by Wilson J. Hormeguera
drrmIn celebration of the Research and Social Outreach Month, Xavier University through Kristohanong Katilingban sa Pagpakabana – Social Involvement Office (KKP-SIO), the advocacy arm and lead office of XU-DRRM Response Cluster, hosted the CDO Disaster Response Conference with the theme: “Kagayanong Pakigbulig: Lessons, Challenges, and Ways Forward” on February 5, 2014 at AV 1, Old Library of Xavier University Main Campus.

The “Kagayanong Pakigbulig” is the CDO multi-sectoral team, composing of 146 volunteers, that went on response mission to Leyte on December 16 – 22, 2014, that was at the at the height for the call of help for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda which took a great number of lives and caused an estimated $700 million in damage to agriculture and infrastructure, and completely destroyed more than half a million homes.

Rev. Fr. Raul Dael, professor of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and animator of the Tabang Yolanda missions, gave the conference keynote speech.  Fr. Dael stresses on the importance of physical unified presence of the volunteers, as exemplified by the Kagayanong Pakigbulig, during disaster response as this bring God’s loving presence to both the survivors and the volunteers.

The first part of the conference is composed of presentations of the lessons learned by each Kagayanong Pakigbulig clusters which are Medical cluster, Psycho-social cluster, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) cluster, Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDaNA) cluster, relief Operation and the Organizational Support in which KKP-SIO served as secretariat.  Respectively, the presenters of these clusters were Dr. Art Surdilla of CDO for Peace, Ms. Maita Ignacio of XU Psychology Department, Ms. Meiyoshi Masgon of XU SUSAN Center, Engr. Joefferdale Gallamaso of XU-ERC, Mr. Nestor Banuag Jr. and Ms. Maria Farina Roa of KKP-SIO.   

The second part of the conference is the identification of the best practices, gaps, challenges, and ways forward of the multi-sectoral mission.  The participants, who were leaders of the response mission, representatives from the civil-society groups, academe, and the riverside barangays, were divided in workshop groups according to the different clusters of the multi-sectoral team.

Engr. Ermin Stan B. Pimentel, KKP director and fore-runner of XU’s quick response initiatives, synthesized the workshop output.  Basing on the plenary presentations after the workshop, the conference has seen the challenge of expanding the multi-sectoral network allowing other groups to participate and augment the needed volunteers of the clusters.  It has also acknowledged that the advantage of Kagayanong Pakigbulig is that it is expertised-based with Volunteers who are experts who can readily share knowledge and help. Each cluster has standards and guidelines to follow and the appropriate technology that fit the needs of affected areas.  Lastly, the conference has seen the need to capacitate the survivors of the mission area.  The technology introduced during the mission can only be sustained if the users are well trained.  

Engr. Pimentel emphasized that “Technology must be introduced to barangays to be able to incorporate these in their barangay councils’ disaster plans since barangays are the primary considerations whenever a disaster strikes. Locals must know how to operate the given technologies. People should not be dependent on relief operations during disasters. Rather, they should able to prepare for disasters.”  On the importance of capacity building in the affected areas, Engr. Pimentel points out, “Once we capacitate, we can be sustainable.”

In response to the conference’s recommendations, Engr. Vergil Lago, representing the chief of the City DRRMO, said that the City Mayor will surely support the multi-sectoral missions.

XU-DRRM Team through KKP-SIO and XU Press shall produce the conference documents which shall serve as bases for further better engagement of all the volunteers, sectors, and stakeholders of the multi-sectoral response initiative of Cagayan de Oro City and beyond.


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