Philippines Recovery Efforts Led by Local Experts

by De La Salle University

“Kaming nasa komunidad ang may responsibilidad na tulungan ang bawat isa kapag may disaster o panganib. Pero minsan wala kami magawa dahil sa kakulangan ng kakayahan at gamit (We, the community members have the responsibility to help each other whenever there is a disaster or threat. But sometime we are constraint in helping due to limited capacity and resources.)”. This is what the community members always say to us during our group discussion hopping. We believe and recognize as a center that communities play a major role in disaster preparedness and response.

Communities are considered frontlines and first receivers of any form of disaster; therefore, there is a need to increase their capacity on resiliency and safety. In this light, COSCA had adopted community-based disaster risk reduction and management (CBDRRM) approach to equip the community with proper knowledge and skills, and to strengthen linkage with other stakeholders. Under the Sustainable Development Goals Localization Project of DLSU, COSCA initially conducted DRRM training needs assessment of the seven (7) partner communities/Barangays in Leveriza, District 5, City of Manila to identity level of priorities. This aimed at the following: a) determine the level of knowledge and awareness of the Barangays/communities; and b) Identify areas of intervention and prioritization. A total of sixty nine (69) respondents with varying positions in the Barangay Council and community members participated in the DRRM training needs assessment. 

We partnered with the Center for Disaster Preparedness, a well-known non-government organization that has been raising capacities of different communities across the Philippines. This partnership will bring forth significant impact to the identified communities in Manila.

De La Salle University (DLSU) in partnership with local universities and schools from the ASEAN region are currently preparing for several Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) learning session events this 2016.


This May, DLSU together with Ateneo de Manila (ADMU) and Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) will host the University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific (UMAP) Camp. This Philippine leg is themed as “Building Environmental & Cultural Awareness in the Asia Pacific Region". Discussions and Structured Learning Exercises will revolve around topics on Climate Change, Climate Resiliency and Culture. One highlight of this activity is an environmental trip to Talim Bay, Lian, Batangas to showcase the Mangrove Forest Restoration Activities in the area and allow direct participation of the ASEAN students in planting selected Mangrove species. Ultimately, the event, hopes to teach the students critical the link between conserving Mangroves and Climate Resiliency in the coastal communities.   


Another activity, jointly implemented by DLSU, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), University of the Philippines (UP) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and in partnership with Buklod Tao and Simbahan Lingkod ng Bayan to be held two weeks in August, will bring in 50 ASEAN students. The event is anchored on two objectives, one is to help the participants understand the different DRRM concepts using both global and local perspectives and the other, is to expose these same students to the DRRM realities in San Mateo (Rizal) and Payatas (Quezon City). Hopefully, these sessions will encourage the ASEAN participants to conceptualize a related project in their home countries.


Another event, this time in November and still organized by the same schools hope to bring in a total of 300 ASEAN faculty participants at the SM MOA to learn and share experiences in not only DRRM but also in other thematic areas of Community Engagement as well.

School staff helping in the relief efforts
School staff helping in the relief efforts

Typhoon Lando lashed several provinces in the Philippines last November 26, 2015 and left a total of 733,152 affected families in Regions I, II, II, IV-A, IV-B, and CAR. Over 130,000 houses were destroyed and more than 11 billion worth of infrastructure and agriculture were damaged1.

In response to the call for help, the Center for Social Concern and Action of DLSU participated in the emergency relief efforts together with De La Salle Zobel and La Salle Greenhills to help affected families in Casiguran, Aurora and various areas in Nueva Ecija. Further, the DLSU community was able to raise Php 20,000 cash donations.Relief items were extended to the Anti-APECO Farmers Group and Indigenous Groups in Casiguran Aurora as well as affected families in municipalities of Gabaldon, Jaen, and Laur in Nueva Ecija.

In light with the post-typhoon Lando, COSCA together with other La Salle Schools and De La Salle Philippines will conduct its validation activity in preparation for rehabilitation and recovery prospects, particularly in Casiguran, Aurora.

