the exchange of students between universities,” Garachon said in a newspaper interview during the French Embassy’s celebration of Bastille Day at his Makati City residence last July 14.
Embassy data showed French tourist arrivals in the Philippines increased by 14 percent from 29,591 in 2011 to 33,709 in 2012.
Garachon said promoting the Philippines in France was his “main difficulty” as an ambassador, as most French knew only nations that figured in their history.
“French people… see the geography very linked to history. And if a country has historical links with France, then it appears on the map. But for the Philippines, we never had any historical connection. Not at all. So for French people, the Philippines is just a question mark,” Garachon said.
“So part of my job and part of the job of the ambassador of the Philippines in Paris is to make French people discover more about the Philippines,” Garachon, who had been posted to Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bangkok before being assigned to Manila, said.
To boost its image in France the Philippines hosted a three-month exhibit of pre-colonial art at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris from April to July. “I think this exhibit is a great occasion. [All over] Paris, you had a signboard about this exhibit about the Philippines, with beautiful pictures,” Garachon said.
“People loved it and because they were discovering something completely new. In France, nobody knows about the art of the Philippines. And so they discovered it and they enjoyed it very much,” he said.
The exhibit brings together Philippine pre-colonial art and artifacts from collections in the Philippines, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and the United States.
It is the largest exhibit of Philippine art in Europe, according to the French Embassy in Manila.
History of Relations
History tells us that the relations between the Philippines and France go beyond 60 years. A French consulate was established in Manila in the late 19th century, during the time when the Philippines was still a colony of Spain.
When the Spanish expedition under Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines, 15 Frenchmen were among its crew. This includes Jean Petit of Angers, lieutenant of Trinidad and Bernard Calmette, chaplain of San Antonio.
French missionaries also contributed to the spread of Christianity in the Philippines. The first Diocesan seminary in the Philippines, the seminary of St. Clement in Manila, was set up with the aid of French Monsignor Charles-Thomas Maillard de Tournon in 1704.
French traders, technicians, soldiers, and officers and crews under the Manila Galleon trade also came to the Philippines. The French recognized the potentials of the Philippines in the trading sector by the 17th century. France discovered the potential use of abaca in the manufacture of naval supplies, particularly ropes. Despite the Spanish colonial government’s restrictions against foreign trade, French and other foreign traders were already in Manila before it was formally opened for foreign trade.
France became the first country to establish a consul in Spanish Philippines, followed by Belgium, the United States and finally Great Britain in November 1844. France established its consul in Manila in March 1824.
Diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines was officially established on June 26, 1947 with the signing of the Treaty of Amity. The short-lived First Philippine Republic had a diplomatic representative in Paris in 1898 when the United States and Spain were negotiating the terms for peace in what has come down in history as the Treaty of Paris.
French travel accounts of the Philippines in the 18th and 19th centuries help Filipino historians recreate the past. These publications are illustrated with charming photographs and engravings that provide a visual link to the Spanish Philippines.
In a historic visit to the Philippines last October French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with President Benigno Aquino III and discussed ways to enhance the two countries’ political, economic and cultural relations.
Ayrault was accompanied by a 130-member delegation composed of ministers, parliamentarians and businessmen. The visit, founded on the theme, “Enhancing Philippine-French Relations Through Political, Economic and Cultural Cooperation” is intended to renew bilateral ties between the Philippines and France and propel the countries economic partnerships to greater heights.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), bilateral trade between the the Philippines and France amounted to U$1.143 billion in 2011 as French investments in the Philippines reflected a “significant increase” with total approved investments of PhP1.145 billion, up 90 percent compared to 2010.
The DFA said that French companies such as LaFarge, Total, AXA and Alcatel “have strong presence in the country and have committed to increase their investments in the coming years.”
Leading French companies like RATP Dev and Thales have also expressed their interest to participate in the bidding for flagship projects under the country’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.
The Philippines and France are expected to be sign contracts in various various sectors such as energy, aviation and aeronautics, transportation, infrastructures, electronics, healthcare and environment in the next few years.
France has been supportive of Aquino administration’s development priorities particularly in the areas of “climate change, green infrastructures, sustainable urban development and services including transport, water supply and sanitation, agro-forestry and biodiversity protection, and capacity building for local government units.”
Both countries also enjoy a strong people-to-people exchange as there are 50,000 Filipinos in France and about 4,000 French nationals living in the Philippines.
Most Filipinos in France are engaged in the services sector and skilled professionals. In 2011, Filipinos in France remitted a total of $51.3 million.
- FDCP Chairman Briccio Santos knighted by France (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Justin Bieber arrives in Manila, to visit Yolanda areas (rappler.com)
- Norwegian Ambassador Knut Solem (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- ‘Metro Manila’ wins BIFA Best indie film (rappler.com)
- Bieber arrives in Philippines to help typhoon victims (nzherald.co.nz)
- Visa-free: Myanmar opens up to PH tourists (rappler.com)
- Bieber in Manila, gives back to ‘Yolanda’ victims (entertainment.inquirer.net)
- New US Ambassador to Philippines Pushes for US Troop Rotation Agreement (voanews.com)
- Justin Bieber arrives in Philippines as he raises funds for Typhoon Haiyan victims (imarashed.com)
- Philippines bans worker deployment to Yemen (dailystar.com.lb)
LYDIA DE ROCA : From Sidewalk Peddler to Millionaire
LYDIA’S Lechon is a household name here in the Philippines, But not many people know that its entrepreneur Lydia de Roca started her business by selling lechon in a small stall in Baclaran market.
