The Philippines has a long way to go in weather forecasting.  For a long time, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration or popularly known as PAGASA has been waiting for its order of at least ten S-band Doppler Radars.  The first delivery being half of the lot.  This has not happened.

PAGASA has been relying in part on the steady stream of free inputs with its membership in the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).  Certain quarters suggested the creation of a Philippine space agency in 2007 and a data communications (satellite) based agency as early as 1988.  No one listened to the proposals.  If the former Sec. Emilia Boncodin of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) even singlehandedly torpedoed down the creation of the Congress-legislated National Transport Safety Board, much more a space agency. And because of Boncodin’s single act, the whole situation is so fucked up that tragic disasters and crises involving mishaps at sea have been happening left and right and can’t be stopped from happening in the future. There were those who unnecessarily criticized and lambasted the proponent of a Philippine space agency, a retiring engineer at PAGASA, as foolish.

The project proposed to create a functional data communication agency, the Philippine Satellite Communication Operation, Research and Development Council (PSCRDC) in 1988, at the diminishing level of euphoria over EDSA I was probably just thrown in the garbage can.  If real and pseudo scholars will check at the Records Office in Malacañang, there is heavy doubt if the document was even registered as received by the Office of the President, even under the heading of Classified matter.  The project paper had a stamp of SECRET all over it.

The PSCRDC was clearly envisioned to be a Philippine space agency and it preceded the idea submitted by Engr. Bernardo Soriano.  Soriano appears to be an admin man, although he should be equipped with a doctorate after serving more than 30 years in PAGASA.  Why he submitted the idea for PASA could be due to his years of experiencing faulty detection and forecasting at PAGASA.

The Philippine Government should review the PAGASA proposal now and not at any other later time.  S-band Radars are all right.  But is it state-of-the-art in storm detection radars (SDR)?  If the investment to buy 10 radars will not cover the entire archipelago, what is the use of having the Dopplers?

Will it not pay more to have a stronger space agency and to invest more inputs for a mechanism to generate more data from outer space than is available today for the country?  After all, how many end-users are there for satellite data?  Nearly everyone has a use for information from outer space, not the least of which are those in the field of environment management, business, civil and military aviation, shipping, land transport, logistics, defense, law enforcement and just about any Googler and ArcGIS map user out there that includes many students, teachers, professionals who know how to.  And if you count them all, the number runs to millions.

That in itself is already a huge market.  Considering that the Philippine business traffic overlaps with those of many other countries, there is also revenue potential in this area.

For this reason, Cyberpark Telecom, our company has extended its sights towards business that relies on outer space data and possibly to generate a positive relationship with Smart Communications in this regard.

While there is only one Philippine satellite, see data from SatNews below, there is also great good that will come about if the satellite were boosted and fully equipped with new components and gadgetry to increase its sensing capabilities and other functions.  And that is where we come in.  If the Agila II Satellite people will not accept our offer, we can go shopping for other partners.  There are hundreds of satellites, real and artificial orbiting in outer space. India alone has ten satellites.  Or we could opt to launch our own satellites in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology in the near future.

By then, government must have renamed the PAGASA into a Philippine Space Agency as Soriano dreamed of.  But today we urge the administration of HE  PGMA to start pushing its cluster of agencies to map out the strengthening of RP’s capacities for using outer space as a valuable resource in many of its concerns.

As we are advocating in Resource Recovery Movement, there is a need for policy regime change in the area of mapping as it relates to environment, to global warming, to its many applications in engineering, architectural township planning, urban development, agriculture, etc.

The link to information on the Agila II Satellite: SatNews

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One of my classmates Hency Barbaza Marquez, now a really fine doctor in the US (this is inevitably an ad), invited me to this social net. It was a good thing. Over that site, I invited those who would get interested in joining a resource recovery movement that was inspired by the Finnish Government’s functional unit in the 1970s called FinKonsult. I think that it’s defunct now. The main reason probably why the concept of resource recovery was propagated by Finland and by many other European nations, is that specifically Finland, is a heavy user of pulp. And chemicals.

A Finnish friend over a few glasses of alak impressed me with his job in the main industry of his country: paper. No, no, no not just plain paper. Paper for banks. Security paper, that is, that is used for bank notes, certificates of stock, whatever. Basta that kind of paper.

It was a main export of Finland, he said, paper. The only other country that heavily exported the same commodity and stiffly competed with Finland, was Sweden.  So they (meaning him, my friend and the Swedish) must be falling a lot of trees, I asked him. A lot! he said.

Many of us use a lot of paper and wood products and like my friend’s country, we also cut a lot of trees.  But many of those that do the cutting, don’t necessarily consider just how much paper and wood we need. They just cut and cut and sell and sell, never mind if they violate or environmental laws.

And so the need for resource recovery.  The concept is just simple, anyway.  Create savings in our resources, meaning use the limited resources of our environment wisely, albeit not sparingly, but wisely.  Save the lot that can be saved. And avoid usage that could be harmful to others or to the environment itself.

When you save, you have something for the rainy day right? That’s added income, added profit.

When you care, you are more careful, correct? Then less harm, less hazard to the surroundings.

