“Walang namamatay sa lindol (Nobody dies from earthquake),” says Jeffrey S. Perez, a geologist from Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). “Namamatay kapag nabagsakan ng mga gamit sa bahay. Kaya dapat, ngayon pa lang, i-check nyo na ang mga bahay nyo kung ano ang maaaring makaapekto sa inyo. (People dies when they get hit by falling objects. That is why as early as now, check the things in your house that might affect you).”

Perez was among the five presenters in the Disaster Summit for Grade School Children held at the recent 2017 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.

He said that on the average, the PHIVOLCS records 20 temblors daily. In the last 400 years, the country experienced 90 destructive earthquakes, he also informed.

On the concept of training school kids on disasters, Venus Valdemoro, public information head of the DOST-Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said, “Japan trains kids as young five years of age on how to save themselves during disasters.”

PAGASA partnered with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in a three-year development cooperation to enhance the Philippines’ capacity on weather observation and forecasting called JICA-PAGASA on Weather Project or J-POW. The partnership  includes conduct of awareness raising activities and seminars, dispatch of experts, and provision of equipment to boost the Philippines’ disaster awareness and resiliency. 

Among the topics presented to the children are: why earthquakes happen; preparing yourself in an earthquake; what is radiation and what are its benefits; experimentation on clouds; saving yourself during flood; some benefits from rain; and many others and other weather related information.

The summit was participated in by 250 kids from various schools and from Boys Town in Marikina. Speakers were disaster experts from PHIVOLCS, PAGASA, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), and Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), all DOST agencies.

On the participation of Boys Town kids, Joselito A. Carteciano, information unit head of the DOST-NRCP, said, “I just thought that these kids should experience what they’ve never experienced before — science for the people…. So I approached PAGASA to include these children among the audience.”

Fe Quimson, a houseparent,  led the participants from Boys Town, kids 6 to 17 years old, in attending the summit. She said, “Marami kaming natutunan, magagamit namin in the near future. (We have learned a lot, we can use them in the near future).”

The kids enjoyed the activities such as the question-and-answer portion in which they won some tokens.  Among those who took home some tokens are Janelle Rose O. Dones, Grade 6 at the Plainview Elementary School in Mandaluyong City, and four of her classmates.

Siblings James Uriel  and John Renier Augustine A. Noel, students of the Child Development Center -Cavite State University, came with their parents who learned more about the event from the internet. They found the summit “interesting, educational, and informative.”

PAGASA Senior Weather Specialist Sharon Juliet M. Arruejo taught the kids about clouds and rain, and some of the benefits of the rain, such as how it helps fulfil 50 percent of the water requirement of Angat Dam. Rain provides farmers with the needed water and also helps clean the atmosphere, she said.

Arruejo also stressed her point through a short video clip that, “Kahit bata may pwedeng gawin para makapaghanda para sa kalamidad(Even kids can do something to prepare for disasters ).” (Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin, S&T Media Service)