Junket of Doom

Even as the President departed, the Inquirer editorial had already called her trip a Most useless junket. Her trip, will be followed up, incidentally, by another trip to the States, scheduled in September, practically on the eve of the American presidential elections.

My column for today is Bitter fruits of disaster. The growing number of middle class Filipinos who’ve avoiding watching local news and reading the papers had their equanimity disturbed by yet another home-grown tragedy going global. See the Agence France Presse story, Hundreds feared dead after Philippine ferry sinks. The latest is More survivors in Philippine ferry sinking:

Twenty-eight passengers from a capsized passenger ferry were reported alive in the central Philippines on Monday but more than 800 remain missing after the ship sank during a typhoon.

The survivors made it to a small coastal village after drifting at sea for more than 24 hours in a rubber boat, radio dzBB reported. Two others originally on board the life raft drowned in large swells.

The discovery raises the number of survivors to 32. Four people were confirmed dead on Sunday.

First, a correction to my column: at 11 pm last night, long after the deadline for my article, Dick Gordon told me personally he hadn’t left for the States, because he saw the disaster coming. Good for him and the Red Cross. Scriptorium points out an entry in la ciudadista that identifies where to give donations, in cash or kind, for typhoon relief, and adds,

…the [DSWD] has designated Petron gas stations for receiving non-perishable goods. Basic needs come first: used clothes, canned goods, rice, bottled water, instant noodles, sleeping mats/banig, cash donations. Let us all please help the victims as much as we can.

You can donate to the Red Cross online, click the Donate Now link on its website.

The President is being taken to task for going to America even as devastation had already been wrought by the typhoon in Mindanao and it was plowing through the Visayas. The criticism has gotten more intense as the death toll mounts. ‘Frank’ aftermath no reason for Arroyo to cut US trip – Palace goes the official response, and the President has taken to teleconferencing as a way to prove she’s doing something.

In my column, I pointed out that PAGASA’s being off the mark in its predictions has pissed off a lot of people. And at first, this was the main bone of contention concerning the typhoon. See Faulty Weather Pronouncements of PAGASA, which I mentioned in my column. The Inquirer’s front page today shows PAGASA’s path prediction for the typhoon (in yellow-orange), and the actual path it took (in red):

20080623.jpg

See Milking The Cash Cow to see how the PAGASA website wasn’t functioning particularly well when people needed information the most. This was also pointed out by The Dusk Chronicles who also remarked on how people weren’t really prepared for the storm hitting Metro Manila (hat tip: Global Voices). One thing I did hear a lot from people, though, yesterday (as people end up doing what they usually do, which is trading notes on disasters) is that many found maybagyo.com very useful. See its updates page.

Other entries I found useful concerned the devastation in Iloilo (Eastern Visayas loses close to P900M in crops, infra), see The Trojan Bore who pointed to view from the sugar island:

People are desperately seeking help and are stuck in the rooftops, INEPT GOVERNMENT NO.1 will send help INSTANTLY RIGHT? NO, HELP WILL ARRIVE TOMORROW OUR OFFICIALS NEED THEIR BEAUTY SLEEP. Supplies and rescue boats (THAT ARE REALLY NEEDED RIGHT NOW BY RESCUE TEAMS) will arrive tomorrow in Iloilo at 6:00 am via C-130. Congratulations, your ineptitude is world-class.

What will they rescue tomorrow? I don’t know. Maybe it is to give the press a chance to cover their heroics. Reports say there is a danger of hypothermia hitting the flood victims and that is why time is of the essence. I’m hearing the flood in some areas is subsiding. Hopefully it is true. The rescue efforts are being made difficult by the darkness and lack of EQUIPMENT. As I type, flood victims stuck in the rooftops are asking for help through SMS to be rescued.

Iloilo.jpg

Local officials know they’re getting hammered by public opinion. I heard Vice-Governor Rolex Suplico on the radio yesterday afternoon sounding frustrated over the delayed arrival of a C-130 transport plane from Cebu; obviously even if the provincial government had emergency stockpiles of equipment and food, the scale of the flooding and damage wrought by the typhoon would have overwhelmed local resources.

A harrowing account from the scene comes from Confessions of the Mind and Heart:

Saturday, June 21 I woke up early and had my dad drive me to Ventus to finish some work. We came across the Jaro river where we usually get the sign if flood will occur. So far it was in its normal level and dad said he will just call in case…

It was not after 1 hour when dad called that the siren is all over the place which warned the people in Tabuc Suba Jaro to prepare for the flood. I’m on a hurry to go home so I asked the assistance of nong Ruel to give me a ride home and minutes later mom texted me not to go home anymore. When we passed by Jaro, the van can no longer penetrate the water.

I decided to meet Jet at Robinsons Mall. The water is all over the place and I started to panic. He was there waiting for me. I can’t help myself not to cry. I’m worried about my family back home. My brother’s in Capiz and ufortunatley he can’t go home coz it’s signal number 3 in that place. I stayed with Jet the whole night hoping that tomorrow I can go home.

I’m getting more worried when I can’t contact them already. jet and I went back to Ventus Sunday morning hoping I could get a chance to contact them since the whole city is black out, Ventus is just the only place who has reserved electricity.