In the late 60s, the family-owned lechon store—known as “Mang Turing and Aling Ingga’s Native Lechon”, was doing good business with a modest store located at the Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Baclaran. Lydia, helped out in the said store.
In 1969, after some courtship, Benigno de Roca (a son of another lechon business owner) and Lydia got married. The happy couple had a joyous occasion after their wedding and with PhP500 started their own lechon busiess–Lydia’s Lechon. In a television interview, Lydia related how she used to go with her father, who was a butcher, and how she started selling lechon in Baclaran at the age of 12. “Ito ang naituro sa akin ng tatay ko noong araw, hanggang sa nagtinda ako ng lechon. Twelve years old ako sa bangketa ng Baclaran,” she said. “Yung P500 na yon binibigay ko na sa tatay ko. Pinambili ko na ng baboy niya… Marami yun, P20 lang nun ang baboy eh,” she said. Aside from pigs, she used the money to buy charcoal and sauce for the lechon.
At that time, Benigno was a jeepney and bus driver, so they had to work hard to support their children. “Mahirap ang buhay namin. Pero nagtiyaga kami talaga. Pinagsumikapan namin… Naranasan ko pa yung bahay na nakatuntong sa ilog… Yun ang unang-unang inupahan ko, diyan sa may Tambo sa Paranaque, P35 ang upa sa isang buwan,” she said. Customer’s would flock to Lydia’s Lechon to sample the good food sold there. A big break for the couple’s business came along when one day when executives from the Hyatt Regency Hotel came along to buy some Lydia’s Lechon specialties. From that simple visit came daily lechon orders from the hotel.
“Maski nga di ko kinakaya kinakaya ko eh. Hindi pwedeng mahina ang loob mo. Sasabihin mo, ay ano kaya ang gagawin ko? Tatanggapin ko kaya? Mahirap kaya ito? Kaya ko kaya ito? Ako palaging yes,” she said.
The fame and praise for Lydia’s Lechon spread by word of mouth to many prospective clients, including other hotels and restaurants, and food caterers.
In the 1970′s, the Lydia’s Lechon boneless with paella recipe got the first prize in a competition for local chefs and it soon became one of the specialties of restaurant. It was a boost for the de Roca couple’s business.
After selling lechon from the market for 22 years, de Roca finally opened a restaurant–with a single table–along Roxas Boulevard in 1986.
“Talagang restaurant ang target ko. Kaya lang wala akong kapital pa eh. Hindi ko rin magagawang restaurant. Pero trying hard ako na maging restaurant, kaya naglagay ako ng isang lamesa at isang silya,” she recounted. Soon customers started coming to her restaurant and one of her frequent customers was mall tycoon Henry Sy, Sr., who always had lunch there on Sundays. “Nagkakwentuhan kami tapos meron daw siyang SM Food Court baka raw gusto kong magtayo ng ano… Sabi ko, oho gusto ko,” she said.
In April of 1989 the first branch of Lydia’s Lechon outside of the southern part of Metro Manila , in Timog Avenue, Quezon City was established. This was followed by other stores on the eastern part of the Metro. From there, fast food outlets of Lydia’s Lechon mushroomed within the popular malls of the metropolis. Although originally intended to be a close family corporation, the first franchise of Lydia’s Lechon was sold in 2005 for a fast food and retail outlet at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City. Today, they are known as the biggest chain of lechon outlets in the country. Presently, there are 21 branches of Lydia’s Lechon located in the Greater Manila area and Cavite.
Now, Lydia’s Lechon has some 15 branches in SM Food Courts, which account for some Php30,000 in daily sales.
The couple is now the proud owner of a 1,500 square-meter property in Baclaran, with a mansion and several luxury cars. It also houses the restaurant’s commissary and roasting area.
The De Roca couple also have their own piggery in an 8-hectare property in Malvar, Batangas where they raise 800-1,000 pigs.
In 2011, De Roca was awarded by Go Negosyo as one of the most outstanding women entrepreneurs of the Philippines.
Despite her success, De Roca remains humble and thankful that her four children—who have all graduated from college—are not spoiled and have helped the business flourish.
“Seven years old pa lang sila dinadala ko sila sa bangketa, kaya ang pangaral ko sa kanila eh sinusunod naman nila ngayon,” she said.
Up to now, De Roca still wields a knife and deftly chops up a lechon at the restaurant.
“Dito nag-simula ang swerte ko sa buhay. Kung sa tingin mo di ako marunong mag-tadtad ng lechon, umasenso kaya ako,” she said.
The smallest lechon sells for PhP6,500, and the capital for each one is in the neighborhood of PhP3,000. Lydia’s Lechon is also famous for its signature sauce made using a special recipe, de Roca said, noting this is still something none of her employees know about. Lydia has kept her lechon naturally simple but with no short cuts. It’s slowly cooked for two hours over charcoal and flavored only with tanglad, pandan, and murang sibuyas.
