Diocese of Novaliches Prepares Parish Leaders for the Threat of Earthquake
By: Mayen Acebron, RSW
On July 24, 2015, 272 leaders from 55 parishes of the Diocese of Novaliches gathered at Palace of the Rock, St. Peter Shrine for the Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness Seminar organized by the Social Action Commission/Caritas Novaliches of the diocese. Atty. Ira Agustin, Over-all Lay Coordinator served as Master of Ceremony of this event.
Bishop Antonio Tobias opened the session by welcoming the participants. He commended them for attending, added that their presence indicate that they care for their community and that they are eager to be of help in times of calamities. Moreover, he encouraged the participants to start taking good care of the environment. He said that earthquake might not be prevented, but if people start taking good care of the environment its disastrous effect may be lessened.
After the warm welcome from the Bishop, the Vicar General for Pastoral and at the same time Officer In-charge of Caritas Novaliches, Rev. Fr. Antonio Labiao Jr. presented the objectives of the training and the current status of the Diocese in terms of Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM). He also encouraged the parishes, especially those that are prone to calamities, to set up five clusters as part of their preparedness. The five clusters are: Relief, Feeding, Medical, Psychosocial and Rehabilitation.
The morning session was dedicated to raising awareness on the threat of 7.2 earthquakes to the Valley Fault System that traverse the Diocese of Novaliches, and determining its impact to the high risk vicariates and parishes located in Quezon City and Kalookan City. It was presented by Carlos Gubat I, current DRRM and Environmental Protection Program Lay Coordinator of Caritas Novaliches.
Representatives from Kalookan City and Quezon City were also invited to present the DRRM plan of both cities. The representative from Quezon City, Ms. Rizheel Apo, advised the participants to go to their respective barangay halls to find out the evacuation centers in their barangays in preparation for calamities like earthquake and even flood. She also discussed lengthily the efforts of the Quezon City government to increase awareness about the earthquake and at the same time prepare for its impact. On the other hand, Mr. Juan Garcia, the Kalookan City representative, provided their rescue hotline (3107536) along with some earthquake preparedness advice.
Ms. Milet Medoza, a Humanitarian Practitioner and Church Volunteer, opened the afternoon session by encouraging the parish leaders to strengthen and organize their DRRM teams. She provided the assessment checklist on basic organizational disaster risk management capability to further assists the leaders on their DRRM parish organization. Along the way, she also provided some useful tips on how to prepare for possible disasters particularly earthquakes.
Furthermore, she facilitated the workshop where in each vicariate was gathered to discuss its initial DRRM plan and present them to the assembly. Parishes were encouraged to polish their plans when they get together again on their regular vicariate meetings.
To address the need for practical knowledge on “what to do before, during and after an earthquake”, the Social Action Commission invited Mr. Martin Aguda Jr. to share his expertise on the matter. He is the Founder of Orange Helmet, an expert on DRRM preparedness and an experienced rescuer. Mr. Aguda presented his OplanYOYO(You’re On Your Own) Emergency Preparedness Plan. OplanYOYO consists of basic and practical family preparedness approach before, during and after an earthquake. He emphasized the importance of drills, of trying out the plan to make sure it is going to be successful and to find out if it’s actually doable. According to Mr. Aguda, it is by means of drills that people figure out what to adjust, change or disregard as to their plans to make it even more effective. Thus, the participation of all the people involved in drills is very crucial.
Mr. Aguda also shared the importance of having an earthquake Go bag. This bag should contain items that will be very useful in times of earthquake. Some examples of the items that should be in a go bag are, flashlight with extra batteries, easy to prepare food – good for three (3) days, change of clothes, blankets, hygiene items, multifunctional tools, radio and first aid. Go bag content may be modified according to the need of the owner. If anyone is undergoing medication, it is advisable to stock seven days worth of medicine.
In the end, Mr. Aguda advised everybody to be alert and stay prepared because nobody knows when exactly the earthquake will come. He also advised the participants to always remember to protect their heads no matter what in times of earthquake. He ended his talk with a simple drill. People were requested to protect their heads with chairs for a few seconds as part of the drill and everybody participated.
It was indeed a very fruitful day for the leaders of the Diocese of Novaliches. The organizers together with the Bishop are hoping that people who attended this seminar will share their knowledge with their family and their community.