Still I can’t contact them. The landline’s just ringing. I had the thought that the water reached the telephone line. So I decided to go to Jaro and check out the situation. We reached Jaro, I was with my cousin and Jet. We walked from Jaro bridge down Bankers Village. Seeing the whole place was a disaster. The Brgy Hall was full of refugees lining up to get some food from a truck with donations. Jetskies and motorboats were parked in the sideways, cars were also parked on the side og the bridge and sidewalks. We passed by Iloilo Supermart and it was all damaged. the water entered the store and the glass door broke. I can’t imagine how an elevated place was reached by water. We came near Quintin Salas and saw some cars been thrown away in the vacant lot.. I saw our car parked in outside the building beside the village and it’s drowned. I saw mud inside and it’s oil spilled out.

We entered Bankers and the current of the water is so strong I just can’t lift my feet. Jet and my cousin were pulling me to my feet. We reached home at last. I saw the mansions with crached fences, and muddy furnitures. All light posts and telephone lines are dead and were actually down. And my house, it’s all chocoloate covered mud!!! I saw my helpers shoveling the mud out of our gate. Dad approached us teary eyed saying that “Guba gid ya balay ta, wala gid ko nag expektar na amu ni matabo” (It’s all damaged. I didn’t expect this to happen).

See iloilo flood 2008 photos at trigo26’s Flickr account.

Matters can only have been compounded by the perpetually ad hoc nature of emergency response measures, and how nothing really functions unless the big bosses are around the lean on their subordinates. It’s only been a few weeks since the national government came in for strong criticism over its sluggish handling of the typhoon damage to Pangasinan. And yet it was only yesterday that NDCC convenes in wake of ‘Frank’.

This basic reality of what passes for government management in our country, helps explain why whatever the President does, there really is no substitute for her being here, and for her subordinates being here, either. You’d think that our officials, who’ve borrowed so many pages from the Republican playbook, would have learned the lessons taught by Bush’s plummeting in the ratings because of his response to Hurricane Katrina.

Closer to home (see pictures in TheBachelorGirl), another point I raised was courtesy of the age of brillig:

According to the 10:30 p.m. bulletin from PAGASA, Typhoon Fengshen (i.e., Frank) had altered course and is now projected to pass over Metro Manila at around 5:00 a.m., or 5 hours from the time I write this. Its not good that this bulletin came out after many Metro Manila residents have gone to bed, especially since the storm is expected to hit while most of Metro Manila is sleeping.

Urban poor areas in Manila hardest hit by floods presents a political Catch-22 for local governments, too: humanitarian considerations, and the responsibilities of leadership, requires mayors and governors to dissuade residents from rebuilding in areas notoriously flood-prone (I have read many press accounts from the past, in which local and national leaders intervened, by force if necessary, to prevent residents from rebuilding in areas proven to be disaster-prone, but that was then); but to do so now would mean alienating manageable votes. So nothing will be done, which only means the casualties will pile up the next time, but perhaps not before the next elections.

DSC00012#2.JPG

I took this photo some time ago, precisely for a blog entry I intended to write, on the crumbling infrastructure of the metropolis. This rant in The Personal Blog of David Gonzales reminded me of the point I wanted to raise, concerning electrical lines. You only have to look at the scary state of the electrical lines, particularly in older neighborhoods or congested urban areas, to understand why there can be such a thing as systems losses, but more importantly, how every day that ends represents a kind of miracle.

In the wake of the typhoon, fires broke out because of voltage fluctuations but the exploding transformers and downed poles and lines simply demonstrates that whatever infrastructure we have is basically kept functioning by means of patchwork and sheer luck.

Returning to the (rather frantic) efforts of the President to appear to be doing something, there’s the already-famous tongue-lashing (portions of which were published by RG Cruz) the President gave the head of the Coast Guard as news broke of the sinking of the Suplicio Lines vessel. The limits of technology were demonstrated when it took some time for the President and the Coast Guard commander to get on the same page, and eventually, the media were led out of the room to spare the officials further embarrassment.

In another blog entry, RG Cruz recounts how officials were subsequently summoned to the Palace at 1 a.m. so that the President could teleconference with them and exhibit her officials to Filipinos in the USA. Along the way, he publishes the transcript of another tongue-lashing, this time, of a Sulpicio Lines official, and again, at the hands of the President:

[VP de Castro]: mr go, how about the condition of the ship, how old is the ship[?]

[Mr. Go]: the ship was 24-year-old passenger ship, it passed all the maritime requirements it has all the certificate, updated certificate […]

[VP de Castro]: what are you doing now to help the passengers[?]

[Mr. Go]: our company has committed to compensate to the victims and bring them to their home town, whatever expenses our company will take care of, all expenses […]

[The President]: im just looking at the guidelines (gap) policy general … if any vessel is scheduled to depart and the operator of the vessel should study carefully the typhoon movement to ensure that the vessel will not be within the area directly affected by the typhoon signals 1, 2, 3 and 4 within the danger sector until they reach their destination. so hindi totoo yung sinasabi mong walang prohibition, nadito yun sa guidelines ninyo[…]

and then furthermore number 3, no vessel shall sail except to take shelter if public storm signal warning is hoisted in the point of origin, the route, and the point of destination, so it’s not true what you said yesterday that there are no absolute prohibitions, there are.