- EDUARDO and TESS NGAN TIAN: Entrepreneurs of ‘Pinoy Pizza’ (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Lechon Kawali Recipe (pinoycook.wordpress.com)
- Elar’s Lechon (151 Quezon Ave. cor Speaker Perez St. Doña Imelda, Quezon City) (happyfoodtrippers.wordpress.com)
- Vos Brandy heirs ‘at war’ (businessmirror.com.ph)
- Christmas and New Year in Boracay Island (boracaypalawanhotels.wordpress.com)
- Lechon Kawali (angsarap.net)
- Surviving Christmas without “Guilt” (baronmethod.wordpress.com)
- Pigging Satisfaction Guaranteed |kuya J Restaurant | Review [photos] (onesettingatatime.wordpress.com)
- The End of the World at Portugal’s Roca Cape (anamericangirlintransit.com)
- Lechon Baboy Recipe (pinoycook.wordpress.com)
In Defense of Small Businesses
by Ike Señeres
AS WE see vivid images of super typhoons devastating our islands, we should also be reminded of the very strong economic storms that are already hitting our country every day now, causing daily damage that could cost more than a series of storms and earthquakes could possibly cause. As we talk about the apparent lack of preparations to address these natural disasters, we should also be reminded that we are not prepared for these economic storms either, with practically none of the so called “safety nets” in place.
It is a good thing that natural storms could be forecasted. Economic storms on the other hand do not need any forecasts, because these are certain to come, and in fact they already have. As we speak, local products are being clobbered in the local markets, and scores of small businesses and small factories have already closed. The damage is already being felt, even before the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) is fully in place by 2015, and even before all the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements will be fully implemented.
One way or the other, the natural storms that are coming to our shores would have something to do with climate change and global warming, even if it could be argued that storms would naturally happen even without these two factors. That said however, regardless of what side of the argument you are with, there is no argument that the effects of climate change and global warming would definitely affect small businesses and small factories, as it has already happened in many cases. When we say small businesses, it should already include the business of farmers and fishermen.
I remember that when the issue of “safety nets” was discussed many years ago, there was a consensus that the government should not count all projects that all the projects that are in the normal course of public services delivery. What that means is that the government should come up with new and original “safety nets” that would be on top of, and different from what are normally provided by them. At that time, nobody really knew what that meant, and that is still the case now.
In the lack of understanding what “safety nets” would really mean, I would instead define it to mean anything and everything that would make a local product survive the onslaught of foreign products. Actually it should not be limited to plain and simple survival alone, because it should objectively mean success in the local and foreign markets, defined in terms of gross sales and market shares. I will add to that the fact that this boils down to product competitiveness. If that sounds to you like a sink or swim scenario, you are right, because that is what it really is, and much more than that, it is actually a life or death situation.
By comparison, I would say that dealing with a natural storm is easier than dealing with an economic storm. On the part of many local politicians, that could be as simple as delivering a few relief goods and taking lots of pictures. There is really no need for a closure, because the actions would end as soon as the evacuation centers are vacated, and that is it. In the case of economic storms however, the first line of casualties are not people, so there is really no rush for dramatic photo opportunities.
In the case of economic storms, the local products in the local markets are the first to die, and their deaths would ultimately result in the death of the factories, being the second line of defense. It could be said that the third line of defense would be among the ranks of the workers who would lose their incomes as their jobs would also die. Complicated as the sequence would appear to be, the cause of it all is the death of local products, and that is where we should fight back first, to make our products more competitive, so that these could stand up strongly to the foreign invaders and win the fights too.
Making products more competitive is a no brainer, because there is a science behind that. As a matter of fact, many big local companies have already perfected that science, and many of their products are now doing very well in the local and global markets. The rules of the marketing game are very clear. Aside from having a good product, what are needed are good product positioning, good branding, good labelling, good packaging and good advertising. There is no way out of these rules, because companies would have to play the game or die.
Again by comparison, the big companies could very well stand up on their own, and would therefore not need any help from the government. Obviously, the only ones that would need help from the government are the small businesses and the small factories. This is not really a new discovery, because we have known this all along. For so many years now, we have also heard many government agencies reporting that they are implementing programs along this line, but nothing seems to stick, and we are not seeing local products winning in the local and global markets.
The lack of financing is often said to be the cause of local product failure. That could be true, but in reality, any product doing well in the market should not have any problem in getting investors. And if the product is really doing well, the cash flow would be good too, and the only need for more financing would be for expansion purposes. We should really aspire to produce more local products that are global winners. Otherwise, we will just be a consumer economy, found at the lower end of the value chain, with no value added of our own.
For feedback, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text +639083159262
- Op-Ed Contributor: The Truth About Tornadoes (nytimes.com)
- Meteorologists Warn of a Future Rife with More Haiyan-Strength Storms (inhabitat.com)
- UN Climate Summit Rejects Its Own Science – Links Typhoon Haiyan to Global Warming – UN Summit Degenerates Into Unscientific Claims to Advance Political Agenda – Climate Depot Special Report (climatedepot.com)
- The Conscious Consumer Goes Mainstream (thehartford.com)
- Scientists reject Typhoon Haiyan link to man-made global warming: Storm expert Brian McNoldy of U. of Miami: ‘We don’t get to pick and choose which storms are enhanced by a warmer climate and which ones aren’t’ (climatedepot.com)
- AFTA gab slated in Bukidnon (mindanews.com)
- Extreme Weather Part II: Extreme Weather Is On The Horizon (thehartford.com)
- Climate Change: It’s Now or Never (jamiesoule.wordpress.com)
- Typhoon Haiyan exposes different perspectives on a warming planet (abc.net.au)
- Yolanda: Disaster, devastation and hope. (melisalerue.com)
In the Midst of Tragedy
by Herman Tiu-Laurel
IN the midst of the tragedy of the 6th category mediocrity and incompetence that is BS Aquino and his government team the volunteerism of many Filipinos gave hope.
