Social media is now known as one of the best communication medium for us all over the world. Even during the quake, a friend was surprised that updating my Facebook was the first thing I did. It definitely was. That was after recovering from a mini-heart attack due to a major quake waking you up early in the morning. The point though is not only to let people know that you are in trouble but also to organize immediate response campaigns that could benefit the victims of these calamities.
In a country like the Philippines, disaster response is something that the Red Cross has perfected. Even volunteer groups and communities are getting good at organizing relief efforts at the snap of a finger. Even President Noynoy, who was very slow in showing up during Typhoon Sendong, was already one of the first to send help and show up during the Earthquake disaster in Bohol and Cebu.
This list below is collected from the things learned during #oneforiligan and #EarthquakePH campaigns that happened in 2011 and 2013 respectively. I decided to do a roundup like this since some people and organizations are asking how they might be able to help in times like these.
Here are the top 12 disaster immediate responses or needs that Filipinos have. Also basis for campaigns that you can create during Philippine calamities. Not in the order of priority.
1. Information hashtag
During the Sendong calamity that hit Iligan and Cagayan, I was one of the prime movers for immediate relief operations and donation. We coursed the campaign through the hashtag #oneforiligan. It became the main call to action for those who are looking for information and for those who needed help after that fateful night in Iligan City. It was a campaign that was immediately activated. I am in Cebu. The calamity was in Iligan and CDO.
This month when the 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol, civic groups and volunteers created their own information hashtags ranging from #BangonBohol, #BangonSugbohol, #TabangCebu, #TabangBohol. But with the official PH communications office declaring the official hashtag to #EarthquakePH, it became the main tag to use to monitor updates from all over the country.
To volunteer groups who want to make their own campaign, it’s great. But using the government’s official hashtag is still better to unite efforts.
2. Relief goods drop off centers
Along with the news of a disaster, people from all over the country want to find out where to send their help in kind. This is one great chance for enterprises to volunteer their offices as drop off centers. Aside from the usual radio and TV stations becoming a portal for donations, sending help via organized communities who have assembled their own relief efforts is also encouraged. Just make sure that you are donating to a legitimate campaign.
Top needs during disasters:
- First aid
- Personal hygiene items
3. Donations in cash
Same with donating in kind, donating in cash shouldn’t be hard as organizations who organize efforts will sure be there to announce ways to donate. There’s always Red Cross if you prefer to be safe with your donations in cash
Volunteers will be needed for a lot of things. If you are feeling generous for your time and effort, you can join relief campaigns to help in organizing, repacking goods, and delivering them to the locations.
In our case, since we are doing information drives, we usually need people to help enter information on spreadsheets and documents. Not too sexy compared to posing with relief goods but definitely still helpful in the process.
5. Free call (libre-tawag) centers
Companies like SMART and GLOBE organize disaster response teams and collaborate with civic groups and on-ground communities to activate help. The tawag center is one way for these companies to help out. They setup free call centers so that victims can call their loved ones in the Philippines and around the world.
In activating community efforts, a point person is usually given load ranging from Php 500 – 1,000 to be a point person for free calls.
6. Map for extent of damages
During the #EarthquakePH campaign, the GBG Cebu and GDG Cebu communities created a community-curated map that contains information on where the places are that have damages due to the quake. This is was a specially created map that anyone can make via Google Maps Engine.
At the moment, gov.ph – the official website of the PH government – is using the map on their quake updates page.
View Cebu-Bohol Earthquake Crisis and Relief Map v.2 in a larger map
7. Map for areas that need help and rescue missions
Along with extent for damages, people who contact their loved ones and ask for specific help are plotted on a map. This is another overlay of the map mention in #6. Requests for help usually circulate in social media with a contact person’s name, location, contact number, and exact help needed.
8. Evacuation centers list and map
Homes washed away due to flooding or due to the homes devasted by the quake will definitely displace families in the area. Usually, the list of evacuation centers would include schools, gymnasiums, and basketball courts in a barangay.
The problem with some evacuation centers though is that they might be too far for help’s reach. Some need helicopters or boats to reach mountainous or very far regions. These vehicles are also helpful for places where roads are blocked due to landslides.
9. Google’s Missing Person Finder
The Google Person Finder is a tool from Google that helps people report missing persons in their area during disasters. This was last activated during the floods in Manila and was was also activated during the Sendong calamity. However, due to the low number of missing persons in the recent #EarthquakePH disaster in Bohol, it was not activated.
10. Medical missions
Medical practitioners are usually the forefronts in relief missions for those who want to organize one. People will not only need food and shelter but also from sicknesses like colds and cough from staying outside their homes and being exposed to weather conditions. During Sendong, top needs included the vaccines like anti-tetanus and vaccine for leptospirosis.
11. Anti-human trafficking campaigns
I just recently added this #11 because of an update I had about human trafficking on Facebook.
12. Concerts for a cause
This is self-explanatory. Purpose is to generate donations in cash and kind. A recent example is one organized by top influencers in Cebu.
Choose from any or a combination of the 12 relief efforts or ways that you can help whenever disaster strikes in the PH and you’ll be one of the heroes that emerge during the crisis. Trust me. 🙂 Iligan Bloggers Society members became heroes because of a combination of these.