Cruz says Go said compensation will be given, since passengers are insured, anyway, to the tune of 200,000 pesos per person. So perhaps if you were to add up the costs of following safety regulations, and balance those costs out with the costs of a one-time cash pay-out in the case of a disaster, the company still comes out ahead.

The President demonstrated her particular gifts -for detail, and for putting subordinates on the spot- both in terms of the Coast Guard and with the Sulpicio Lines official.

She has also unleashed a torrent of directives:

The directives were: (1) Congress to certify a bill that would consider rice hoarding and profiteering as economic sabotage with disaster as aggravating circumstance; (2) state of calamity should include imposing maximum rice price and giving decent return for farmers/traders, plus wholesale of hoarded rice;

(3) announce government aid for ferry disaster victims or families; (4) pending review of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) protocols so that no vessel sails if it would pass possible typhoon path; (5) assign an NDCC official at Sulpicio Lines to get and release information on victims;

(6) embassies in the US, Europe and Middle East should open disaster relief donation accounts plus NDCC account website or text number; (7) National Telecommunications Co. (NTC) and Philippine Information Agency (PIA) should help ensure NDCC site to be able to work amid high traffic.

However, what will register with the public is that she’s abroad.

Ferry Sinking.jpg

The sinking shocked the nation. Tingog.com, who has been a passenger on Sulpicio and other steamship lines, says the ship should never have sailed in the first place:

This is a wide ranging generalization, but I have experienced it first hand to know, that there are many many times, where both coast guard inspectors and the ship captain, have turned a blind eye to procedure.

In many instances, it is the coziness of those in the passenger ship industry, as well as those who provide oversight to this industry, that has made such tragedies possible.

I’ve been a passenger not only to Sulpicio Lines, but to many other companies as well. There are a lot of blame to go around here, for Sulpicio Lines, they definitely should always heed the warning signals, even if a direct hit on their travel path is not expected. To the coast guard, to the inspectors, to the government, who must ensure that these boats leave dock inspected, with proper amount of passengers, and by also erring on the side of caution as they should always monitor any chance of a slight weather complication.

One thing is clear, the ship should never have departed, and that is, I’m afraid to say, the fault of the coast guard, and whoever made that decision must pay, either held administratively liable, criminally liable, or both. As for now, I’m not really sure if the criminal aspect of it is a worthy pursuit, but in all actuality this was negligence which could have cost our nation hundreds of innocent lives.

At Midfield asks how Sulpicio Lines manages to even stay in business:

Yes, this is the same company that owned the MV Dona Paz whose sinking in December 1987 is considered the world’s worst ferry disaster and the worst peace-time maritime disaster in history with the official death count at 1,565. Survivors claim the overloaded ferry carried up to 4,000. In October 24, 1988, the sinking of still another of Sulpicio Lines ferry, the MV Doña Marilyn reportedly killed over 600 people… The now customary apology, incredible as it is, has come from Sulpicio Lines with the hollow promise to help the victims. No comfort. We know that to this day the damage claims of the earlier victims in the Dona Paz and MV Marilyn tragedies are locked in court. One wonders how and why a shipping company like this continues to operate given its woeful record of sinking ships, and stealng the lives of it hapless passengers. They are left only to light candles and wail. In other countries people would have long expressed outrage by putting such firms to the torch.

Indeed if left only to the tender mercies of market forces, disasters alone might not be enough to kill off negligent steamship companies: what killed off the White Star Line wasn’t the sinking of the Titanic, it was the Great Depression, which forced its merger with main rival, Cunard. But then again Sulpicio Lines has probably set a world record as the most ill-fated steamship company in history. (update) Reading Alternation101‘s link to a Reuters article, Sulpicio Lines seems to have given the White Star Line a run for its money in the Unfortunate Trio of Sister Ships Department. White Star had Titanic, Olympic, and Britannic, and Sulpicio had two Donas: Paz and Marilyn, and their other sister ship, the Princess of the Orient!

Daily Musings has a bone to pick with ABS-CBN for showing video of corpses (what about the Inquirer photo of a corpse, displayed Pieta-style, on its front page?) .

A sprinkling of bloggers’ reactions to the typhoon, from Punzi’s Corner and Coffee with Amee being disgruntled over the President’s absence, to the interesting tandem of Touched by an Angel and The Warrior Lawyer giving a (literally) Mom and Pop view of the storm.

DSC00050.JPGToday is my father’s 82nd birth anniversary, and as a token of remembrance let me put forward two of his essays: Our undemocratic mentality from January 11, 1967 and The meaning of equality from January 25, 1967.

