MARIA CACAO AND THE CULTURE OF DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

“If Maria Cacao had developed in us

the DRR culture in the past, then

it is not hard and impossible for us

to regain back this invaluable culture today”

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Because of its timeliness, at time when our place (particularly Comval-New Bataan, Maragusan, Compostela, Nabunturan, Montevista, Monkayo) have had been experiencing flood, my post “FLOODING AND THE LEGEND OF MARIA CACAO” was trending for less than 2 days before it became viral on the second day. Of course, in my own personal standard who only have averaged 30 Likes, 15 comments and 3 Shares in my previous posts, making more than a thousand likes, comments and shares is more than enough to safely assume that my posts was both trending and viral.

As of 9:30 this morning, here are the summaries:
Ø 1,510 shares
Ø More than 1,800 Reactions (1,620 Likes, 107 Love, 95 Wow, 5 Happy, 1 Sad)
Ø More 1,000 Comment exchanges

With these numbers at hand, I am humbly saying that it’s not all about me or Maria Cacao. It’s about all of us. It is a proud celebration and thanksgiving of great culture only us have experienced and shared. By all of these, we can sincerely say, Thank you!

Modesty aside, I have had, I have been and I will always be overwhelmed by the results of this write ups. As an amateur writer in me, even the most seasoned journalist putting their feet on my shoes will surely float in the seas of nostalgia with pride and fulfillment.

However, feelings of pride and fulfillment are always temporary, they don’t last long. Thus, while the momentum is still at bay, I feel the necessity of connecting the dots looking backward, as the famous Steve Jobs taught us, and present some invaluable lessons from Maria Cacao experiences by all of the generous souls who shared.

Here we go:

Maria Cacao became the indigenous symbol of the culture of disaster (katalagman) preparedness (pagpangandam), mitigation (pagpakunhod sa grabeng epekto) and prevention (paglikay). Summary of our stories:

“Kung moabot na gani ug 2 hangtod 3 ka adlaw ang ulan, mao na ni ang panahon nga moagi si ang MV Maria Cacao” (early warning system).

“Di gyud moadto ug magpaduol sa sapa, labi na ang mga bata ug buntis, kay manguha gyud ug tawo ang sakay sa MV Maria Cacao aron ihalad sa mga engkanto” (preparedness, prevention and non-structural mitigation).

“Kasagaran, moagi gyud ang barko sa bulan sa December ug January” (preparedness through hazard profiling).

“Kasagaran sa makakita naa nagpuyo daplin sa sapa (Agusan, Batutu, Ngan rivers)” (preparedness through vulnerability assessment).

“Nakadungog ug serbato, nakakita ug hayag kayo nga mga suga labi na ug taas na gyud ang tubig” (preparedness, prevention through forced warning).

“Magpuyo na gyud sa balay, di na mogawas aron dili madala ni Maria Cacao” (prevention, preparedness).

“Higtan ug kabli ang mga tulay aron dili maguba kung masagit sa barko” (mitigation).

And many, many, many more stories of experiences that made the legend part of the ways of the lives of the people in our place. Whether or not Maria Cacao was indeed a reality or a complete myth resulting from wild imagining of the olds, it’s a non-issue and irrelevant. What has been clear is the historical and cultural significance of the stories worthy to be learned from and to be told especially to the younger generation.

With the mandate of many laws, updating and upgrading of equipment and technological tools, the advent of internet and accessibility of mass media, disaster risk reduction (DRR) has already been the by-words of those in authority especially before, during and after the onslaught of disaster events. Publicities, selfies, photo ops, pronouncements and other public relation works have been active enough to capture the public eyes. The people are benefiting, in one way or the other, on these acts and deeds.

However, indigenous and local knowledge should not be by-passed and stored eternally in the closets of yesterdays. While the legend of Maria Cacao has popularly been considered a thing of the past, its cultural significance and societal values could forever be endured. Absent PAGASA, PDRRMC, MDRRMC, DRRMC, DSWD, Maria Cacao was there to remind us the importance of the culture of disaster risk reduction (preparedness, prevention, mitigation).

If Maria Cacao had developed in us the DRR culture in the past, then it is not hard and impossible for us to regain back this invaluable culture today, especially with the modern-day tools we have. But we cannot develop culture without optimum people’s participation. If DRR is all about people, then we will bring the DRR culture to where the people are.

Did I say that the only way to develop and advance this culture is Community-Based(Driven) DRR?

Let history be the judge.

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