The Bicol University Extension Service Center (BUESC) facilitated the visit of the United States-based Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) representatives last September 18, 2015.
In an afternoon program held at the BU-Higher Education Regional Research Center (HERRC) Amphitheatre at BU East Campus, Legazpi City, the US-EDEN team headed by Dr. Beverly Samuel, Child and Family Consultation Service (CFCS) National Program Leader of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Washington DC, USA, with Dr. Virginia Morgan-White, US EDEN Past Chair, who at the same time represents Auburn University of Alabama, and Dr. Keith G. Tidball of Cornell University, New York. Said team was accompanied by the Department of Agriculture (DA) Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) national representatives headed by Dr. Vilma Patindol, Mr. Vicente Dayanghirang and Ms. Ma. Teresa Cusico.
In the said program, Dr. Helen M. Llenaresas, BU Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), lauded the historic initiation of Dr. Caroline Crocoll, who in April 2010, was the main speaker of seminar-workshop on disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the university. Dr. Llenaresas further stressed that there is a need to pull together different resources from government, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other socio-civic groups to lessen the impacts of disasters.
Meanwhile, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda warmly welcomed the guests and participants, extending the hospitality of the province while at the same time praising the purpose of US EDEN in creating a global network that would help lessen the effects of disasters particularly in the Bicol region.
“We are happy that there is such a network as US EDEN and Bicol EDEN who would educate further our people when it comes to disaster preparedness,” Salceda stressed.
Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal also expressed his support for the information, education, and communication campaign in championing climate change adaptation (CCA)-DRRM aiming at prevention, resiliency, and “zero-casualty” that contributed to the city’s garnering national awards on best practices with regard to DRRM.
“We are constantly visited by typhoons every year, [and] not only that, we have with us Mayon Volcano which is also a threat and at the same time a tourist attraction. With EDEN, we learn a lot of things in safeguarding our people,” Rosal expressed.
In behalf of the US EDEN team, Dr. Beverly Samuel, pointed out that through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in collaboration with DA-ATI they wish to model a Philippine EDEN set-up together with different state universities and colleges (SUCs) and other stakeholders. She also acknowledged the move by the university extension office. Meanwhile, Dr. Antonio P. Payonga, BUESC Director, presented the different undertakings made by Bicol EDEN. He also recognized the leadership of Dr. Leilani D. Pavilando, former BUESC Director, for her role in developing the different programs of Bicol EDEN.
An open forum followed after the different presentations made by both the guests and university officials. Representatives from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Tactical Operations Group V (TOG-V), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to name a few, shared their experiences and best practices when it comes to disaster preparedness and management. Dr. Beverly Samuel was impressed by the different strategies and collaborations reported by each stakeholder. “There is really a need for more visibility in the community, exploring into the DA-ATI framework in regional centers through SUCs. I express my thanks to everyone,” Samuel added.
On September 19, the US EDEN team had the chance to visit some of the places in the province of Albay. Landmarks such as Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga, Albay was included in their itinerary, too. In the town of Sto. Domingo, Albay, the group witnessed the capacity building program on DRRM executed by selected elementary pupils together with some faculty members in the “Move Philippines” program (see related story on p. 8).
“I’m very happy to see what these young people are doing. They have just integrated DRR activities in their classroom so effectively,” Dr. Keith Tidball commented as he took several footages of the activity.
At the Mayon Rest House, the team was given the opportunity to view several documentaries of the destructive eruption of Mayon volcano. They were able to glimpse the fire and fury of Mayon’s rampaging eruption. “The footages of Mayon spitting red-hot lava up in the air was just too awesome,” Dr. Virginia White stated. (Ping B. Peralta and Ma. Corazon R. Naz/BU-ESC)