ICT Bayanihan’s Call to Action for Communication and Collaboration
“The right information at the right time through the right channels can save families, livelihoods and lives.”
Meeting and sharing the table with the keynote speakers prior to the commencement of the ICT Bayanihan summit was both a learning and humbling experience. It was a full-house event attended by people from the public and private sector with a vision to ensure an organized and safer Philippines.
True to the rationale of empowering lives through ICT innovations, leader in mobile Smart Communications, together with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region 8, held the 7th ICT Bayanihan: DRR Communications Summit in Tacloban, Leyte – the latter an appropriate host after their experience on disaster response and management during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013. Fast forward to 2 ½ years, Tacloban rose from the mud and waters armed with resiliency and lessons hard-earned from the most destructive storm to hit the planet.
The first day of the summit started early albeit was greeted with downcast weather. Reports indicated a brewing storm affecting the country particularly Region 8, juxtaposed to the atmosphere inside the conference room which was alert, vibrant, with a seeming sense of unity among the attendees. These people meant business; they are equipped with theory and practice in emergency situations but are still eager to learn more.
Discussions included the country’s need for an efficient cross-unit collaboration among stakeholders (both from the public and private sectors) and a seamless approach to respond and mobilize during crises. Accounts about the relief operation during Yolanda were likewise shared during the talks. A few of these stories were frustrating, tiring – plausibly disheartening to a neophyte volunteer or public official present during the event. However, lessons about hope and strength were magnified through the Filipino’s spirit of bayanihan and resiliency. Taclobanons may have fallen as individuals but were aided to rise as one through the efforts of the government, the private sector, NGOs and volunteers.
During his welcome remarks Director Posadas said, ”Yolanda has raised the bar for preparedness,” and indeed she has. But to add, the lessons from Yolanda also resonate the capacity of the public and private sectors to unite, the selflessness of volunteers to brave a city despite the destruction and acceptance of stakeholders about greater room for improvement.
Our country learned the hard way but the challenge of bayanihan was actualized through educating stakeholders, valuing accountability and strengthening communication and mobilization. The super typhoon was an unfortunate end for some of our brothers and sisters but it was likewise a beginning for the remaining majority. The opportunity of the nation to rise, prepare and act amidst differences to realize a committed and ready Philippines.