Archive for April, 2011

It was such a nice, relaxing trip to a beautiful place. This paradise in the Philippines seems too good to be true but it is. It was worth the visit and I know I will come back again. The food, the people and the wonders of nature are just the breath of fresh air we badly needed.

Who would think that squatters live here? But they do, Mayor Hagedorn made it possible for them to stay near the place where they earn a living. These people pay off a monthly fee and in 25 years the unit will be theirs.

The Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm was originally set up in 1902 by the United States to house Philippine prisoners who had fought against the American colonization of the Philippines. Today, situated on the lush island of Palawan, only 30 minutes by road from Puerto Princesa City, Iwahig is unique among penal institutions. Despite the fact that most of the 2,300 inmates have been convicted of homicide, the majority are minimum security prisoners and are thus not locked up within the colony. Instead, these minimum security inmates live in dormitories and work on one of the many agricultural projects located within the prison farm.

This is but less than a quarter of the land being tilled by the prisoners with light sentences. Here they can be productive and make better use of themselves.

Here we had our rather very, very late lunch. The food is cheap but cooked to perfection.

Colorful bancas that will take us to the underground river from Sabang.

Majestic rock formations abound in the island going to the underground river.

Interesting facts abound while on the footpath to the underground river.

Paradise, at last!


It is a Good Friday and here I am alone at home, clearly the idea of reflecting about the last 36 years of my life on earth seemed to be the best thing to do while the freshly brushed and mopped clean vinyl tiles dry. But it is also daunting, I want to jump ship. Go find my niche since this thing where I am seem clearly not working out. Guess the five years stay should be enough, except looking back there seems to be a number of jumps, a number of clearly not working out. If not one reason then another, so the question again is do I jump? If I do where should I jump to? Do I just wait where I land or do I purposely jump onto the next building where I can easily plant my feet? So the next question would be, what is that building? What does it hold for me?

Yes it comes to a point where youth is no longer an acquaintance but a complete stranger with that big question mark on its face. Who are you? Where are you going? What do you want to do? If only that can be simply answered by “I am an intelligent, funny person who happens to like reading, watching TV and eating chocolates.” “I will go to Europe.” “I want to just laze around.” Except life is not made to be answered like that. 36 years and still lost. Still asking myself if there was anything waiting for me out there or am I just duping myself by having false hopes about a non-existent good fortune in the future?

When I was little I used to want to just have a mini library where I will keep all my books. Then by the time I turned 13 all I wanted to be was an artist, man how I love to draw and color. I was not that good to be called one but I thought if I have all the willpower and determination soon enough my works of art will grace the walls of someone. Then in college I heeded my parents’ advise and took up the nearest to Fine Arts but failed miserably so I thought of  following my dad’s footsteps and tried dabbling my hand in Economics. That was the time I realized I am not in love with Math and it too was not smitten at all with me. Then despite my initial reservations, I took up Journalism and tho I did not win any awards nor was recognized for creating magically woven words I fell in head over heels in love with writing and creating lay outs. I was so stubborn for the longest time, fighting tooth and nail for my bylines to be published but I was severely shot down by editors from the big dailies making me think writing may not be the path for me as well…Still I did my best in coming up with great lay outs using Pagemaker in the succeeding companies I worked for and was praised at the speed I can edit and lay out pages by my immediate sup. For a time I know where I can be my best yet the need fora greener pasture beckoned.  That was five years ago and the pasture has turned an ugly shade of grey, no telltale signs of life…

Sigh, the floor has dried and the future has not gotten any clearer. Maybe a little more brushing and dusting will do the trick.

Let us admit, when Mother Nature is angry we should fear for our lives because nothing is sacred in her path. Everything you hold dear is up for grabs. So it was just nice of our community to have thought of giving a seminar for us in times of emergency. Of course it is not Mother Nature who would cause fire, but the real fear here is if the community and the buildings in it are ready for her wrath, will they stay up when she begins rattling the ground we step on?

Of course when the ground shakes, it is everyone else’s ballgame. But in terms of preparation, one has to make sure that you got your stuff ready: first aid kit, battery operated transistor radio, flashlight, batteries, candles, match, food good for two weeks and water. My brother want us to have an emergency bag packed, ready for any emergency. But we lacked the basics, actually save for clothes that we can pack, we do not have the rest of the required things. So I planned to get us some first aid kit and the transistor radio later. Better to have some at least then we can add more later.

But the what to do when and if the quake comes is something else altogether, panic would of course affect better judgement. So the what to do need to be permanently ingrained in the mind: should we follow the triangle of life and roll beside a sofa/bed/table? Or should we follow the Red Cross drop, cover and hold on? The triangle of life began circulating in the emails and the pictures that came with surely proved how sound the idea was until this too had been debunked…Doug Copp’s supposed research was said to be false and that he was not even affiliated with any US government or agency. So let me share with you the American Red Cross response to Doug Copp which you also may find thru this link Earthquakes are already scary as it is, so it is best to be better informed and prepared, this article was culled from a study in the US and may not be applicable here still it does not hurt to know. So read on and do your own thing as well because you, your loved ones and someone else’s life may be saved.

