Students of flood-prone school in Oro trained in disaster preparedness

Feb. 28, 2018

(Photo from Smart Communities’ Facebook page)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – In response to the flooding that had inundated the entire campus of a state-run university based here in the past, a telecommunications firm has reached out to students of this school to capacitate them to take action in case of a disaster.

During a low pressure area (LPA) early last year, hundreds students of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) main campus in Cagayan de Oro were stranded and had to stay in the school’s high-rise buildings as they could not get out due to rampaging floodwaters.

It is for this reason that Smart Communications chose USTP as recipient of the emergency response and management training designed to equip the students with skills so they could act accordingly in times of calamities, especially floods.

USTP is located in a high-risk zone as frequent “urban flooding” incidents have occurred in the area in the past.

According to Smart, the activity is part of the company’s “Tropang Ready” program, a nationwide caravan of Smart’s TNT brand, which tours schools in the Philippines to teach the youth and their “tropa” (friends) the importance of disaster preparedness.

TNT Tropang Ready is an initiative under Smart’s advocacy for a Safe Philippines or #SafePH, which promotes preparedness through mobile solutions and on-ground activities to help communities mitigate disaster risks.

The TNT Tropang Ready was actually the second installment of the training conducted by Smart in USTP as more than two thousand of its students underwent the first phase a few weeks after the flooding in 2017.

The event last year featured discussions on disaster preparedness by emergency management experts and representatives from the local government, disaster risk reduction and management office, University of the Philippines Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (UP Noah) Center, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), among other agencies.

For this year, participants underwent the training of trainers given by experts in the field, Louie Domingo and Tan Palma, of the Emergency Management Center, where they taught the students how to prepare and what to do during typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, and other disasters.

Among the lessons given to the students were first aid and self-defense techniques, and pointers on how to assemble a “Go Bag” or an “e-Balde,” an emergency kit meant to help an individual or a family survive the next few days following a calamity.

The kit includes canned food, water, flashlight, batteries, cell phone and an umbrella, among other essential items.

Ramon Isberto, PLDT and Smart public affairs head, said the youth have an important role in disaster preparedness.

“They have the mobility, the skills, the technological know-how – they have what it takes to spread the culture of preparedness,” Isberto said.

The TNT Tropang Ready, said Nova Concepcion, Smart community partnerships senior manager, aims to turn the youth into ambassadors of preparedness in their own communities.

“We are also working to help include disaster preparedness in the educational curriculum,” Concepcion said, noting that the goal of the workshop was to enable the students to conduct trainings in their own communities as part of their school’s extension program.

For Elizagen Magaro, 26, a fourth-year Technology and Communication Management (TCM) student at USTP, the TNT Tropang Ready was helpful not just for her but also for her family.

Magaro said the workshop was helpful in that she now knows what to do in time of disasters.

“The training is very important for me. Now I know how to respond and not panic in the event of, say, a flood. It would also help me save my own life or others who might need assistance,” she said. (

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