Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Smart Taps Bohol Youth for Disaster Preparedness

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Five years since the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol, the events during that day are still fresh in the minds of the students who went through the ordeal.

“I was shaking because my grandmother was crying, and my cousin was shouting, ‘earthquake! earthquake!’” said 19-year-old medical technology student Geena Mae Hopida, recalling their family in panic.

The quake, whose epicenter was in Bohol, struck on Oct. 15, 2013, and jolted most of the Visayas and parts of Mindanao and Luzon. It was one of the strongest earthquakes to hit the Philippines in recent years, causing injuries and loss of lives, and massive damage to property and infrastructure.

Amid the tremors, Hopida had the presence of mind to instruct others to “duck, cover and hold,” as she had learned during earthquake drills at school.

Grade 12 student Adrian Bucoy could hardly find words to describe the terror of feeling the ground trembling. “The rumbling from under the ground became louder and louder. My mother was calling me from the kitchen, but we couldn’t hear each other,” said Bucoy, now 18 years old.

A few weeks later, the province was hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan), one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record.

Hopida and Abucoy, who both study at Holy Name University in Tagbilaran City, were some of the participants of the TNT Tropang Ready disaster preparedness caravan organized at their campus by PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications.

Smart’s TNT Tropang Ready aims to train youths in disaster preparedness skills so that they can help their communities in times of calamities. Smart recently brought the caravan to HNU as part of the company’s nationwide learning series on disaster preparedness geared toward the youth.

“At Smart, we work hand in hand with our partners to promote the culture of preparedness within communities. We are tapping the youth for this program—Bohol students, specifically—because of their skills, their tech savvy and their first-hand experience of surviving a calamity,” said Ramon R. Isberto, PLDT and Smart public affairs head.

More than 1,000 students and school personnel were taught emergency preparedness lessons by representatives of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the provincial disaster risk reduction and management office, and resource persons from Emergency Management Center.

The speakers discussed emergency risks and hazards and demonstrated the proper way to do the duck-cover-hold protection technique during earthquakes: duck, or drop to the floor; take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture (or against a wall); and hold on to the piece of furniture.

The speakers also shared the contents of a “Go Bag,” a survival kit containing a flashlight, bottle of water, mobile phone, garbage bag, T-shirt, flashlight battery, and other essentials that could last up to 72 hours.

Interactive booths, games, and other activities further illustrated preparedness, such as making a paracord bracelet, which doubles as an emergency rope and contains a whistle that can come in handy during emergencies.

“After this session with TNT Tropang Ready, we want our students to bring their learnings at home,” said Anne Mariquit Opus, HNU health and safety officer, adding that “Bohol is quite vulnerable.”

The provincial disaster risk reduction and management office cannot do everything, conceded its chief, Anthony Damalerio, as he underscored the importance of partnerships. “We’re happy that Smart is doing its part in helping disseminate information regarding disaster management here in Bohol,” he said.

Smart has been working with different schools nationwide to help families and individuals in high-risk areas prepare for emergencies and disasters. The TNT Tropang Ready program is the latest enhancement of Smart’s disaster preparedness initiative for communities launched in 2013.

The TNT Tropang Ready caravan is part of Smart’s #SafePH advocacy, which promotes preparedness through mobile solutions and on-ground activities to help communities mitigate disaster risks.

The program won in the Community Engagement category at the prestigious Golden World Awards this year. The GWA recognizes PR practices that meet international standards of excellence and is organized annually by the International Public Relations Association.

Louie Domingo (left) of Emergency Management Center demonstrates to the audience preparedness tips with the help of a Holy Name University student at the TNT Tropang Ready activity held at the campus in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

Holy Name University students list down the contents of a “Go Bag” or a survival kit at the TNT Tropang Ready disaster preparedness learning session held at their campus.

Representatives of Smart Communications join students and school personnel of Holy Name University for a photo after the TNT Tropang Ready disaster preparedness caravan held at their campus in Tagbilaran City.

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