Located in the tropic of Cancer, the Philippines has only two seasons: the dry and the wet. While Americans are enjoying the summer, Filipinos are preparing for rains. More accurately, they brace for hurricanes.
The Philippines survives an average of twenty to twenty-five hurricanes each year. These calamities come like clockwork with as many as three of them entering the Philippine area of responsibility in just one week.
Being an archipelago, these hurricanes are no small matter. Most of the country’s topographical surface is below sea level. Some of the worst incidences of hurricanes such as 2013’s ‘Haiyan’ substantially cripple entire provinces and claimed thousands of lives. Today, many of these areas are still feeling the effects of the Haiyan with many businesses never being able to bounce back. Some five years earlier in 2008, Hurricane ‘Frank’ likewise devastated Iloilo City, entirely submerging most parts of the urban landscape, putting everything to a standstill for almost a month.
The hardest hit coastal and mountainous areas are the poorest municipalities. International and local relief operations are difficult because of the difficult travel. Being so far from citified efforts, long-distance mitigation measures are often underwhelming and haphazard. Even in the worst of occasions, many Filipinos still refuse to evacuate these areas for fear of their farms, livestock, and that they won’t have anywhere else to go.
The country’s weather agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (acronymed ‘PAG-ASA’ meaning hope), has steadily improved over the years. New technological advancements and foreign information sharing have helped to significantly improve the country’s early warning systems. In recent years, the country has prepared for larger and larger hurricanes.
But as time has wound on, Filipinos have adapted to the same way of life from centuries ago. A study by Harvard University found that Region VI (including Iloilo City where Xilium’s PH headquarters is located) is the most disaster resilient region in the Philippines. After the calamity passes, Filipinos are quick to rebuild and resume their ordinary lives.
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