Taipan Millan, a young citizen with a group of his peers mobilized members of civic and business groups like the Rotary Club of Caloocan and companies like Frabelle Fishing Corporation to ship food and relief goods to various parts of Leyte and Samar that were not being reached by the mainstream foreign and government relief operations getting clogged up on the roads and airports.
Fishing vessels Chrysanthemum and Brilliant Star leaves Sangley for Tacloban while Woodrose from Navotas goes to Ormoc, Sogod, Tacloban, Biliran, Tanauan and Guian, and Verbena leaves Navotas for Sogod only.
One of our OpinYon writers, Liza Gaspar sought help to locate her Aunt Noemi and family in Brgy. San Isideo, Sta. Fe, Leyte. We’ll ask Frabelle Fishing to radio their ship captains to help in the search when arriving in the different disaster towns. Others who have need to search for anyone there can text us at our numbers below which we will relay to the ships.
The Spirit of Struggle
As the nation struggles with the crisis in the Visayas other daily struggles continue. The rise in Meralco power rates in November-December due to ill-timed maintenance operations of Malampaya raises the question: “Doesn’t the DoE have an obligation to keep power rates steady and at continuously affordable rates anymore to help people and enterprises maintain predictable overhead cost?” The authorities used to ensure such steady supply to make home and business planning possible by maintaining a balance in the power supply mix.
In the midst of the continuing struggle heroes often go unsung, but this week we will sing our hymns of praise to Mang Naro (Genaro) Lualhati, one of the leaders of LAMP (Lawyers Against Monopoly and Poverty) who in 2003 won the P30-billion refund of the income tax Meralco had been charging to consumers (which it is still doing).
Mang Naro passed away last week at the age of 92 leaving behind his message through his son Antonio, that the struggle for people’s justice against the power plunder of Meralco and its cohorts in the ERC and Congress should be sustained.
Beware of Gift Trojan Horses
While Filipinos have to accept any and all offers of aid and support now, they should also be wise and wary. An Internet blogger reminds us citing, Claro M. Recto “walang libre sa kano” U.S. writer, David Swanson in “Let’s Take Advantage of Suffering Filipinos!” sarcastically headlines a report on a USA Today columnist proposal to “…use the U.S. military to aid those suffering in the Philippines—as a backdoor means of getting the US military back into a larger occupation of the Philippines…. While the Philippines’ representative at the climate talks in Warsaw is fasting in protest of…the earth’s climate”.
Swanson also headlines, “How the US can dress up war as disaster relief to the Philippines”. The U.S. is puffing up its aircraft carriers and military relief role to: 1) justify to Americans massive US military spending and, 2) its pivot to Asia. Deprecating BS Aquino and RP government highlights incompetence to justify U.S. insertion. Meanwhile jet setting Pinoy anthropogenic global warming alarmist Yeb Sano waxes melodramatic using the Leyte tragedy to fast and reinforce false “man-made global warming (GW)” theory. Go to Center for Research on Globalization’s list of funding for the fraud.
The Next Disaster
It’s not “if” but “when” the next natural disaster will strike the Philippines and our families in the line of another super typhoon or an Intensity 9 earthquake. Government should lead in getting every barangay to fabricate heavy equipment at the lowest cost–see Open Source Ecology for free plans on how ordinary people can make hydraulic cranes, forklifts, bulldozers to free people from heavy debris; instead of PhP60 billion CCT going to waste. Learn from Cuba which buses threatened communities by the hundreds of thousands to safe grounds, as in Katrina with only two deaths compared to U.S. 1,800 deaths.
I am not leaving the fate of my children and grandchildren to mediocrities in government or the NGOs. I am buying used car jacks, crowbars ad steel cables for every room my houses my children’s homes. I constantly monitor seismic news and typhoon news. Dusan Zupka of the U.N. International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction opined, “I would dare to say that Cuba is a good example for other countries in terms of preparedness and prevention.” The people’s welfare is top priority for the revolutionary Cuban government, in the Philippine the people is last in priorities.
It’s from Peque Gallaga: “We cry desperately for demonstrable government response–we get almost next to nothing. It is increasingly apparent that local media goes hand in hand with self-servicing Malacañang press releases…What our leaders tell us is contradicted by …by the victims in these areas who are slowly able to give us the true picture of the realities of the situation….I read Marvin Xanth Geronimo who was there when Yolanda struck: that TV personalities and politicians like Mar Roxas and Ted Failon going to Tacloban for the photo op. They never helped;… Korina Sanchez calling Anderson Cooper “misinformed”. Cooper was in Tacloban. Korina was not…
“All those people who charge us for criticizing, for being negative, for Aquino bashing – I am done with these people. In a very Yellow Army way, they try to hide behind an illogical argument that we cannot help if we criticize.…. This man (Aquino) who is totally unprepared for the most difficult job in the country.
