NRCP team distributes relief goods in Santa Maria, Isabela.

Ulysses, the worst typhoon to strike Cagayan region after 40 years, left thousands in need of drastic support – from basic household essentials to livelihood restoration and development.

In support of the Typhoon Ulysses’ victims, the National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) conducted relief operations in Isabela and Cagayan on November 21-22, 2020. The said activity is aligned with the national government’s “Whole-of-Nation-Approach” in disaster relief and response.

The NRCP team distributed more than 400 packs of relief supplies in Santa Maria, Isabela and Iguig, Cagayan. Both provinces are among the worst affected areas due to flooding.

“We are thankful that a lot of people helping especially that the typhoon destroyed our livelihood and properties. Because of the overwhelming support, I can say that we can recover faster from this tragedy,” shared Bella Laggui, a local of Santa Maria.
She also cited that there were no casualties in the area as the local authorities issued early advisory.

Local perceptions of the disaster

Vast swathes of Isabela were submerged by the swelling waters of Cagayan River.

A community covered in mud after the severe flooding that struck Isabela.

Barangay Kagawad Ethel Dakkil of Quinagabyan in Santa Maria shared that Magat Dam’s release of water contributed to the severity of the floods, aside from continuous rainfall brought by typhoon Ulysses.

“This is the worst flood we’ve experienced as it reached 15 feet and devastated our homes and crops such as corn and rice,” said Dakkil.

What needs to be done

A local shares her insights about the flooding.

Dakkil recommended that the government should establish evacuation centers and prepare motorboats for similar occurrences in the future.

Likewise, Ms Hazel Pascua, a municipal staff at Iguig, said there is a need to relocate inhabitants of low-lying communities and to improve preemptive evacuation strategies.

“We already had initial meetings, wherein we discussed where we can set up a relocation center for our vulnerable communities,” Pascua added, citing that many still live near or along the banks of the Cagayan River.

Meanwhile Barangay Kagawad Milagros Abad of Santa Rosa in Iguig, mentioned that the government should stop logging activities in Sierra Madre and intensify tree planting on its denuded slopes.

“Sana po mabigyan din kami ng government assistance para marestore ang aming mga sakahan. Kahit sana libreng butil at fertilizers man lang,” added Dakkil, citing that agriculture is the main livelihood of the locals.

A continuing endeavor

NRCP team with the local government unit (LGU) officials in Iguig, Cagayan.

The said relief operation is part of NRCP’s initiatives to realize its volunteering program as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility and the Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) program.

Previously, it conducted a similar activity in typhoon Rolly-battered municipalities in Bicol region. NRCP plans to organize a volunteering group next year to capacitate the youths on pressing societal concerns and engage the NRCP personnel on community immersion.

“It was an amazing experience to be part of the NRCP Relief Operation. The satisfaction and fulfillment I felt during the relief operation was very memorable,” expressed Jhunel Aquino, an NRCP personnel who joined the activity.