Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In Frank's wake.

Iloilo City- University of the Philippines Visayas campus- I arrived in Iloilo City exactly a day after Typhoon Frank (Fengshen) passed north of this city (on the first flight after the airport was reopened). While the storm hit Aklan province, Iloilo City bore the brunt of Frank's rainbands. Water was clearly dumped in the city sinking a majority of its districts in up to 4 meters of water.

The road from the new international airport is littered with the remains of washed out houses and vehicles some of which were completely filled in with mud. Not a few of the cars were brand new. Evacuees line the road and many have begun the clean-up. One resident told me that the water just rose within five minutes leaving them caught unawares. The only good thing is that this happened during the day and if it did happen in the night,the death toll would have been horrible, says the cab driver who took me around.

Iloilo is defined by two rivers and a geography the gives the city its name. Residents say that they have never experienced an "Ormoc style" deluge in their lives till Saturday. This is attested by a centenarian who lived to see this day.

The blame game on the sinking of the ship "Princess of the Stars" is on. The Sulpicio Lines ship (presumbably its largest and most modern) suffered engine trouble midway on its voyage from Manila to Mactan on rough seas off Sibuyan Island. With little power the ship eventually foundered and tipped over trapping 800 passengers and crew. About 50 or so survivors have been rescued with some drifting on to shores off Quezon and Masbate.

Blame has been heaped on PAGASA, the Philippine Coast Guard, Sulpicio Lines and of course the ship's captain (as of this writing, still unaccounted for).

The truth is like this. This is material that the National Geographic Channel's top rating "Seconds from Disaster" makes a good program on!

In the NGC show, a disaster happens when all the causal events come in line. Initially the causes seem unrelated but they are not. The show tells viewers no one can really wash themselves off the responsibility.

PAGASA still has no capability to make less than 12 hour forecasts. The PCG needs to review its protocols in allowing ships to set sail. Sulpicio Lines needs to see if its captains are up to their tasks. Investigators will have to connect the dots.

We have to be fair to Sulpicio, while it had the reputation as a sinkable shipping line, its ships are now new and did not overload.

The question is why this happened.


Jego said...

The question is why this happened.

And that is a very good question. Why does anything happen?

Youre right about the blame game. Someone will have to pay for this whether they deserve it or not. It's good PR for the government. Sulpicio is the easiest target because of its record. The Coast Guard? A few token heads will roll for show (and given new assignments?)

Pagasa can only do so much. It's the weather. Pagasa can only deal with probabilities.

Sulpicio is toast.

blackshama said...

Even JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) and the American JWTC in Guam say that Frank messed up the computer models! They have better equipment, computer models and well paid PhDs than PAGASA.

PAGASA can't be fully blamed.

Bren said...

One of my old aunts says this is because Filipinos are not praying enough.

AdB said...

And guess what? Sulpicio Lines are blaming the poor captain (who's probably dead)....

blackshama said...

The running joke is the reason why Iloilo got a mudpack is because Raul Gonzales was in town!

Jokes aside, the situation is really bad. Large parts of the residential areas of the city are covered in mud.

As for the Captain, well a good captain goes down with his command.

The survivors say they learned something that allowed them to survive from the movie "Titanic"

cheryl joy martinez said...

Yes, indeed "WHY".

For now, the question is WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO? The entire western visayas is damaged. It is just way too overwhelming.

I have a blog detailing accounts of Typhoon Frank in Aklan. Visit http://kyrienne.wordpress.com/2008

Thank you for your blog.

cheryl joy martinez said...

Yes, indeed WHY.

Overwhelming talaga. The entire western visayas is affected.

I do have a blog narrating accounts of what had happened in Aklan when Typhoon Frank came to town. Visit http://kyrienne.wordpress.com/2008

Thank you and more power.