109 comments

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  1. This was the claim of PAGASA dated June 8, 2007.

    http://ricojr.wordpress.com/2007/06/08/%e2%80%98rp-one-of-the-best-in-weather-forecasting%e2%80%99/

    Frank proved them wrong a year later.

    http://duskfading.wordpress.com

    • mlq3 on June 24, 2008 at 1:09 pm
      Author

    UPn, from what I gather from the radio reports, bodies have been discovered trapped inside the capsized ship -and some survivors say the order to abandon ship came as the ship was already foundering. i don’t know if knowing how to swim would have helped many passengers at that point.

    details here:

    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20080624-144447/Bodies-seen-inside-ship-as-divers-enter-2-recovered–PCG

    http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/topofthehour.aspx?StoryId=122824

    • TheColdKing on June 24, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    ALL LIFE BEGAN IN THE SEA, NOW THEIR LIVES RETURN TO THE SEA… THE SEA IS MOTHER, MAY THEY REST IN PEACE IN HER EMBRACE FOREVER…

    • mikel on June 24, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    to MIG3. GMA is the president, not you; it is the successes of her gov’t. that has generated millions of jobs and investments to the country. certainly her gov’t has it’s faults. but my reaction is based on tangible evidence and not blinded loyalties of anti gma gangs of which you are a cardholding member.

    i’ll give her credit for what she has achieved for this country and blast her for her inadequacies. that’s certainly more moral & christian than any of you. that’s not kneejerk defense.

    i trust that GMA has taken this trip to among other things, ensure the veteran bill is signed before the end of the bush admin., negotiate cheaper rice supplies, lobby for the country with the MCB and meet political & economic leaders. why not?

    • mabini on June 24, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Could the mishap be avoided?

    I checked the previous US JTWC’s warnings on Typhoon Fengshen (Frank) beginning on June 19 to 21, 2008 from U.S. Navy’s website (http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/tc_bin/tc_home2):

    June 19, 2008 (1800) – Warning 6 (wp072008.08061918) – The typhoon will hit Eastern Samar on June 20 at 6 am then it will move north and exit Catanduanes (June 21) back to Philippine Sea/Pacific Ocean.
    June 20, 2008 (0000) – Warning 7 (wp072008.0806200) – Typhoon path is the same as Warning 6.
    June 20, 2008 (0600) – Warning 8 (wp072008.08062000) – JTWC has made a significant change in their prediction of the path of the typhoon. It will now traverse Samar Island then to Masbate, Marinduque on June 20-21 and to Quezon Province by June 21 (6 pm) and Metro Manila and Central Luzon. Maximum wave height 20 ft and wind of 75kts to 90 kts.
    June 20, 2008 (1200) – Warning 9 (wp072008.08062006) – After landfall in Samar island, the subsequent path of the typhoon was adjusted. The typhoon will be at Masbate by June 20 (12 noon) then the vicinity of Romblon/Marinduque on June 21 (00 am) passing Batangas (12 noon) and Metro Manila by June 22 (00). Maximum wave height 18 ft and wind of 80 kts to 105 kts.
    (Note: wp (number) indicates the “.gif” file of the JTWC Warning)

    JTWC issued their warning every 6 hours with their subsequent warnings (June 20, 2008 (1800) – Warning 10 (wp072008.08062012); June 21, 2008 (0000) – Warning 11 (wp072008.0806210); June 21, 2008 (0600) – Warning 12 (wp072008.08062100)) being significant also to forewarn PAGASA, Coast Guard, Sulpicio Lines and Marina of the typhoon’s path. Accessing hourly the websites of other weather stations like JTWC (US), JMA (Japan), etc. to know of their weather forecast should have been part of the protocol of our government agencies regulating maritime and shipping and also by shipping companies rather than relying solely on PAGASA.

    • dana on June 24, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    To add to the Dona Paz in 1987, Dona Marilyn in 1988, Princess of the Orient in 1998, and Princess of the Stars in 2008, another Sulpicio-owned ship that sank was the M/V Don Juan in 1980. 400 died in that tragedy.

    • anne on June 24, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I wish Filipinos would stop blaming Pag-asa. The agency is doing its best under the circumstances. I was watching TV and reading the internet and I remember Pag-Asa correcting its initial forecasts. They issued a warning about the eye of Typhoon Frank passing near Manila at least six hours before.

    Weather prediction is not an exact science. When Hurricane Katrina hit, US forecasters also had difficulty figuring out its precise path. The storm kept changing its track. At best, they could give a few hours’ notice.

    The JWTC was also way off in its initial forecasts for Frank. So was CNN, and the CNN weather reporter was discussing it.

    http://www.accuweather.com/mt-news-blogs.asp?blog=community&pgUrl=/mtweb/content/weathermatrix/archives/2008/06/phillipines_typhoon_anatomy_of_a_forecast_bust.asp

    http://www.accuweather.com/mt-news-blogs.asp?partner=accuweather&blog=Weathermatrix&pgurl=/mtweb/content/Weathermatrix/archives/2008/06/failed_forecast_facilitated_fengshen_flooding_fotos.asp

    • mlq3 on June 24, 2008 at 4:14 pm
      Author

    mikel, you’re welcome to poke around here and see how the “tangible evidence” has been disputed, particularly by the president’s fellow economists.

    at the heart of your assertion is a blind loyalty of your own -that you trust her, that you are assured the objectives she has set out are achievable both now and in september when she returns to the USA are achievable and deserve the resources being devoted to them. that is her call and whether she can accomplish them or not is helped by the fact that failure can always be blamed on her gambling on a lame duck administration being able to deliver in Washington.

    you cannot separate her trip from the context of american politics at present. it’s an election year, and one that will be particularly ferocious; and it’s one where the present us administration is fast losing its ability to get what it wants from congress.

