Pedring, Ondoy, — Are we ever ready for them?

On September 27, 2011 Typhoon Pedring hit land. It did not hit Metro Manila directly, yet, the rains that pour on the metropolis cause flooding in various places. The situation is worse in Central and Northern Luzon. All of a sudden we remember the floods brought by Typhoon Ondoy which wrecked havoc on Metro Manila, two years and one day ago.

The government was more prepared in 2011 compared to two years ago.  Emergency workers evacuated river areas that are notorious for flooding.  Authorities enforced forced evacuations to prevent casualties. And some residents acted more quickly this time to evacuate homes as waters rose. The weather bureau has forewarned the nation about the forthcoming scenario. Their regular updates have guided disaster management officials and the general public.

But still, some government offices that have not stepped up to the plate. The suspension of classes at the college levels came at a time when most students have already gone to their colleges and universities. Likewise, the announcement that government employees not involved in emergency work do not have to report to their offices also came late in the morning Result:  thousands of students and employees got stranded. The joke around town was that people were already swimming in the floods when they heard that classes and work were already suspended(see image).

There is also the question of why those in-charge of the dams have to wait for the water levels to reach almost spilling levels before they start releasing the waters. After all, the amount of rainfall hitting the various areas in the country has been measured and forecasted by Pagasa with a comfortable margin of accuracy.

In fairness, we have improved a lot in the disaster management side of the issue.  But on the prevention side, much work needs to be done.   Following are my reasons for making this conclusion:

  1. I am not sure if there is comprehensive plan to abate if not solve the flooding problem. And if ever there is one, I am not sure when it will be started. I have read a lot of press releases from several national government agencies and local governments on what they plan to do. But even the simple act of reforesting the Marikina watershed has not been started.
  1. There is no improvement in our garbage disposal system.   Tons of garbage fill up the whole stretch of the shorelines of Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard after every typhoon – trash that are from the esteros and canals upstream. Obviously, residents are still throwing their garbage directly into our waterways, and the government appears helpless in enforcing whatever law that prohibits throwing of garbage to the waterways.
  1. We have not relocated the squatters occupying waterways and floodways. Illegal residents continue to squat on easements and clog waterways with trash.  Even middle to high income residents do not respect the easement laws.  Just look at upscale and mid mid-scale subdivisions where residents appropriate public easements, either fencing them off or worse still, covering them over with permanent structures that clog waterways with concrete.
  1. We have not de-clogged our drainage and dredged our creeks and waterways. In fairness, there were so many projects aimed at de-clogging of canals and esteros immediately after Typhoon Ondoy. Two years after, however, these efforts have slowed down. A casual inspection all around the metropolis will show that many of our canals are still clogged with trash.
  1. We hardly maintain the dikes and sea walls separating bodies of waters from land. The breaching of dikes in Pampanga and Bulacan as well as the destruction of the sea wall along Roxas Boulevard attests to our failure to maintain these types of structures.

Given all the above, it is a foregone conclusion that floods will still be prevalent. Heavy rains will result in submerged streets and the best we can do is prepared for the floods. Following are simple reminders that will help anyone reduce the losses brought about by floods:

  1. Have an emergency plan and an emergency kit.  Talk about an evacuation plan, what to do, where to meet, what things to have, and the contents of a grab and go bag in the event that calamities would happen. Make sure all members of the family, including household help are aware of this plan.
  1. Make sure you have an Act of God insurance coverage for your house and your car.  This will protect your house, its contents, as well as provide coverage for lost rental income if you are renting your properties. The same goes for your car.
  1. Secure your important files and documents?  Back-up your computer files and store it online.  Scan important documents like land titles, passports, transcripts, diplomas, pictures, certificates, and pictures so that electronic copies can be stored safely in different secure locations or you can even store them online. Rent a safety deposit box in a bank located in a flood free area or invest in a fireproof and waterproof safe at home. Waterproof containers or plastic bags could also help  protect documents against floods.

And one last suggestion. Pray for our safety.





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Tongue Twister from Jose Yparaguirre

Got this from my college classmate – Jose Yparaguirre. I am posting this because most of the time having “nosebleed” moments refer to situation when we have a difficult time with a foreign language.  Check out how well you can translate the paragraphs below:

“Ang kinabuhi nato sama sa usa ka basurahan. Sulod niini ang mga nagtapun-og ug gilangaw natong mga kagahapon. Adunay mga gum-os nga gugma, lata ug gi-ulod nga mga pagmahay, mga silopin sa kasilag ug mga botelya sa kasaypanan. Kun kini dili nimo ilaba, mamahimo kining BARA sa imong mga PANGANDOY.