When you do something wisely, you do it efficiently and effectively, correct class?  That’s increased productivity.  Now increased productivity, translates to more income, more profit for less effort and lower levels of waste.

Now about our title, going local, it comes from the blog post of girbaudz that specifically asks for the government to do the following:

1.   Stop talking about and blaming global warming
2.   Create a specific super body to study and manage a Calamity Monitoring and Public Warning System that will be either an adjunct of, or co-equal with the NDCC
3.  Increase the capability of NDCC to provide early response during disaster
4.   Create local structures and response capability to confront calamities. (In China, communities near rivers set up a system of ropes and handles from bank to bank to prevent people from drowning and dying during heavy flooding and provide access from one side of the river to the other.)
5.   Restore the Flood Control Project fund and create funding for additional flood control systems not only in Metro Manila but also in many other vulnerable areas
6.   Resettle many of Metro Manila’s squatters living in major or minor bridges, and completely relocate all of the human rat peoples inside Sewers everywhere in Metro Manila and open up the entire sewerage system to let surface run-off water seep into the sewers (and desilt, dredge those damned rivers, for God’s sake!) — insertion mine
7.    Stop the forest denudation by recreating a fully armed, heavily weaponized Forest Ranger Brigade from a composite of AFP, Coast Guard, PNP and other armed services. No DENR employee shall be allowed to enter any Forest Ranger facility except to cooperate with them
8.   Conduct behind-schedule damage control from the following — Baguio killer earthquake and Mt. Pinatubo eruption damage by reconstructing the landscape destroyed by eroded ash from Caraballo and other ranges and greening of these ranges (among other activities) to prevent further flash flooding, erosion, avalanches and landslides (insertion mine)
9.   Heavily sanction all the illegal logging and indiscriminate dumping of toxins from mining operations from north to south and stop the syndicates that are willing and fully determined to kill their enemies and detractors by putting them in jail for life
10. Stop the killing of Manila Bay by providing solutions to the erosion, toxic dumping from point Agno down to Pasig River.

I guess girbaudz is right.  It really is more expensive to undertake damage control than to make proactive moves.  And here is the clincher, calling on Sec. Jose L. Atienza of the DENR:

11.  Legislate new rules and regulations, acts and statutes for protecting the ecology including maximized penalties for all violators (illegal loggers, miners, dumpers of toxic waster in internal or territorial waters) and then Codify all ecology laws into the Environmental Code of the Philippines that provides the vision of a cleaner environment fifty to one hundred years hence. (all mine)

12.  Educate the youth on the importance of the ecology.  DECs and CHED will issue circulars to create more subjects and more inclusions of the topic of the environment into school curricula. (all mine)

Government needs to arrest the destruction of our ecosystem.  That’s right Sec. Atienza, government. The NGOs can’t do anything unless they really put their minds to not just making a living, making a little money out of the damned ecology racket, creating positions and jobs for this or that person and giving huge salaries and perks.  Just for doing nothing.

But more so, the government should actually be more focused on creating a mechanism by which managing disaster assistance could be more “localized” – which is what is now being done in Pasig where the NDCC set up a local Command Center.  This might be a derivative of the girbaudz “localizing disaster assistance management” doctrine, but it will do just the same.  In the end, it will turn out to be a highly successful decision.

Synchronicity?  Or a positive and favorable acceptance of girbaudz’s suggestion?

The administration deserves credit for initiating such a solution similar to the one offered by blogger girbaudz about going local.

The recent experience in Sulu Province, for example, giving all out support to the local players in solving the ICRC crisis proved that going local, with national officials merely providing a modicum of support, made the rescue and recovery efforts of Lacaba, Notter and Vagni, very successful.

There is hope that even with bigger calamities, many more lives will be spared, many more properties saved.

However, this will still hinge upon having very good typhoon forecasting equipment.  Good typhoon, earthquake or fire detection mechanisms will already have solved half of the problem of responders in a disaster situation. In the first place, the effort needed for rescue, recovery and relief will only be at least a half of what is required as in the case of Typhoon Ondoy.

The president and the secretary of national defense, are going to be most well-advised listening to the suggestion in girbaudz’s blog.

As pointed out in that blog, in places like China, there are devices employed in places like river banks such as a network of ropes tied from bank to bank to allow people to have a handhold in case the rivers are heavily inundated with flood waters.

This is only one example.  There are other creative measures that could be formulated, each unique to the specific setting.  I wish the government good luck in laying out a blueprint for disaster response that will make events typical of Hurricane Katrina more manageable and less damaging.

As a postscript, I reiterate my invitation to everyone to join Facebook Cause Resource Recovery Movement.  It is in the stage of organization but will soon grow to become a functional network that could possibly make modest contributions to saving our environment from wholescale destruction that causes catastrophies like Typhoon Ondoy. Ondoy as we know now from the media reports, left behind more than 100 dead, hundreds of thousands of people victims, nearly a billion in crop and other losses.  Such a huge waste.  A simple natural calamity shouldn’t be allowed to go on a rampage just like that with many in the government feeling helpless about what to do next.