    • anne on June 24, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    media may refer to as) a spectacularly inaccurate forecast this week from the Computer Forecast Models [JessePedia], and that was that Typhoon Fengshen (Frank) would miss the Philippines.

    On Wednesday at 5 PM, we issued this map in an electronic press release and (I assume) on AccuWeather.com as a Weather Headlines (PREMIUM | PRO):

    The press release stated:

    This storm is in its initial stages but has a chance to become a typhoon over the weekend. The future track of the storm will take it away from the Philippines.

    This was all based on what is generally referred to as the “Navy” or “JTWC (Joint Typhoon Warning Center” forecast, which (I think) usually does a good job forecaster international hurricanes, and which we would normally have no reason to not believe. Their map at 7 PM Wednesday still looked like this (presumably* it was further east before that).

    SO HOW FAR OFF WAS THE FORECAST?

    Who among us knows the geography of the Philippines as much as the hurricane-prone regions of the United States. Certainly I do not. So I used Google Earth to help me find out. The Wednesday evening forecast appeared to be off by about 4 degrees of longitude.

    Comparing the Philippines to Florida, that would be the equivalent of placing the storm well off the coast, versus onshore 36 hours in advance (or placing it in the Gulf vs. in the Atlantic at a particular time).

    I don’t recall off the top of my head how many U.S. hurricane forecasts have been that far off 36 hours in the future, but I’m sure it has happened. Probably not a lot – although models bounce hurricanes around quite a bit in the long-range forecasts, they usually have it more or less pinned down by 36 hours out (which is good because evacuations can take that long). It’s possible that the lack of high-resolution models in the Pacific led to this bad forecast. It’s also possible that the JTWC forecast favored a particular model, such as the GFS, or their own Navy model (the NOGAPS) and they stuck with it until the bitter end (both were still forecasting non-landfalls yesterday morning, click here to download movies of their forecasts from 12Z yesterday and 00Z today).

    WHY WAS THE FORECAST SO FAR OFF?

    Because I don’t forecast for that part of the Earth, I don’t have any specific insights as to what went wrong here. But as I’ve said before, hurricane/typhoon prediction (and really, the prediction of any low pressure system) depends on how it gets caught in between the cogs (circulations) of other high and low pressure systems. If one of those is weaker or stronger than the models thought, it can make a big difference in the track of the storm (ever seen “Plinko” on the Price Is Right? Try that, but have the size of the pegs dynamically change.)

    WHAT DO YOU THINK?

    Is this a huge bust or normal forecast variability? Would the forecast have been better with better models? Should the Navy have acted faster on the westward model swing? Should we have been more independent from their forecast? Post a Comment below to let me know. I hope you appreciate me bringing this forecast error into the light and not trying to hide it — and I’m not blaming the Navy, they were using the same models that we all have.

    • mlq3 on June 24, 2008 at 4:48 pm
      Author

    KG, president wasn’t shy about lobbying for brenda:

    http://www.rgcruz.com/?p=744

    • mabini on June 24, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Its Pagasa’s job to make sure that its typhoon forecasts are reliable and if cannot be sure of it, they should have advised the Coast Guard or Marina of the erratic movement of the typhoon (Inquirer, June 23). Just like any taxpayers, we expect Pagasa to be more resourceful, accurate and reliable in their forecasts.
    Just what happened to princess of the stars, hundreds of lives were lost. The Coast Guard would have not let the ship sail if not for Pagasa’s hoisting of Signal No. 1 in Metro Manila. In this kind of situation, there should have been close coordination between Pagasa and Coast Guard or Marina and shipping companies.
    Excusing Pagasa would not make them realize that they have responsibility to those who rely on their pronouncements.

    • PSimeon on June 24, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    True, Pagasa may have made a forecasting error this time. But they did remarkably well in the past.

    The dismal record of the ships of Sulpico Lines is unforgivable though.

    • grd on June 24, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    dana, M/V Don Juan was owned by Negros Navigation not Sulpicio lines.

    my prayers for those who perished and to the bereaved families.

    • Jeg on June 24, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Miriam to the UN? Im all for it!

    The Coast Guard would have not let the ship sail if not for Pagasa’s hoisting of Signal No. 1 in Metro Manila.

    Ummmm.. the ship wasnt staying in Metro Manila. It was sailing to Cebu.

    • KG on June 24, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    We will also be meeting with officials from the United Nations about issues related to food security and to champion the candidacy of Senator Santiago to the Court of Justice. No trip to New York is complete without meeting with our strong and lively OFW community there.

    thanks mlq!

    what can I say? Ay naku, akala ko pa naman mag cheer sila kay Paquiao.

    • ben on June 24, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    mabini, that’s why it’s called typhoon FORECAST, because it’s not 100 percent accurate. A forecast made 6 hours before is more accurate than one made 24 or 36 hours prior.

