WeatherPhilippines App Helps Create a #WeatherWiser Nation
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With 7,507 islands to speak of, the Philippines is the kind of the country every beach lover would want to visit. Being an archipelago, however, the Philippines is also vulnerable to several issues within its shores, including the problem of transportation. Travelers or vacationers who want to explore the many beaches of the country will have to bow down to the ever-changing weather – and how this can affect their travel plans when it comes to transportation. It doesn’t even matter if you’re traveling by plane, by boat or by land – the weather always comes first.
Social Media and Mother Nature
It’s always been said that Mother Nature is fickle and could change her mind about the weather from one hour to the next. This makes it important for travelers and common carriers to be constantly updated about how the weather is shaping up.
So what medium of exchange can provide such a rapid transmission of a message to fit the ever-changing weather? Social Media of course! With mobile phones practically a necessity in every traveler’s luggage, there’s nothing like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word that a storm is brewing.
Weather Wiser Efforts
Fortunately, there are already people taking those first crucial steps in utilizing social media to help make the Philippines a #WeatherWiserNation. Making Cebu their initial landing place, the combined efforts of CitySavings, Rappler, Cebu Pacific, and WeatherPhilippines has organized a social media training workshop aimed towards creating a better information dissemination and response unit for fickle weather conditions. Working hand in hand with the Department of Education (DepEd), the workshop is all about Social Media Knowledge Mobilization and Disaster Preparedness.
The workshop focuses not on the after-effects of natural calamities but rather, on what should be done before these calamities hit. With the Philippines often spending millions of pesos in rehabilitation after the likes of Typhoon Ondong, it makes sense to instead utilize these millions to minimize the disaster in the first place through a more efficient system of preparedness. Participants of the workshop were encouraged to create their own plans as well as equipped with life-saving techniques that can be used in the event of disasters.
More Projects by WeatherPhilippines
The Cebu workshop is not the first and certainly won’t be the last in pursuance of a #WeatherWiserNation. Already in operation for several years, Weather Philippines has deployed 780 AWS (Automated Weather Stations) all over the country with the intent of creating a more effective way of predicting the weather. Partnering with more than 568 local government units and private sector companies, it continues to train people in the necessary art of weather survival.
A private organization, Weather Philippines relies on the generous donations of those supporting their cause which includes some of the biggest companies today like LBC, SM, VistaLand, Ayala Group, ICTSI International Container Terminal Services, and Nickel Asia Corporation.
Weather Preparedness for Sustainability
There’s no way to avoid or even prevent weather disasters – but there’s definitely something that can be done about how to handle these extreme weather, before and after they land on the Philippine islands.
By setting up a communication system designed to inform every Filipino about the incoming weather, people from all over the archipelago will have the chance to prepare themselves for the oncoming onslaught. Whether they’re rice farmer or city dwellers – it always pays to know in advance what’s coming ahead.
With weather predictions made as accurate as possible, schools, businesses, and governments will be in the position to declare off-days in the interest of preservation of life and limb. This will also make it easier for the necessary branches of the government to brace themselves once the emergency hits. Proper storing and sharing of provisions once the worst is over further add up to the benefits that only weather preparedness can provide.
Every year, there are always reports of individuals getting caught in the weather and perishing, to the devastation of their family members. The #UltimateGoal of Weather Philippines, therefore, is to achieve a #ZeroCasualty result after each and every typhoon that hits the country. It doesn’t matter whether the typhoon blasts over Manila or rains over the farther reaches of Samar, the #ZeroCasualty goal applies to all.
It’s a noble goal, considering how the country is in the path of many typhoons, averaging of 10 to 20 tropical storms of varying degrees each year. For each of those typhoons, there’s an average of 958 casualties – a combination of children, women, and men. Recovery and rehabilitation costs often rank around 9 billion, a number that Philippine’s can’t well afford. The cost of lives lost however – no number will be sufficient.
Shift in Mindset
The efforts right now are targeted towards preparedness in all aspects from the infrastructure, the response of the people, the response of the government, and the financial trappings that go with the calamity. A more efficient disaster minimization and prevention is predicted to be more cost-efficient as opposed to an effective calamity rehabilitation and outreach. In order to make this possible, WeatherPhilippines deems it crucial to reach every Filipino, influence every business enterprise, and optimize the government to create a more streamlined and co-working system that’s striving for the common goal.
About WeatherPhilippines Foundation
Sustainability and Communications Specialist for Weather Philippines Foundation opened up about future plans in line with the organization’s advocacy for a #WeatherWiserNation. This starts with the official launch of the website which would be accessible and fully operational in November 2016. A sneak peek of the domain was provided by Lisa Neri.
WeatherPhilippines is a non-government entity that nonetheless, works together with the PH government to create a more weather worthy nation capable of withstanding natural calamities. Its aim is to use weather information in paving the way for sustainable development in the socio-economic sphere.