So my friends, as far as I’m concerned, you choose him or you choose the people. But if you instruct me again to stop bashing this man … I will unfriend you in Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and out in our leaderless streets.” As bad is a business newspaper’s headline lately, “7% growth rate still possible” says rating agencies when Yolanda proves their growth are meaningless to the people.
(Catch Herman Tiu Laurel’s weekly show at GNN Destiny Cable Channel 8, Skycable Channel 213, www.gnntv-asia.com Sat., 8 p.m. and replay Sun., 8 a.m.; tune to 1098AM, Tues. to Fri. 5pm; ; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com; and text reactions to 0923-4095739)
- WHAT IF? A Doomsday Scenario (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Navotas fishermen deliver aid to ‘Yolanda’ survivors (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Korina Sanchez reports from Ormoc, Anderson Cooper still in Tacloban (entertainment.inquirer.net)
- Philippines destruction ‘a great human tragedy’ as more than 10,000 feared killed (thestar.com)
- With 10,000 believed dead, Philippine typhoon ‘a great human tragedy’ (ctvnews.ca)
- More than 10,000 feared dead as Typhoon Haiyan slams Philippines islands (theprovince.com)
- Philippine typhoon deaths climb into thousands (news.yahoo.com)
- Anderson Cooper: We honor Filipinos’ strength (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- Anderson Cooper to Korina Sanchez: Go to Tacloban (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Anderson Cooper-Korina Sanchez tiff goes viral on the Internet (technology.inquirer.net)
Death and Survival
TYPHOON Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) has left the Philippines totally devastated.
With an official death toll of 2,357 (and going up) and 600,000 people displaced—tales of death, destruction and survival have come to light recently as “normalcy” slowly returns to the provinces which suffered the brunt of the tropical cyclone.
Perhaps a side-effect of the Janet Lim-Napoles pork barrel scandal, but the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has confirmed that most of the donations will not be handed over to government agencies, but instead sent—as directly as possible—to the affected communities.
Worse, there are also reports that US Marines escorting cargoes of relief goods from the United Nations have been instructed not to let Philippine government officials and politicians get their hands on relief goods that are scheduled to arrive in Samar aboard five C130 planes.
Has the image of the Filipino government official gone so crookedly low that he can’t be trusted even during this time of great crisis?
You fill in the answer to this one, reader.
Survivors became increasingly frustrated with the government’s slow response to distribute badly needed food and water. Tacloban City officials have reported that only 20 percent of the typhoon victims have received aid. There have been reports and video footage of near anarchy as some people resorted to looting warehouses and shops to find food, water and supplies. The images are enough to make anyone cringe.
The storm has passed but the death toll continues to rise. Eight people were crushed to death when alleged looters decided to raid a government stockpile of rice in the town of Alangalang, Leyte. In another incident, a homeowner shot and killed a number of persons outside his home thinking they were out to rob him of his food and supplies.
Looters, officials said, should not be treated as criminals since they are just desperate for food and water. It’s all a matter of survival and self-preservation. But what about those who break into ATM machines, are stealing television sets, chest freezers and small appliances essential for survival? It has also become a field day for common thieves.
President Benigno is embattled as ever, this time fending off supposed false reports on the number of deaths, which was initially pegged at above 10,000. At ground zero, aid workers and survivors are increasingly becoming skeptical of the President’s comments.
They expect PNoy to give it to them straight like the promises of his “Daang Matuwid”.
- 8 dead in rice looting in typhoon-hit Philippines (boston.com)
- 8 dead in rice looting in typhoon-hit Philippines (stripes.com)
- Haiyan/Yolanda: Eight die in food stampede amid desperate wait for aid (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- Desperation triggers anarchy in typhoon-hit areas (worldnews.nbcnews.com)
- Eight killed in typhoon food crush (itv.com)
- Philippines typhoon: eight die in food stampede amid desperate wait for aid (theguardian.com)
- Typhoon Haiyan Death Toll Tops 10,000, According To Official Estimates (huffingtonpost.com)
- 8 Dead in Rice Looting in Typhoon-Hit Philippines (abcnews.go.com)
- Storm survivors ‘desperate for aid’ (bbc.co.uk)
- 8 dead in looting of government warehouse in typhoon-ravaged Philippine town, official says – @AP (seattlepi.com)
EDUARDO and TESS NGAN TIAN: Entrepreneurs of ‘Pinoy Pizza’
WHILE definitely Italian in origin, husband and wife food entrepreneurs Eduardo and Tess Ngan-Tian went into business branding their pizza as the “Genuine Pinoy Pizza”. The gimmick worked and their small business grew by leaps and bounds.
Co-owners of the successful franchise system Lots’A Pizza, this Pinoy couple started their business in 1987 renting out food stall spaces near the San Beda College campus in Mendiola, Manila. At that time, Eduardo was selling hamburgers, siopao, ice cream, banana cue, peanuts and other snack food items through R&W Foods, and Tess was working as finance and administrative director at San Beda Alabang.
When no occupants leased three of their stalls in Mendiola, Tess came up with the idea of offering a different fare to the students—their usual patrons. To add to the fare she added pizza which she made from her own recipe.