    • Bencard on June 24, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    mlq3, “knee-jerk” defense? what about knee-jerk attack? every punch deserves a counter punch. there’s no need for defense where there is no offense. when the final bell rings, the judge (the people) decides who is right.

  2. mlq3,
    those are not news. those are political opinions.

    • UP n student on June 24, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    to mlq3: In no way, shape or form was my comment about “drownproofing” or swimming lessons meant for anything other than a reminder — taking drownproofing lessons makes sense. The idea is not mine — I saw it about 4 or 5 years ago from another webpage which made the observation of a deadly oddity — (author had made an informal survey and concluded that) the Philippines with its many islands and notorious for killing maritime disasters has a citizenry that does not know how to swim or have even taken drownproofing lessons. Also that the maritime disasters occurred within 9 km of shore (Princess of Stars was less than 2 km from shore). Yes, those caught in an indoor cabin when Princes of Stars capsized within 15 minutes after alarm was rang — may they rest in peace. And those who may have been saved had the crew helped them put on lifejackets, may they too rest in peace. But there are a few who did survive, e.g. Carlo Jason Arrabis, a 22-year-old nursing graduate. He was among those who managed to clamber aboard a life raft before it capsized, forcing the people who had crowded inside to swim for shore. Not everyone made it.

    Drownproofing lessons may give a 5-year old an extra 50%-chance surviving if the accident was in a swimming pool. Drownproofing may only give a 20%-edge if one fell overboard from a Manila-to-Corregidor ferry on a calm day, and only 1% during a Typhoon Frank / Princess Stars mishap. but knowing how to swim is a fun skill all in itself. If you have a niece or nephew who has gotten bored with video games, then along with bicycle-riding, teach them to swim.

    • cvj on June 24, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    UPn, that comment about swimming lessons belongs to same league as ‘Let them eat cake‘.

    • mikel on June 24, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    mig3: what blind loyalty are you talking about? when i said “i trust”, i meant that the fruits of her trip to the US will be revealed in more detail upon her return. and i recognize the fact, too, that negotiations don’t always produce instant results, i.e. it took time to secure the investments of TI & hanjin. it took personal efforts by GMA to secure investments by Dubai Holdings. as far as the tangible evidence of economic success, look around you. i don’t need anyone to tell me the progress of the philippines these last 7 years. and the progress of the ramos admin. that’s the point! am not a GMA fanatic. but i know when things work. i’ll give credit to her for her achievements. do i think the ZTE deal stinks? you bet i do! but that’s another story.

    • supremo on June 24, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    cvj,
    ‘13% to 22% of what?’

    JTWC models (they use several) are usually off by 500 nautical miles on a 5 day forecast and 200 nautical miles on a 3 day forcast. It is up to the meteorologist to choose which models to combine for a more accurate foracast.

    • cvj on June 24, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Thanks Supremo, i understand that to be represented by the shaded area in the forecast map.

    • Bencard on June 24, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    upn, right on the money. there’s no excuse for island people to not know how to swim, or at least, float in the water. it has become a fad to climb mt. everest. everybody is agog about manny pacquiao’s boxing prowess. but have we produced any world-class swimmer who earned a significant medal?

    cvj, another apple and orange analogy. among the few kids who know how to swim are children of “poor” farmers who live by the riverbanks in the provinces. i learned to swim in flood waters while vacationing with my grandparents in nueva ecija near the bongabong river. learning to swim is not the exclusive privilege of the wealthy, never has been, never will be.

    • cvj on June 25, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Bencard, that analogy was not meant to convey that learning to swim is the exclusive privilege of the wealthy although i can see how you would interpret it that way.

    • Bencard on June 25, 2008 at 12:49 am

    so, stop talking in riddles, cvj. not everybody is “intellectual” here like you. what exactly do you mean by “let them eat cake” vis a vis learning how to swim?

    • BrianB on June 25, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Just love this bit from Trojan Bore:

    “Based on the DZMM reports, Panay Island appears to have been quite badly hit (no word yet about Boracay).”

    So concerned about Boracay and no mention of Guimaras, the traditional buffer of Iloilo for typhoons, and a province in its own right and officially of course.

    • cvj on June 25, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Bencard, suggesting swimming lessons given the gravity of the situation faced by the doomed passengers, as Manolo explained above (at 1:09 pm), is out of place. IMO, nakakaasiwa.

    • Bencard on June 25, 2008 at 2:04 am

    cvj, your “brilliant” eat-cake analogy is still out of sync. kalayo naman. the tragedy is a fact and cannot be put back in the bottle. what can be done are basic measures to help minimize future tragedies. what’s wrong with that? kung naasiwa ka, problema mo yan.

    • cvj on June 25, 2008 at 2:34 am

    Bencard, you’re most welcome.

    Several months back, four Singaporean dragon boat athletes drowned in a river in Cambodia when the boat they were competing in capsized and they got trapped underneath a floating platform. All of them were able bodied swimmers but that did not help them. So how would knowing how to swim help when you’re trapped under a capsized ship? Recommending swimming lessons, while good in itself, is a slap in the face of the families of the victims.