Mao, balik-lantaw sa nangagi aron matugkad ang kinauyukan ug lintunganay niining tanan sa kasamtangang panahon aron ugma damlag makab-ot ang gihanduraw ning atong tanlag.

Higala, kinsay nag-ingon nga english lang ang maka -nosebleed”?

Good day!

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Walingwaling: from Bud to Full Bloom

Vanda sanderiana – that is what the folks at the Philippine Orchid Society and a lot of hobbyists call this orchid. But to people from Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga, where this orchid is, we call it waling-waling. Before scientists propagated it in nurseries under laboratory conditions, waling-waling only grows as an epiphyte attached to dipterocarp forest trees.

Waling-waling produces beautiful flowers worthy of its description as the “Queen of Philippine Orchids”.  The species bloom in the Philippines from July to October, usually after experiencing close to a month of continuous downpour brought about by the monsoon.

Having a waling-waling in our garden and watching it grew from a small seedling to a full-grown plant is one my those things I  always wanted to do. I cannot afford the hobby when I was young. And I did not have time to do it when I was engaged in full-time corporate work. So when, I took the early retirement plunge, I finally had the chance to do it!

I bought the young plant (less than 4 inches tall) in 2005. I attached it to a driftwood and watched it grew to full size until it had its first spike four years later. So, for more than two weeks sometime in July to August 2009, I was watching the orchid develop from spike to bud to full bloom to the time its last petals fall. And I took snapshots of the waling-waling orchid from bud to full bloom.

Below was the first of the series of pictures I took. The flower bud had been there for more than a week. The spike started to come out around two weeks earlier. On 27 July 2009,  I took my first snapshot using a Canon Powershot S3 1S.

July 27


Over the next few days the buds started to open. Notice in the pictures below how the shape of the buds changes, starting from the lowermost portion up to the topmost until they are all extended and ready to open (pictures July 28 to July 31).

July 28
July 29


July 30
July 31


They were on their way to bloom by August 1  with the lowermost buds opening up first and working their way into the uppermost buds.

August 1


August 2


I was on out-of-town trip in the next three days, so I failed to take photos. When I came back, the buds were already fully opened. I spent the next week enjoying the grandeur of the waling-waling flowers until its fullest bloom.  i took snapshots until the petals started to wilt, but i am not posting those pictures here.

August 6
August 7


August 9


August 10
August 11


August 12

Being an amateur photographer, I did not get the best photo composition deserving of the waling-waling.  But I am happy with the thought that I had the patience to go back to the same spot almost every day for 3 weeks to observe and to take snapshots of the Queen of Orchids as it bloomed.

Should you want to see the series of pictures again watch the slideshow below. Just click the photo for the slide to move to the next one.













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Cooking time: 15 mins
Servings: 3-4

Pasta with Tuna and Capers


  • 250 grams pasta, cooked al dente
  • ¼ cup virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps. Butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsps. Anchovy fillets
  • 4 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cans tuna in brine or vegetable oil, drained
  • 3 tbsps. Capers plus 2 tbsps. Caper juice
  • Small handful of fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Few slices of lemons


Over medium heat, sauté garlic and anchovies together in the oil and butter. Let anchovies melt into the oil but do not allow garlic to brown. Add chopped tomatoes and capers and cook for 2 minutes. Next add your tuna and juice of capers and allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes more. Toss in your pasta and mix together. Should the mixture look too dry, you may sprinkle some water from your cooked pasta. Season with ground black pepper and lastly sprinkle with parsley. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with lemon slices.



About Myra Portillo:

Myra was a top-notch key accounts specialist at ABS-CBN Integrated Sales and Marketing until her early retirement in 2001. During our days at ABS-CBN, we look forward to lunches and small parties where we get to taste some of her recipes.  After her retirement, she re-“discovered” her love for paintings and the crafts. Her watercolor artworks are so nice that a lot of her friends have encouraged her to put a one-woman exhibit. But to date, we haven’t been able to convince her. In fact, when I encouraged her to contribute to this blogsite, I mentioned her paintings, but instead she opted to share with us one of her cooking secrets — her yummy pasta with tuna and capers.




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A question of distance

This quiz should be easy, since I provided the choices for you to choose from. If you think the correct answer is not among the choices provided, you may type-in the correct answer.

But the real challenge, is if you can tell me where in Davao del Sur is the beachfront I am referring to.

Now, here is the question:



Three months ago, I travelled from Padada to a beachfront somewhere in Davao del Sur. On the first day I travelled one half of the distance. On day two, I travelled one-third of the remaining distance. On day three, I travelled three-quarters of the remaining distance. On the fourth day, I travelled one half of the remaining distance. On the fifth day, I was left with 5 kilometers left to travel. How far is it from that beachfront to Padada in total?


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