Yolanda, Rolly, and Ondoy, these are the names of the strongest typhoons which landed over the past decade. Hearing these names not only remind me of the typhoons but their severe impacts on the lives of affected Filipino families. Many livelihoods were destroyed, and even lives were lost. Further, it is no stranger to Filipinos the country is often visited by natural disasters, especially typhoons, but one may still ask – why is the Philippines prone to typhoons? Before answering this question, let us know more about the geographic location of the country.
The Philippines’ Geographic Location
The ultimate reason why the Philippines is prone to typhoons is its geographic location. The country is in Southeast Asia in the western part of the Pacific Ocean. It is also an archipelago consisting of roughly 7,000 islands and islets. Moreover, the western side of the Pacific Ocean is considered to have the warmest ocean temperatures in the world. These warm ocean temperature fuels the formation of storms which later develops into hurricanes or typhoons depending on their wind speed. Adding the effects of climate change, the temperature continues to rise thus speeding up the formation of storms in the western part of the Pacific Ocean.
Contributing Factors in the Severity of Typhoon’s Impact
Despite being situated in a typhoon-prone location, other factors caused more detrimental effects whenever a typhoon lands in the Philippines. Here are some of the factors contributing to the extreme impact of typhoons:
Trees do not only help in producing oxygen and filtering carbon dioxide. It also aids in preserving our lands through its roots which hold the soil in place to prevent erosions. However, humans continue to cut trees for urban development or for other self-centered purposes. Moreover, the logging of trees reduced the strength of our lands. As a result, even weak storms cause landslides or mudslides. Such geophysical disaster contributes to the death toll and destruction of livelihood of people. Instead of withstanding the storm and typhoons, the residents near the deforested lands worry about the landslides which may happen anytime even with weak storms that approaches.
2. Near-Coast Houses
Since the Philippines is an archipelago, a lot of areas are near bodies of water, particularly rivers and bays. Storm surge is one of the incidental effects of typhoons. The abnormal rise in sea level endangers Filipinos and their homes near bodies of water together with the strong winds and rains caused by the typhoon. It is highly probable that the occurrence of such washes away anyone or anything near the location.
3. Poor Population
The Philippines is classified as a third-world country hence a huge part of the population is included in the low-income class. The low amount of financial resources of the poor population made them decide to reside in coastal regions in which the cost of living is lesser by a huge fraction compared to urban living. However, their homes are not built to last the disasters that may potentially happen especially during typhoons.
Actual Impacts of the Strongest Typhoons in PH
In 2013, typhoon Yolanda landed in the Philippines. It is considered one of the strongest typhoons that hit the Philippines over the past decades. Its landfall severely destructed the island of Leyte wherein approximately 90% of its area was washed away due to the typhoon and other incidental disasters. Moreover, a death toll of roughly 6,000 and 1,800 people missing was reported. Despite the typhoon’s strength, other disasters such as landslides and storm surges worsened the consequences of the typhoon. Homes were washed away by floods Trees were destroyed by the strong winds. The entire area, even people, was covered with mud due to landslides. People cannot be easily rescued by the government and appropriate aid cannot be easily transported due to the foregoing effects of the disasters and failure to mitigate the risks before the worst happened.
Disaster Management in the Philippines
At this point, the real question is not why the Philippines is prone to typhoons. Rather, why is the country too vulnerable to losses and destruction in every disaster it encounters? Another point to consider is the disaster management of the country.
Generally, disaster management is an activity taken by the government in response to the potential disasters to happen in the country. It includes preparatory and recovery plans to mitigate the risk and promote swift recovery of Filipino households as the happening of such is inevitable. Only its impact can be reduced to a lower degree with proper preparation and good rehabilitation programs. Although, it is a two-way process, especially on the preparatory side. However, Filipinos worry about their homes and livelihood in their decision to evacuate. Maybe the people are more leaning towards positivity that the disasters will not happen and if such happens, that is the only time they will evacuate.
In addition, despite the large funding established for disaster preparedness, evacuation facilities were a problem in these trying times. The rehabilitation programs were not feasible enough to swiftly recover from the detrimental impact of a disaster. Hence, proper designing of programs is a must combined with adequate efforts for research and development to provide a competent recovery plan for these inevitable disasters. Such catastrophic event, especially typhoons, are not new to the people. However, the action plan and cooperation from the Filipinos are not in sync which further worsens the consequences of these catastrophic events. Hence, significant improvements in disaster management to ease the detriments of such happenings.
Self-Preparedness for Typhoons and Other Disasters
Not everything can be relied upon by the government and its agency to mitigate the risks brought by the potential disasters, especially typhoons, which may be experienced by a Filipino. Knowing why Philippines is prone to typhoons is not the only answer to reducing the losses and destruction brought by natural disasters. With this, a Filipino must increase one’s awareness on the worst scenarios in the happening of these catastrophes. Each must keep in mind that disasters are inevitable events. Therefore, the preparedness required is one’s presence of mind to take the proper signals when to evacuate to reduce the potential damages each may experience. Proper education suffices such training of the mind to be mentally ready for quick decision making during the happening of catastrophes. It must be put into proper importance that lives matter more than a livelihood.
In addition, for those with financial capacity, it is good to avail a good yet affordable house and lot to secure your family with a home even if typhoons happen. Bria Homes, it enables every family, even those with financial limits, to gain access to real estate ownership. Not only that quality homes offer safety and security during disasters, but Bria and its experts devoted time and effort to produce a quality home for Filipinos to suit their lifestyle and the country’s geographic location.
Drastic Changes in Earth and Its Implication
The geographic location might be considered the primary reason why the Philippines is prone to typhoons. However, climate change poses more danger in the upcoming years since one of the factors in the formation of typhoons is high temperature. With this, we may presume that from the average of 20 typhoons a year, it may be greater and happen all year long. Henceforth, it is safer to act in a favorable manner to improve the planet. Catastrophic events are inevitable. There is no easy way to combat such acts of God although its severity can be reduced to a tolerable level. Therefore, planting trees and switching to organic methods of living are the things to keep in mind as we continue to live on this planet. This is not only for us but for the future generation.
All things being said, it is more appropriate to ask, “what caused the detrimental impacts of such disasters?” aside from asking why the Philippines is prone to typhoons. Asking such questions gives you a hint that it is not the catastrophic event that makes the situation worse but rather the people living in the affected area. From there, proper precautionary measures and rehabilitation programs for our planet can be made. As shepherds of this planet, every individual is responsible in lengthening the planet’s life and restore it to a state which makes it place more livable for us and the future generation.
Written by Steven Hernandez