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Silliman President Discusses Disasters

Nearing the six months anniversary of the Super Typhoon that hit the Visayas region of the Philippines, it was with much concern, compassion and a sense of urgency that UPAASF and FASAE, in cooperation with the Philippine Consulate of SF, sponsored a round table discussion with Dr. Malayang on April 29th, 2014 at the San Francisco Consulate Social Center. Millions of our countrymen continue to suffer through the Haiyan devastation and reports indicate "ground zero" is "unsettled".

As the clock continues to tick, there is an urgent need to rally the community to get more engaged with the rebuilding and renewal effort -- soonest. For a Tuesday night, the turnout of the community indicated a strong concern for increasing the efforts being made to address the pain and suffering of the millions that have been affected by these calamities.

Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, Silliman University President, the guest speaker, gave a thought-provoking lecture before the local SF FilAm community. A UP graduate with a PhD from UC Berkeley, and an environmental policy expert and educator, Dr. Malayang gave his personal take on the nature of calamities – like the Bohol earthquake, Zamboanga siege and the "first of its kind" typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) --- and how these natural and manmade calamities turn into deadlier disasters because of the way we respond to them. Dr. Malayang described the things we did right before, during, and after these calamities; and, he addressed the issues that we must improve on before, during, and after the recurrence of future events. Of interest was the fact that a single action of recognizing the factor of ground contours along the shoreline and the reach inland of the predicted surge could have given forewarning to those in the low-lying contours and prevented many deaths.

Ms. Maginda Fernandez of San Francisco gave a tearful account of her personal experience of the full fury of Haiyan as the ocean surge swept into her home in Tacloban and she had to huddle on a stairway between the height of the surge and a second floor that was exposed to the full fury of the typhoon that had blown away her roof. Her family lost all their material possessions. She has become dedicated to humanitarian efforts for Tacloban since this calamity.

It was gratifying to hear that a number of groups have made valiant efforts in addressing the needs of the devastated areas. Presentations were made by by Mr. Radi Calalang of Tech Civilization, Dr. Jay Gonzales of USF, Phil Dela Cruz of FASAE and Uyen Tran of Give2Asia on their respective involvement in relief and renewal efforts.

The discussion made it clear that a more efficient and effective result can be achieved for long-term rebuilding and renewal through joining the forces of the academe, the various humanitarian and charitable groups, as well as getting the involvement of philanthropic individuals in the community, affinity groups, and business sponsorship and support. The community was encouraged to join the efforts of these groups and bring together the vast internet media networks into the sponsorship and support of these efforts.

The bottom line message was that, with the vast number of victims, all of us must assuredly be personally connected in some way to an individual or family that has been affected. It is with compassion for each other that we in the community shall do all what we can to provide the necessary help.