With a business now needing fulltime attention, Eduardo asked Tess to quit her job at San Beda. After some thinking, Tess packed her bags and went to the United States to study a course on pizza technology at the American Institute of Baking where the unique pan baked crust and signature sauce of Lots’A Pizza was developed. That was the beginning of Lots’A Pizza here in the Philippines.
With no background in the food industry, but armed with CPA backgrounds, the Ngan-Tian couple invested PhP250,000 into their venture and started out with 10 co-owned Lots’A Pizza stores in 1996.
From these humble beginnings, the Ngan-Tian couple started a franchise system in 2000 and today Lots’A Pizza has over 130 franchised outlets all over the Philippines and 39 company-owned stores.
In a newspaper interview, Tess shared her guideposts for business.
“First, make sure that the product you have is universal. Meaning, anywhere in the country, or in the world, that product is accepted,” Tess said.
“Second, make sure that the product is tailored fit to the taste of your clients. You cannot expect someone in the Philippines to eat the same way as Americans do. Even if it is the same product, there will still be differences,” she added. “Third, and most importantly, you should develop your own product. Make sure that your product has its own character to be a market stand out.”
Through the couple’s joint effort, they were able to create a market brand known for its affordability and high quality of ingredients used. Their signature dough, she said, “has the desired chewiness and crunchiness but without the toughness.”
“Moreover the crust is formulated with very low sugar and oil which makes it a good source of complex carbohydrates,” Tess said.
To continuously develop their product, Lots’A Pizza has successfully partnered with multinational food companies like San Miguel, Purefoods, Dole Philippines and Kraft Food Products to provide them with ingredients customized for their pizza brand.
To help their franchisees, the couple also introduced the Lots’A Pizza Academy, a five-level training and development program that covers business concepts and the areas of recruitment, methods of preparation, cost analysis and management skills. Franchisees spend some time in a classroom and on-site environment to develop proficiency in pizza making, counter service and business management.
Tess and Eduardo also developed a telco-powered inventory and ordering system that “reduces human error and provides faster turnaround.”
To service its operational needs in Luzon, the company has invested in the construction of three commissaries to make sure that franchisees get a steady supply of pizza ingredients. After putting up commissaries in Pampanga and Las Piñas, the company built an even bigger facility in Cavite to provide for expansion in the southern parts of Luzon and Bicol Province.
The company also expects to open more branches as Lots’A Pizza builds its presence in Visayas and Mindanao.
What started as a small food cart in Mendiola, a Filipino-owned pizza chain continuously conquers every corner of the nation. And Eduardo concedes that they owe much of their success to the hard work of Tess—who also sits as company president and treasurer.
And if there’s one secret to their success Tess says its their conservative approach to business.
“Conservatism is our approach to business. We may not be aggressive as the rest but we have maintained focus in the business, dedicated a strong passion for the product and adopted good money management,” she said.
Tess said Lots’A Pizza will always remain committed to providing Filipinos with the best affordable pizza without compromising quality simply because their pizza is prepared by people who love and know pizzas.
Awards and Recognitions
No pizza company in the same market segment can match Lots’A Pizza in growth and number of prestigious awards received.
In 2011, Tess became one of 20 Go Negosyo Women Starpreneurs which included Genevieve Ledesma-Tan, Founder and President of the Southville International School and Colleges; Zenaida Tantoco, President of Rustan’s Commercial Corp.; Nelia Siggaoat, President of Manels Leathergoods Corp.; Elizabeth Lee, chief operating officer of Universal Motors; Myrna Yao, founder and COO of Richwell Trading; Natividad Cheng, Chief Executive Officer of Uratex Group of Companies; Rosalinda Hortaleza, Chairman and CEO of HBC Inc.; Vicki Belo, Medical director of Belo Medical Group; Merle Alferez, Founder of MSA Academic Advancement Institute; Sara Black, Owner of Sara Black Photography; Lydia de Roca, Owner of Lydia’s Lechon; Mary Grace Dimacali, President Mary Grace Foods Inc.; Emma Guerrero, President of Bioessence; Grace Gupana, CEO of Abs Bitter Herbs; Marlyn Montano, Owner of Holy Cow Animations; Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto; Ruth Callanta, President of Center for Community Transformation; Pacita Juan, Founder of Echostore; and Alegria Limjoco, CEO of Francorp.
Here is a rundown of the awards received by the company:
2012Franchise Awards – Best Franchising Support; Special Citation, Research and Development; Special Citation, New Distribution Models
2010Entrepreneur Philippines Franchising Awards Most Promising Franchise (gold); Best in Franchising Support (gold); Best Local Homegrown Franchise (gold)
2009Entrepreneur Philippines Franchising Awards Best Local Homegrown Franchise; Fastest Growing Franchise; Most Promising Franchise
2008Entrepreneur Philippines Franchising Awards Best Franchise Support; Best Local Homegrown Franchise
Entrepreneur Philippines Franchising Awards Best in Franchising Support
- Pizza Hut to Thanksgiving Rebel: Have Your Job Back (newser.com)
- Pizza Hut manager who refused to force his staff to work on Thanksgiving says he’s no hero (4utah.com)
- Pizza Hut manager fired for closing on Thanksgiving (kvue.com)
- Finding Hot Stuff Pizza Coupons for Your Area (coupons.answers.com)
- Pizza Hut GM Fired for Refusing to Make Employees Work on Thanksgiving (gawker.com)
- Domino’s franchisee condemns Obamacare’s ‘war on pizza’: Calorie count menus (redalertpolitics.com)
- Pizza Hut offers GM his job BACK after Thanksgiving firing goes viral (pix11.com)
- Jet’s Pizza for Less (coupons.answers.com)
- Pizza Hut GM: I Tried to Close on Thanksgiving, Got Fired (newser.com)
- Pizza Hut offers to rehire manager who refused to open on holiday (news.yahoo.com)
WHAT IF? A Doomsday Scenario
by Frederick Fabian
WHAT if a disaster of cataclysmic proportions hits Metro Manila, home to more than 15 million Filipinos—and the seat of the nation’s capital?