The group was founded through the combined efforts of UnionBank, Aboitiz Foundation, and Meteogroup in 2012. For more information about Weather Philippines, watch out for the launch of their domain or check out their profiles through Social Media.
#WeatherWiser Influencers Invade Cebu
While people in cold countries are dreaming of a tropical destination just like the Philippines, most of them are also aware that transportation in the country is a bit challenging. Since we are living in an archipelago, transportation can be canceled anytime, for instance when there’s a typhoon or during heavy rains.
As a frequent traveler, I had my own share of inconvenience. In fact, I already experienced getting stranded in Batanes three times already. Although the weather is unpredictable most of the time, checking the accurate weather forecast before you leave your base can definitely help you avoid problems. This is the reason why Weather Philippines organized its social media influencers to visit Cebu.
Our morning flight to Cebu was sponsored by Cebu Pacific, another supportive service partner of WeatherPhilippines.
As mentioned, CitySavings, WeatherPhilippines, and Rappler joined forces to organize a social media training workshop for us, the social media influencers, and the DepEd. The workshop aims to hone the creativity of participants in using Social Media Knowledge Mobilization and Disaster Preparedness.
It was a sunny day when we arrived in Cebu. From the airport, we headed to the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) office to have our lunch. While having lunch, Joy Gerra, the executive director of the cultural heritage program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi), gave us a short lecture about the social significance of conservation and promotion of local heritage sites.
After having lunch, we boarded our respective vans and started our Urbanization of Cebu Tour. The tour included a visit to some of the heritage sites of Cebu that helped shape the development of Cebu as a business and cultural hub in the Visayas. The tour was provided by Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), the same team that started Gabii sa Kabilin tour that aims to highlight Cebu’s rich culture and heritage.
Here are some of the places we visited:
Fuerte de San Pedro – Built as a military defense fortress, Fuerte de San Pedro served military units during the Spanish colonization era. Military units worked under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s command.
Magellan’s Cross – Hearing the name “Cebu’ immediately points out to the Magellan’s Cross as one of its top structure of interest. This cross was erected by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers at the time when Christianity was introduced in the country. Setting up this cross was in accordance to Felipe Magellan’s orders on March 15, 1521.
Governor’s Gallery – The Governor’s Gallery is a place of interest by showcasing the local history focusing on governors of the past. These governors served as chief executives at that time. The gallery shows governors who served the city from 1901 to 2013. Apart from highlighting their achievements and profiles, the gallery also has their portraits.
Cebu Provincial Capitol – The Cebu Provincial Capital was the most important part of Cebu government being the seat of its local authorities. Juan M. Arellano, an architect, designed the popular local office. Arellano was also the architect behind popular works like the Legislative Building (now known as the National Museum) and the Manila Metropolitan Theater.
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral – This is another important tourist site for Christians doing yearly pilgrimage and architecture enthusiasts. It’s the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu’s seat in the province. It was first established as the diocese’s seat in August 1595 and has been maintained ever since. This architecture is also popular for its thick walls and excellent construction that withstood typhoons that hit the province.
Colon Street – This is Cebu’s historical street and is known as the shortest on top of being the oldest national road in the country. It can be considered as the counterpart to the old street found in Vigan.
Halad Museum – this one possesses music-themed and the center of musical heritage in the province.
Cebu City Public Library – this is part of today’s National Library of the Philippines.
Basilica Minor del Sto Nino – Founded way back 1565, this is deemed the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Philippines.
Museo Sugbo – previously the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, this museum is just a few steps away from Plaza Independencia.
Jesuit House – apart from being deemed among the oldest houses in the Philippines, it is also said to be a Chinese family-owned house many centuries ago. A coin buried within the house was discovered, indicating that this house was used during the Ming dynasty.
On our second day, we had a joint social media training and workshop with the participants from the DepEd. Before the workshop started, Weather Philippines’ Sustainability Manager Kaye Rosario-Sangalang gave us a short introduction about WeatherPhilippines and its advocacies.
After the brief introduction, Raisa Serafica of Rappler conducted a social media training for the participants and gave us some examples of effective use of social media in community projects, information campaign and even in political campaigns.
Lia Neri, Sustainability, and Communications Specialist of Weather Philippines Foundation, also gave us a sneak peek of their new website which will be officially launched this November 2016.
In our group activity, Bloggers and DepEd teachers were equally grouped to create a communications plan for disaster preparedness. Each team’s goal was to come up with a communications plan on how to disseminate information and mobilize fellow Filipinos using various channels.
In this exercise, we had to come up with an effective way of gathering weather data and make sure it reaches the public with an appropriate warning with helpful disaster preparedness tips.
The event ended with individual group presentations showcasing their own communication plans related to disaster preparedness. Overall, the event was successful and we learned a lot from all the activities we had during the two-day event in Cebu. I really think this type of activity is really helpful and this should be replicated in LGU’s as well.
To get current weather condition report and seven-day forecasts in different locations in the Philippines, you can download Weather Philippines Mobile App using these links –>> Android and IOS.