University of the Philippines resilience experts
Collapsed building in Davao City. Credits to Mahar Lagmay

The University of the Philippines is deploying its experts and harnessing resources to help Mindanao areas struck by massive earthquakes in October that rendered many areas under the State of Calamity.

Following the successive magnitude 6.5 quake and 6.6 aftershock in the last days of October, the UP community immediately set up donation drives throughout its campuses in Diliman, Los Banos, Manila, Baguio, Cebu, Visayas, and Mindanao.

This week Mahar Lagmay, Executive Director of the UP Resilience Institute (UPRI) and NOAH Center, is leading the UP team currently deployed in the earthquake-stricken areas following the request of the province of Cotabato for the state university to help enhance rescue and relief efforts given by national government agencies.

UP President Danilo Concepcion was requested by Acting Vice Governor Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva of Cotabato Province to send UPRI experts and resources that the official said, “may be able to alleviate our suffering and overcome our struggles”.

UPRI, in particular, has been requested to provide the following services to Northern Cotabato:

  1. structural damage assessment
  2. geological surveys
  3. psycho-social support for trauma victims

Ahead of the November 6 request of Cotabato, UP had already constituted the Mindanao Earthquake Response Team of UP, headed by Vice President Elena Pernia as Chair with Mahar Lagmay as Co-Chair, to be in charge of planning and coordination of response efforts.

UPRI’s chief Mahar Lagmay revealed to Good News Pilipinas that the university was able to quickly deploy its team as it had already made plans since late October and was only waiting for an official request from officials of the incident command system.

“UP has an extensive pool of experts and resources, which President Danilo Concepcion harnesses to help Filipinos in need such as in times of disaster. It is part of the public service mandate of the University of the Philippines under Republic Act 9500,” said Mahar Lagmay, Executive Director of the UP Resilience Institute and UP NOAH Center.

UP is harnessing its extensive pool of experts and resources to help build a disaster-resilient Philippines. Credits to UPRI.

Immediately after receiving the Cotabato request for assistance, the following action points were noted in the First Meeting of the Mindanao Earthquake Response Team of UP:

  1. UP Resilience Institute team of geologists and assessors to be deployed to Cotabato (via Davao) to conduct a geological assessment and provide feedback
  2. Channeling of cash donations from multiple sources, e.g. UP Alumni Associations to primary UP Foundation, Inc., to fund expenses of project teams that will be deployed in the coming days
  3. UP Pahinungod, through Director Grace Aguiling-Dalisay, to mobilize UP’s psychosocial support group with an initial request to fly a doctor to UP Visayas to meet with the local psychosocial group
  4. UP Padayon has coordinated with UP Mindanao (earthquake response task force for emergency action) for logistical assistance to UPRI team going to and from the command center and during their stay
  5. UP Padayon to coordinate with the Office of the Student Regent and IskoOps/University Student Council to determine the drop off points of organizations with own donation drives and possibly establish one drop off point for all donations from UP

A team of UP structural engineers will also be deployed by this weekend, adds the UPRI chief.

In a related development, the UP Resilience Institute Youth Mappers have issued a call seeking volunteers to help map Mindanao earthquake-stricken areas, with special focus on Tulanan and Kidapawan, North Cotobato, and Magsaysay, Davao Del Sur, in a collaborative Mapathon mapping task scheduled on November 11 from 10 am to 3 pm at the National Institute of Geological Sciences in UP Diliman. Register to help here.

The UP Resilience Institute is also leading the UP System’s efforts in helping develop Manila into a disaster-resilient city.

For updates on their projects and how to volunteer, check out the UP Resilience Institute.

PLEDGE your help and support in the links given above.

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