Student volunteers joining the relief operations
Student volunteers joining the relief operations
Disaster resiliency challenges in Brgy 717, Manila
Disaster resiliency challenges in Brgy 717, Manila

De La Salle University (DLSU) is also conducting a series of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) activities in 7 pilot barangays in District 5, Manila. This is part of an umbrella initiative of the University on the Localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for its partner communities.


Related to this, last July 30, 2015 as the Metro Manila Shake Drill is being simulated in preparation for the “Big One” (West Valley Fault line), Barangay 717 together with the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA), also conducted their community-based shake drill through the participation of

parents, children, and Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (BDRRMC).


Barangay Captain Victoriano Barbosa and his council members sought COSCA’s expertise as well as the Manila CDRRMO in the preparing for the event. Activities include video showing, demonstration on how to do “duck, cover, and hold”, and presentation of “go bag” concept and its importance.

Local official explaining preparedness
Local official explaining preparedness
Report author input on DRRM
Report author input on DRRM
Awareness building through video presentation
Awareness building through video presentation

The De La Salle University Gokongwei College of Engineering (DLSU GCOE) is undertaking as part of its institutional Community Engagement, the Lasallian Engineers for God and Country (LEGACY) Project. Its major objectives are the following: to allow the students to practice their field of specialization based on the needs of the partner communities; venue for knowledge and intellectual exchange among other engineering fields; to develop the expertise and the sense of professionalism; and enhance the culture of service using the field of engineering.

As a response to the incident in Leyte in 2013 where the super typhoon Yolanda took thousands of lives and caused enormous damage to properties, a composite team from LEGACY was formed. The focus of this group is to provide basic assistance to priority communities in Leyte with the help and network of DLSP (De La Salle Philippines) in the form of information, education and campaign (IEC) on disaster risk reduction. Priority Communities Recipient of the project are Barangay San Miguel located in the Municipality of Dulag and Barangay Diit in Tacloban City, Leyte.

Members of the team include the following: Dr. Leonila Abella, Dr. Susan Gallardo, Dr. Mario de Leon, Ms. Kathlene Marie Gaurana, Stephanie Denise Suarez, Mr. Louise Patrick Pambid, Kevin John Lee, and Ezekiel Bernardo.

Based on an assessment conducted during an earlier visit, the team found out that the two communities are not resilient against various hazards of earthquake, extreme wind, storms, tsunami and flood among others. These were supported by their observations during the reconnaissance survey which highlights the following; (1) lack of community awareness in disaster risk resilience practices in the grassroots level (barangay), (2) vulnerable structural typologies in the form of makeshift houses built on hazardous area (beach front), and (3) lack of integration of DRR principles as perceived in the city government on its application and policy making.

The highlight of this particular CE intervention is the mapping of their critical infrastructure with the support of the CE department led by Engr. Jason Maximino Ongpeng, Drs. Maricel Paringit, Lessandro Estelito Garciano and Mario de Leon.

Dr. Paringit generated seven (7) maps consisting of Barangay Diit Administrative Map, Fault Line, Liquefaction Susceptibility, Storm Surge, MGB Flood Susceptibility, MGB Landslide Susceptibility, Waterways and Roads. These maps were made as basis of identifying four specific workshop activities that will be implemented by the two priority communities, to wit; (1) Location of Lifeline Support Structures/Facilities (2) Validation of Position/Location of Waterways and Roads, (3) Validation of Landslide and Flood Susceptibility Data (4) Structural Typologies of Houses and Soil Condition.

Dr. De Leon presented the initial activities of reading and interpreting the maps and the validation of data which are the plans of action that the two communities will have to perform in preparation for the design of their disaster management activities. The activity ended with a short presentation of initial findings and results of the field survey.

The generated maps were donated to Barangay Diit with the intention to use these in the information and education dissemination in the barangays and to continue the work on validation of data.

The DRR presentation and workshop activities were first-hand experience by the participants on community engagement with academic institution and exposure on use the GPS equipment and field survey. They recognized the importance of reading and understanding maps, interpreting what the maps convey and the validation of data useful in disaster risk reduction management.


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Organization Information

De La Salle University

Location: Manila, NCR - Philippines
Project Leader:
Lourdes Melegrito
Director, Center for Social Concern and Action
Manila, National Capital Region Philippines

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