    • supremo on June 25, 2008 at 4:10 am

    The Philippine Maritime officials should consider creating shorter shipping routes. Short trips like Batangas to Mindoro then passengers will take a bus to the southern end of Mindoro. It’s about time that Neri’s nautical highway is put to the test. No more long trips like Manila to any points in the Visayas and Mindanao and vice versa.

    • Bencard on June 25, 2008 at 4:29 am

    cvj, dream on. what are you “welcoming” me for? don’t tell me you also naively take an irony for a compliment.

    how can it be a slap on the families of the victims? the suggestion is for the living, not the dead. if they take offense, that’s unfortunate. i don’t think upn meant to disrespect them by making the suggestion.

    re the singaporean athletes, not every drowning victims in the philippines died because they were trapped under a boat. in case you don’t know, many drowning incidents aren’t necessarily caused by, or in connection with, a capsized ship.

    • UP n student on June 25, 2008 at 5:16 am

    cvj: I actually know why many Pinoys are non-swimmers. The schools do not push it (no swimming pools); there are no boys club/girls club organizations within which to learn it, and it really is a cultural thing (that there are no swimmer-heroes in the Philippine folklore or current events. Boxers-yes; swimmers-no; simming is not one of the top-5-skills important to Pinoys). I nearly drowned at age 8 (crossing a Laguna river) yet my parents still did not drownproof me immediately after despite my mom being an excellent swimmer who learned her skills in that same river I nearly died in. But discard this “swimming is a cultural thing” because, really, most everyone should have been given a chance to take swimming lessons if only boys/girls clubs or church-organizations were better funded.

    cvj: I am recommending swim lessons to you and to any of your friends or acquaintances whether or not you may be riding a ferry in the next 10 years (in the Visayas, to Tasmania or to Santorini). And seriously…. this IS as good a time as any to encourage your nephews and nieces in Pinas to add swimming to their skills. I am not asking you to eat cake!

    • BrianB on June 25, 2008 at 5:43 am

    I dunno how to swim. Momma afraid I’d drown if i learnt, honestly.

    • Bencard on June 25, 2008 at 6:10 am

    upn, re “swimming is a cultural thing”, do you ever wonder why there are no black (even african-american) swimming champions?

    • leytenian on June 25, 2008 at 6:23 am

    most children and adults who live in the islands can swim. I don’t know anyone in my hometown who cannot swim. The endurance and physical strength of thse natural swimmers are not conditioned enough to swim along or against the waves and mentally educated enough to avoid fear and panic. the life jacket can help even to non swimmers. training video and other educational materials during disaster must be added to our school system.( cheap way of implementing risk prevention). This plan will minimize the loss of lives , minimize government costs and minimize the emotional trauma of the family members and to the rest of the people in the Philipines and the world. I agree with UP N …

    • leytenian on June 25, 2008 at 6:40 am

    muscle cramping and fatigue are common while face in a very difficult situation. this are preventable if techniques were taught . all shipping lines must hand-out emergency brochure to every passenger. the coast guard must report actual passengers even if other passengers were not issued receipt. This practice is still very common. It hasn’t changed much and the culprits are getting sophisticated of handling this type of fraudulent recording. It’s all about money between the business, the coast guard in charge and of course the captain.

    • UP n student on June 25, 2008 at 7:13 am

    On “…cultural thing” and that “…not knowing how to swim is dangerous”: here is an article from Seattle, Washington.

    ———

    Consider these startling numbers: Nearly 60 percent of African-American children between the ages of 6 and 16 can’t swim, and they drown at three times the overall rate, according to a recent study by the University of Memphis. In Washington state, Asian-American children and adolescents have the highest rate of drowning — 18 percent of the deaths even though they are 7 percent of the state population. (Nationally, African Americans have the highest drowning rate.) And this: Families, in general, hand down recreation through the generations.

    Historically, black Americans haven’t had easy access to pools, so a disproportionate number don’t know how to swim, may not have insisted their children learn how and, in fact, may have encouraged the kids to stay away from the water, says Mickey Fearn, manager of Community Connections for Seattle Parks and Recreation. He grew up on the East Coast in the ’50s and ’60s.

    In Tennessee, “Black people could swim on Thursdays, and then they’d drain the pool and change the water.” In Maryland, there were separate beaches for blacks and whites. His parents insisted he learn how to swim, but he doesn’t particularly enjoy it. “With water,” Fearn says, “it’s all about confidence. Having the confidence you’re going to be safe. And if that confidence around the water didn’t develop for historical reasons or segregation, just because they build a facility in proximity to you doesn’t mean it’s going to change.”

    In Seattle, Fearn says, you look at all the water and if you can’t swim, “you don’t go kayaking, canoeing, water skiing or sailing, nor do you think of creating businesses in those areas because you have no rapport with the water. Marine sciences, running a charter boat, the fishing industry — all that is cut off.”

    Not knowing how to swim is also dangerous. While reviewing three years of child deaths in the state, Dr. Linda Quan, a pediatric physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, noted the high drowning rate among young Asian Americans, particularly teens. Anecdotally, doctors noticed a lot of the kids were Vietnamese American, mostly teens who drowned while hanging out with friends at the lake, even though they didn’t swim well.