Thousands of lives will be lost and casualties can run to millions. It will be a harrowing sight that will surely bring the nation to its knees. That is, if we consider the potential disasters on a grand scale, such as the recent earthquake in Bohol and typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that razed big parts of Leyte to the ground.
What if, instead of the Visayas, Yolanda took a path straight through the heart of the National Capital Region?
The resulting storm surge would drive the waters of the Laguna Lake inland and inundate the lakeside barangays of Laguna and drown millions of people. The loss of lives and damage to property would be triple the Visayas count.
What if the Marikina Valley Fault System shifted and triggered a massive earthquake? Are we ready to deal with such a scenario?
The Philippines, after all, is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of the world that is susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic activity. The island republic is also considered one of the world’s most dangerous places, because we are a constant recipient of typhoon landfalls more than any large country in the world.
As grim as it may sound, an inconvenient truth is better than a comfortable lie.
The Marikina Valley Fault System extends from San Mateo, Rizal and runs through Makati, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasig and Taguig. It has been observed by Phivolcs and other scientific experts as a potential origin of large-scale earthquakes that can reach a magnitude of 7 or higher within Metro Manila.
A possible death toll, as predicted by experts, can reach 35,000, with an estimated 120,000 injuries. The earthquake will also require the evacuation of three million people from the potential disaster areas.
In a research done by the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2004, it was revealed that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake can destroy 40% of residential buildings, fatalities numbering 114,000 and fires that will result to 18,000 more casualties.
While the eastern side of Metro Manila will suffer the brunt of the event, damage and consequential damage can affect the rest of the NCR. Dr. Norman Tungol of Phivolcs has advised that Metro residents, especially those living near the faultline, to be prepared for the worst, because earthquake prediction is not an exact science.
Aside from structural damage, another risk looming over the people of Metro Manila would be the possibility that reservoirs such as the Angat Dam would be damaged and cause flooding. Building collapse can cause electrical short circuits, petroleum and LPG leakages from storage tanks, among others, that would trigger fires, according to a report by online news site Bulatlat.com. Places susceptible to fires are Valenzuela, Caloocan, and the southern parts of Quezon City.
Newsfeeds in Facebook were filled with complaints and angry callouts about the incompetence of President Benigno Aquino III and his lack of political will in dealing with the recent typhoon. The complaints are well-placed and unquestionably valid: at the same space of the few hours when CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper was reporting on the lack of organized government efforts in Tacloban City, President Aquino was on the air with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that everything is under control despite contrary evidence.
It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that the President is being cold to the plight of the people of Leyte, if his actions in the past week after the storm is to be gauged. After all, PNoy has been distant and detached from the real-life drama happening in Tacloban and surrounding towns, preferring to do a form of remote-control governance rather than be physically present where the people are suffering, where they are mourning the dead and where the children are going hungry. That appears to be too much for his constitution.
It seems that it is not something a privileged, upper-class-raised Noynoy can handle. How can a sheltered rich boy, the scion of Philippine political icons and hacienda landlords, possibly bear the harrowing sight of devastation and desperation when it’s taking place in front of him? The crisis is far from the safety and comfort of his Malacanang office. We can just imagine that he will treat the residents of Metro Manila the same way. Humans are creatures of habit, and if anything, the President is one. He has a terrible habit of placing the blame on someone else, as if he lacks the capability to own up responsibility.
Incompetence Is Matter Of Fact
As many rational and well-informed Filipinos would tell you, Malacañang has always been incompetent where it counts. Some may dismiss it as mere cynicism and pessimism. But several counts of wrong decisions and late responses to a crisis is an indicator not just of incompetence, but of impotence. We all know that this is not the first time that the Aquino administration has shown that it is incapable of delivering in crucial times. From the 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis, the growing unemployment rate despite his claims of economic growth, the 2011 vetoing of the budget provision for disaster management, to the mishandling of the pork barrel issue, the list just goes on.
Reputable news analysts and weather experts have predicted that the NCR can become the next ground zero based on past scientific data and environmental factors. There is more than enough evidence to support the possibility that significant parts of Metro Manila can and will be subjected to massive damage that can equal that of Tacloban and nearby Leyte towns. According to former Manila Chronicle newsman and science/technology writer Alan C. Robles, “a storm like Haiyan could bring the Philippine capital to its knees.”
In his interview with MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino, the official confirmed similar concerns by saying that it will be just like Tacloban, which was decimated to the ground when Yolanda struck. Tolentino confidently stated it will just be the same, if not worse, although he noted that some structures in Manila are better built to withstand typhoons. He significantly added, “It will also cause societal disruption.”
