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Preparation

/ 10:02 AM November 17, 2013

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago obviously came prepared for the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation. She came with a satchel containing a book and a file of papers which appeared to be her guide for the process of questioning.

Step by step, she made an effort to convince Janet Lim Napoles to become a state witness. She informed Janet of the consequences of such a move. She then asserted that she was qualified to be such because she was not the guiltiest person in the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.

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Maybe Janet Napoles came prepared not to reveal anything. But the senator with her background and preparation succeeded in informing and educating the public not only about accused persons becoming state witnesses but also in instructing us on the network of connections between persons, the scam and the legislators. With systematic questioning, her preparedness, she was able to uncover interesting links. So the time was not wasted.

In the case of the recent calamity questions have been raised about preparation. Many efforts were exerted to make the people prepared. PAG-ASA provided weather forecasts with descriptions on the strength of the storm and the areas to be directly hit. Many reminders were provided over various media of communication regarding how to prepare. For two days we shopped for provisions. Evacuation centers were prepared. The evening preceding that fateful dawn various local government officials were checked regarding their preparations. The mayor of Guian said even relief packs have been readied.y

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When I asked my students from Consolacion how they prepared, all of them had participated in preparations which included checking parts of the house, stocking on batteries, water and food, and charging cellphones, and praying. Many of the people in Cebu had been prepared because of their experience with Ruping.

When I listened to the discussions after the storm, several people said the death and destruction was caused by the storm surges. These storm surges had been announced, but did we really know what storm surges are and the significance of such a phenomenon. When I listened to the scientific explanation provided by the experts of the UP Marine Science Institute, I realized that what was needed was long-range preparation in terms of education.

So I reflected on what was needed in the school curriculum for more resilient communities, for honest-to-goodness risk reduction management.

We need to take the learning and teaching of geography more seriously. Some define geography as the interaction between the features of the land and the human beings in that land. When we have Philippine History and Government and Asian Civilization, we have discussions on geography. We point out the significance of the location of the Philippines—its being in the typhoon belt and stress the need for disaster preparedness. When we discuss the tectonic plate theory we again point out that we are located at the joint of two moving plates so we are in an unstable area.

But when the MSI experts described the coastline of Tacloban, I realized more was needed in the teaching of geography. How many of us are familiar with the coastline of our locality? Maybe we need to revive among our students a closeness to the land in Social Studies, Science and other courses. Our pupils and students have to actually explore the local community. They have to go and study the local community and learn with the help of DOST, DENR and other government agencies.

When an expert interviewed in BBC explained how a very strong storm would end up in the Philippines, discussing ocean currents and temperature, again I asked, being right here open to the Pacific Ocean, how much do we know about ocean currents? How are we providing our youth with a sense of urgency regarding climate change? How well integrated is the study of climate change into the curriculum? Are we looking at the local applications of the reality?

They say that we tend to be more on-the-spot and are inclined to cramming because we live in a tropical country with sunshine all-year-round. We have plants bearing fruits the entire year and do not have to prepare for winter. Survival and serenity in our complex world needs both long-term and short-term preparation. If we start early and sustain these efforts throughout basic education maybe young adults will have the habit. This is quite a challenge because we also have to teach the young authentic presence in the moment, giving it full attention at the same time that we let them imagine, plan and prepare for the future.

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TAGS: column, Janet Lim Napoles, opinion, Pagasa, Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, Supertyphoon Yolanda
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