    Last year, Quan led a Vietnamese drowning-prevention project… focus groups with Vietnamese families who attributed the open-water drownings to fate rather than lack of water-safety skills.

    There is reason to, every once in a while, can stuff into your pocket this “…but you are hurting other people’s feelings”-sensitivity. A level-headed response allows for being being able to find useful tidbits of knowledge from people’s commentaries.

    • leytenian on June 25, 2008 at 9:26 am

    “trapped under a capsized ship”

    one blogger said: The maritime transport and shipping industry, after all these years still do not have emergency and rescue manuals up to this date. sulpicio’s fault.
    A big penalty must be implemented. Our government should take over this company… In Leyte, we blog about having a government funded ship not private to benefit the employees and college students who travel back and forth to Cebu every weekend. The boat fare remains very expensive even with a student discount. ( I was complaining about this in the 80’s when I was in cebu for my studies) But our leaders spent all that budget to beautify our pier instead of regulating pricing, promote safety and training for emergency.. I’m sure its the same issue with our neighboring islands. I thought it will change since I left 18 years ago . Nothing has changed.

    at ricky carandang’s : How Insensitive. http://www.rickycarandang.com/?p=140
    “During the press conference held by the company, the vice president Sally Buaron, who answered reporter’s questions kept referring to the loss of the ship and “That was our boat and it was expensive.”

    • leytenian on June 25, 2008 at 10:01 am

    aha… at least our leader is doing something..

    Nograles wants franchise of Sulpicio Lines cancelled..

    http://tubagbohol.mikeligalig.com/index.php?topic=13551.0

    Now that… i can appreciate. i hope hindi lang blah blah blah… now the government can re-evaluate sulpicio’s assets and should now allow this company to operate on a different entity, file a new SEC registration but using the same old ships. akala siguro ni Nograles … walang lusot… serial number of the ship and manufacturers must be publicly recorded.

    • leytenian on June 25, 2008 at 10:05 am

    correction: re-evaluate sulpicio’s assets and should NOT allow this company

    • mabini on June 25, 2008 at 10:06 am

    cvj, dont be myopic. What im pointing at is for Pagasa to broaden its data gathering by using, comparing and analyzing their forecasts rather than plucked it off from the ceiling of their office. Weather forecast is not similar to the forecast in horse racing in which you will lost only a few bucks. A wrong weather forecast result to loss of lives and properties. Don’t you know that the Iloilo residents were caught unprepared by typhoon Frank? Its not only Princess of the Stars that sunk, there were two cargo vessels also (mv paway and another one off antique), a dozen of fishing vessels from cadiz city on the way to masbate and other numerous small fishing boats — all relied on Pagasa’s wrong forecast.

    • rego on June 25, 2008 at 10:23 am

    matanong ko lang cvj, do you know how to swim in the first place?

    • cvj on June 25, 2008 at 10:24 am

    mabini, weather forecasts are subject to a margin of error as the weather is a chaotic system.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

    That’s why even if you look at the JTWC or Accuweather reports, they always have a shaded area either side of the forecast path. As jeg mentioned above (at June 23rd, 2008 at 5:45 pm), it is unrealistic to expect weather forecasters to be spot on.

    Those responsible for disaster preparedeness and public safety should take this inherent uncertainty into account and not expect what is technically impossible.

    • cvj on June 25, 2008 at 10:25 am

    rego, my parents saw to it that i learned as a kid. (and i didn’t have to almost drown for them to see the need for that.)

    • mabini on June 25, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    You right Bencard. Cvj really missed my point.

    For every decision maker in private corporation or government, before they initiate and decide any action on certain matter they gather and analyze first all the relevant information/facts rather than just jump into the water and leave everything to chance. Ika nga, its better to err in caution.

    Btw cvj, who do you think is the party, agency or person that shall be accountable in this sea mishaps? …Frank/Fengshen?

    • cvj on June 25, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Mabini (at 1:54pm), i have no arguments with your second paragraph as a matter of principle. However, there is a limit to the precision of weather forecasts because the weather is a chaotic system, i.e. one where outcomes are sensitive to slight variations in initial conditions. That’s why it’s pointless for Salceda to complain about the false positive in Bicol as it is to blame PAGASA for the false negative in Iloilo. Both places should have been prepared.

    Sulpicio should be held accountable because of the poor/non-existent evacuation procedure, engine failure, and recklessness in proceeding to sail. The government should be faulted for its posturing and slow response.

    • Bencard on June 26, 2008 at 12:42 am

    “our government should take over this company”.

    where are you? cuba? btw, i didn’t know there was “blog(ing)” in leyte in the 80’s.

    • UP n student on June 26, 2008 at 10:55 am

    actually, if Sulpicio Lines were to be bankrupted, then Malacanang may have to commit to government-operated ferry service because one of the choices —- forget the ferry, fly commercial — is a “let them eat cake” sentence.

    • mark on June 26, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Here’s a link to the location of the eye of the Typhoon Frank above Panay Island during rendevous with Princess of the Stars on June 21, 2008.

    http:www.typhoon2000.ph/frankship.jpg

    U.S. military website showing the direction of sea current and height of waves. http://oceanography.navy.mil

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