Welcome To Floodland
Metro Manila is 638 square kilometers in area, composed of 16 cities, one municipality, and has up to around 15 million people living in it. It is surrounded by bodies of water and flood-prone areas such as Barangka in Marikina, Pasig areas near Rosario, central parts of the city of Manila (Blumentritt, Maceda, España, etc.), and parts of Roxas Boulevard in Pasay.
The NCR is practically sandwiched between Manila Bay, facing the China Sea on the west side and Laguna Lake on the southeast. Another factor to consider is the northeastern part bordering the province of Rizal.
In recent years, the mountainsides there have practically been denuded and logged to the ground, and residents in the lower parts of Antipolo City near Marikina have experienced damaging floods due to the accumulated rainwater from Rizal flowing into the river.The Angat Dam and the Pampanga river basins are also hazards to Metro Manila if a super typhoon of the same scale as Yolanda hits. In 2012, disaster management official Edgardo Ollet admitted that the dam “has cracks and needs major repairs”.
One can imagine that the combined force of incessant raining and a highly possible super typhoon is all it would take, and a deluge of epic proportions is just waiting to happen. Meanwhile Dr. Mahar Lagmay of DOST’s Project Noah was also asked by Robles, and he was positive that another super typhoon can happen in the near future. Dr. Lagmay even put it this way: “It’s Russian roulette”. It may not hit now, or any time this week, or the next, but the chances are very high that it can and will happen. Scientists do not need to reiterate those facts to us, as it is already evident in our history as a country: tropical storms are regular occurences. The sad truth is that we as a society have not learned so much from past disasters. As philosopher George Santayana would put it, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Lessons In Foresight
Pecier Decierdo, a physics teacher who works for Mind Museum and science advocacy director for civil organization Filipino Freethinkers, has provided pointers that the public should always keep in mind when it comes to handling disasters. He stated, “More storms make landfall on the Philippines than on any other large country on Earth.”
This one fact demands that the science curriculum in the country should be tailored to produce basic education graduates who understand how tropical storms roll.” According to him, allowing an inadequately informed population to live in a storm-prone country is a massive inhumanity.
A public dialogue on disaster management should be top priority, so that people will be more capable and well-informed in handling the effects of natural disasters in our lives, rather than wait for government to dictate disaster measures. Decierdo remarked, “We should talk about the weather more”. It is known that the country has an insufficient number of meteorologists, and that the public does not regard due status to meteorologists and weather scientists, which results to having underpaid and overworked PAGASA employees.
Underpaid weather specialists and undermanned and ill-equipped weather stations result to inaccurate weather forecasting, which lead to deaths and losses that could otherwise have been prevented.
Using 2009’s Ondoy devastation as basis, we can expect that a Haiyan-scale super storm will bring in not just the strongest winds, but the force of floodwaters rushing in and submerging two-story buildings. Business and commerce in the metropolis will definitely be halted. Makati’s main thoroughfares would be clogged, and being a neighbouring city to flood-prone Pasay, it just makes it worse.
Roxas Boulevard, site of Manila’s significant commercial activities and facing Manila Bay, would be the one of the most damaged for obvious reasons. Metro Manila is located in a catchbasin between Manila Bay and Laguna Lake, which means that there is no exit for excess water pouring in from both sides. According to urban planner and master architect Paolo Alcazaren, most of the drains constructed since the Spanish period have either been lost, covered up, or clogged with garbage.
A super typhoon hitting Metro Manila will definitely paralyze the country’s economy,because it will be more than the sum of the past typhoons of the last five years.
This doesn’t mean that we should just be fatalistic and embrace the apocalyptic end times, because something can actually be done.
This is where disaster experts come in. In an interview with Rappler’s Marites Vitug, Kathryn Hawley of Asia Foundation advises that it’s best to prepare for a worst-case scenario and hope that it doesn’t happen. Measures such as stockpiling of water and food, strategic assigning of resources, land use regulations, low-cost housing programs, public awareness campaigns and poverty reduction strategies can help absorb the shocking blow of an imminent catastrophe.
A super typhoon hitting Metro Manila will definitely paralyze the country’s economy,because it will be more than the sum of the past typhoons of the last five years. If not a super typhoon, the threat of the Marikina Fault System is imminent. Combine that with mounting government negligence, festering corruption, and lack of public preparedness. It is a tragedy waiting to happen, and we cannot just stand by and ignore it. It is time to learn by foresight rather than hindsight.
Disaster readiness is the only way to reduce the “what ifs?”.
- This week: WHAT IF? A Doomsday Scenario (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- ‘Yolanda’ survivor faces uncertain future in Metro Manila (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- 82,757 Metro Manila road accidents in 2012 (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- #TalkThursday: Risk mapping Metro Manila (rappler.com)
- Study: 37,000 may die if 7.2 quake would hit Metro Manila (balitaktakan.wordpress.com)
- NASA: Haiyan/Yolanda’s strong side could affect Metro Manila (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- ‘Metro Manila’ for ‘Yolanda’ survivors (entertainment.inquirer.net)
- [Pink Scene] TFP Cancels 2013 Metro Manila Pride Celebration (geeky-guide.com)
- Island-hopping ‘Yolanda’ to be felt in Metro Manila (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- How prepared is Metro Manila for a strong quake? (rappler.com)