The Visayas Leg of Handa Pilipinas 2023: Innovations in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Exposition kicked off on 8 November 2023 in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda at the Summit Hotel in Tacloban City, Leyte.
Bearing the theme “STY Yolanda Remembered: Understanding Risks and Preventing Disasters”, the three-day event highlighted the important technological innovations that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has developed when it comes to risk reduction and management, specifically for disaster preparedness, response, rehabilitation, and recovery.
The opening ceremony was attended by participants from local government units, national and regional government agencies, regional disaster risk reduction and management councils, volunteer organizations, non-governmental organizations, members of the academe, and representatives from the private sector.
Persons of note also gave speeches during the ceremony, including DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr., DILG Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr., Leyte Governor Jericho L. Petilla, Tacloban City Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, and most importantly, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr.
“Putting our experience at the heart of this event reminds us of the calamity that brought unimaginable destruction to the Visayas, to the Philippines. It serves as a poignant reminder of the power of nature, and our vulnerability to that power,” said President Marcos Jr. in his speech.
Stressing the need to prepare for any untoward event brought by natural hazards, the President said that there is a need to remember valuable historical information. “More importantly, it underscores the importance of disaster risk reduction and management in the Philippines… We owe it to ourselves and to the future to learn from this experience and make sure that such devastation will be mitigated or, somehow, prevented.”
“The government remains committed to advancing our country’s disaster resilience. Of course, we have to recognize the role of the Department of Science and Technology in this undertaking,” the President continued.
President Marcos Jr. also recognized the many efforts of the DOST in developing modern technologies that will address the natural hazards. “The DOST has been instrumental in developing cutting-edge technologies for disaster risk prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. I am confident that the technologies featured in this event will be of great help during relief and rescue operations… I implore everyone to maximize the use of these technologies, to fast-track the widespread adoption and commercialization.”
Sec. Solidum Jr., likewise, emphasized the significance of building the country’s resilience and how it will help the prosperity and security of the economy.“As we build the Philippines’ resilience, we are making Filipino communities more prosperous and secure than before. In the Department of Science and Technology, we believe that disaster risk reduction and wealth protection yield economic development,” he said in his opening message. “As we commemorate the 10th year anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda today, we are reminded of its lessons and experiences. First, science is the most crucial input to our resilience strategy. Second, science works with the right information, right communication strategy, right action at the right time. Third, we, the whole of nation and society, we all make the science work through our cooperation and collaboration.”
The Visayas leg exhibit of Handa Pilipinas features around 60 technologies. According to Sec. Solidum Jr., it aims to raise public awareness on preventable and solvable problems, and to introduce innovations and Filipino-made technologies that are ready to be maximized by their fullest potential for disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, rehabilitation, and recovery.
“Driven by our people-centric innovations, Handa Pilipinas sa Bagong Pilipinas,” said Sec. Solidum. “With science, technology, and innovation, with our multi-stakeholder collaboration, and the Filipino bayanihan spirit, we can be victors over disasters.”