American Red Cross response to “Triangle of Life” by Doug Copp

Sent from
Rocky Lopes, PhD
Manager, Community Disaster Education
American Red Cross National Headquarters

Recently it has been brought to my attention that an email from Doug Copp, titled “Triangle of Life,” is making its rounds again on the Internet. “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” is CORRECT, accurate, and APPROPRIATE for use in the United States for Earthquake safety. Mr. Copp’s assertions in his message that everyone is always crushed if they get under something is incorrect.

Recently, the American Red Cross became aware of a challenge to the earthquake safety advice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” This is according to information from Mr. Doug Copp, the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of American Rescue Team International (a private company not affiliated with the U.S. Government or other agency.) He says that going underneath objects during an earthquake [as in children being told to get under their desks at school] is very dangerous, and fatal should the building collapse in a strong earthquake. He also states that “everyone who gets under a doorway when a building collapses is killed.” He further states that “if you are in bed when an earthquake happens, to roll out of bed next to it,” and he also says that “If an earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.” These recommendations are inaccurate for application in the United States and inconsistent with information developed through earthquake research. Mr. Copp based his statements on observations of damage to buildings after an earthquake in Turkey. It is like “apples and oranges” to compare building construction standards, techniques, engineering principles, and construction materials between Turkey and the United States.

We at the American Red Cross have studied the research on the topic of earthquake safety for many years. We have benefited from extensive research done by the California Office of Emergency Services, California Seismic Safety Commission, professional and academic research organizations, and emergency management agencies, who have also studied the recommendation to “drop, cover, and hold on!” during the shaking of an earthquake. Personally, I have also benefited from those who preceded me in doing earthquake education in California since the Field Act was passed in 1933.

What the claims made by Mr. Copp of ARTI, Inc., does not seem to distinguish is that the recommendation to “drop, cover, and hold on!” is a U.S.-based recommendation based on U.S. Building Codes and construction standards. Much research in the United States has confirmed that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” has saved lives in the United States. Engineering researchers have demonstrated that very few buildings collapse or “pancake” in the U.S. as they might do in other countries. Using a web site to show one picture of one U.S. building that had a partial collapse after a major quake in an area with thousands of buildings that did not collapse during the same quake is inappropriate and misleading.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which collects data on injuries and deaths from all reportable causes in the U.S., as well as data from three University-based studies performed after the Loma Prieta (September, 1989) and Northridge (January, 1994) earthquakes in California, the following data are indicated: Loma Prieta: 63 deaths, approximately 3,700 people were injured. Most injuries happened as a result of the collapse of the Cypress Street section of I-880 in Oakland. Northridge: 57 deaths, 1,500 serious injuries. Most injuries were from falls caused by people trying to get out of their homes, or serious cuts and broken bones when people ran, barefooted, over broken glass (the earthquake happened in the early morning on a federal holiday when many people were still in bed.) There were millions of people in each of these earthquake-affected areas, and of those millions, many of them reported to have “dropped, covered, and held on” during the shaking of the earthquake.

We contend that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” indeed SAVED lives, not killed people. Because the research continues to demonstrate that, in the U.S., “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” works, the American Red Cross remains behind that recommendation. It is the simplest, reliable, and easiest method to teach people, including children.

The American Red Cross has not recommended use of a doorway for earthquake protection for more than a decade. The problem is that many doorways are not built into the structural integrity of a building, and may not offer protection. Also, simply put, doorways are not suitable for more than one person at a time.

The Red Cross, remaining consistent with the information published in “Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages,” (visit ) states that if you are in bed when an earthquake happens, remain there. Rolling out of bed may lead to being injured by debris on the floor next to the bed. If you have done a good job of earthquake mitigation (that is, removing pictures or mirrors that could fall on a bed; anchoring tall bedroom furniture to wall studs, and the like), then you are safer to stay in bed rather than roll out of it during the shaking of an earthquake.

Also, the Red Cross strongly advises not try to move (that is, escape) during the shaking of an earthquake. The more and the longer distance that someone tries to move, the more likely they are to become injured by falling or flying debris, or by tripping, falling, or getting cut by damaged floors, walls, and items in the path of escape. Identifying potential “void areas” and planning on using them for earthquake protection is more difficult to teach, and hard to remember for people who are not educated in earthquake engineering principles. The Red Cross is not saying that identifying potential voids is wrong or inappropriate. What we are saying is that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” is NOT wrong — in the United States. The American Red Cross, being a U.S.-based organization, does not extend its recommendations to apply in other countries. What works here may not work elsewhere, so there is no dispute that the “void identification method” or the “Triangle of Life” may indeed be the best thing to teach in other countries where the risk of building collapse, even in moderate earthquakes, is great.