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18 Days at the River Banks

The search operations for the missing teenagers of Lower Wangal La Trinidad has reached Day 18 on Monday, September 02, 2019 where one of the two was found. I had Mixed emotions of Joy and Fear upon learning the discovery of the volunteer groups later that day. I was thankful but not to celebrate yet, as many things has to be considered to manage the dead in the lens of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.

But first, remember that before day 18 was August 29 and 30, 2019 when our responders, led by Elgin Bulcio, LDRRMO I of La Trinidad, went down as far as Bagulin, La Union to conduct the Search operations there. This strategy was employed and implemented because after Sablan, the Balili River connects to Bagulin River. The conduct of Search operations there will also clear out speculations of possibility that those missing teens are there. All responders checked-in for that mission stayed overnight at the Municipal Hall of Baguilin, courtesy of Bagulin Mayor Virgilio Flor and the People of Bagulin. Salamat Apo.

On August 30, 2019, we accompanied Mayor Romeo K. Salda who wanted to visit his IMT and operatives at Bagulin. Upon our arrival, a courtesy meeting was conducted between the two chief executives. Really, the Municipality of Bagulin was eager to extend all possible help they could provide for this mission. When we met our search operations IMT and volunteers in their Incident Command Post (ICP), we observed that they are already exhausted, given the conditions of hot temperature, even the K9-s seems to show stress levels at that point. So, Immediately, after all objectives was met, the Responsible Official for this operation, Mayor Romeo Salda, immediately ordered demobilization of La Trinidad Resources and everyone returned to La Trinidad base.

So there were at least two-day rest days for our search operations volunteers. And on Monday, day 18, one of the missing persons was found. It was actually 4:00 PM on that day, the time of pull-out, when a volunteer from the Talingguroy group saw a hand where he thought was just a part of the garbage found therein. Perhaps due to fatigue and low morale, he forgot about possibilities. But after a moment, he went back with his buddy and confirmed it to be a human body part, covered with a lot Garbage, through a touch. All efforts were then concentrated on that area and the garbage was removed, thus, revealing the body which is unidentifiable. No marks, No clothes, just bare.

Management of the Dead and Missing comes to play. After the body was extricated, it was placed in a body bag and brought to Benguet General Hospital Morgue. The discovered body cannot be identified by their relatives because both missing teens were allegedly of the same weight and height. Just to make sure that the body is correctly identified, the services of the Crime Lab of the Philippine National Police was requested. The Results, however, needs to be processed and will be available after some time.

The discovery of the body on Day 18 was like a gas poured onto the fire of dedication in wanting to find the other missing teen. It enhanced the eagerness of our volunteers after an 18-day heartbreaks. I personally witnessed them losing hope in the same way I almost lost mine. Now I know better; that search operations of this duration requires a lot more than just a morale booster – it requires a lot of support.


The Habagat has brought us pain. Aside from damages in the farms, two teenagers went missing. A worst situation in a community that we don’t want to happen-and as much as we want to find them quickly after they were reported as missing, the circumstances warrant otherwise. The Waters in the river was violent and turbid – a sign of danger to our rescue teams.

It hurts us the way it hurts their relatives and the community because the only possible action is to wait until the river subsides. But waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. In this period, the La Trinidad Accredited Community Disaster Volunteers (LTACDV) are with the employees of the La Trinidad LGU doing the necessary plans. Not everyone knows this which makes them derive the assumption that their government is not doing anything. But this action is the important part of the search operation after all.

The earlier days of operations was under the responsibility of the Local Government Unit of Barangay Wangal. The La Trinidad MDRRMC won’t go anywhere far as they are still in-charge of Logistics and Safety. This is part of the strategies and tactics because these kind of search operations on rivers with rocks and boulders may extend as long as the missing persons are found. The locals went on to the option of water contact to search inside the waters. At one point, they were requesting for scuba gears. We have available gears, however, our safety officer said no. Technicalities revealed that using such gear would increase risk because the river might just easily pull them in.

As the search goes down below Barangay Wangal, political boundary suggests the use of area command mechanism. Barangay Bineng Officials offered their capacity and services to augment search operations efforts within their area of responsibility. They even took the responsibility to coordinate with their neighboring Barangay Banengbeng in the Municipality of Sablan for the next schedule of the operation soon. A commendable act of helping a fellow LGU in need.

While the operations are on-going, help were coming. City DRRM of Baguio came when they were requested by the relatives to help. K9 teams of the BFP and PNP were also utilized. Donations from various organizations and Agencies were received. And community volunteers are continuously coming in.

There is hope! And part of our job is to keep it burning and make it happen! Just Before Tropical Depression Jenny comes in, the search teams are working at Barangay Kamog, Sablan. The plan has to be implemented before Jenny changes the course of the river just yet.

Commendation is due to all those who continuously support the DRRM Search Operations for our missing brothers from Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet. Barangay Wangal and Barangay Bineng Officials, tanods, and community members in particular, displayed best example of helping one another which I will never forget. May their example inspire other Local Government Units to do the same, not just during disasters, but in everyday living.

To the relatives and friends of our dear missing brothers, your Municipal DRRM will always support you in all possible and safe means, to find them. Let’s help each other, and together, we shall succeed.

Can we be Disaster Free?

In November, Benguet Province’s festival ‘Adivay’ was celebrated with a heavy heart, but full of hope, as it reminds us to be strong after the disaster, through its theme: “Benguet Culture – Unity, Industry, Prosperity: Managing Adversities with excellence thru enhanced Indigenous Resilience”. The celebration was full of traditional prayers for a single goal: A Disaster free Benguet in the future.

In order to attain the goal, you can always help. In your own simple way, manage or eliminate the Hazard you see, so that nothing will ever become a Disaster. This is what the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of La Trinidad is doing now through various programs, projects, and activities. When the hazard can’t be eliminated, at least make everyone prepare for its adverse effects or ensure the resiliency of the community.

But before anything yet, I think there is still a confusion on what the word Hazards and Disasters means to everyone. As I always emphasize during my lectures on topics for Preparedness, we do not want to use the word ‘Disaster’. This word is only used to indicate that there is Loss of Lives and Damages to Properties that happened, and we don’t want that, or do you?

So what word concerns you?

Disasters are caused by Hazards. So, when you don’t want a Disaster, you have to know a lot about Hazards, talk about it, manage it properly, or, better yet, eliminate it.

Hazards are those that can cause a Disaster. There can be no Disaster if there are no Hazards. Steep slopes around your home’s yard is an example. Hanging boulders, Denudated Forests, Clogged Canals, Dilapidated Roofs of your house, Electrical Wirings, etc. are some. When these are not managed, eliminated, or fixed, it may cause severe damage which will already be called a Disaster.

Now, since the Philippines is Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and Pacific Typhoon Belt, we do have a lot of bigger hazards to manage, aside from those mentioned above. Weather Disturbances such as Typhoons is on the top list, followed by Earthquakes, and Volcanic Eruptions.

Of course you cannot stop Typhoons or earthquakes. But you can still do something so that these Hazards won’t become a Disaster. You can always prepare! There is a lot of time before a Hazard becomes a Disaster (if it should). Recall TY Ompong – Public advisories were disseminated and preparations were done before it arrived. Class Suspended, Liquor Banned, etc., even when there is no rain yet, to give time to preparations for the hazards, so it won’t cause a Disaster.

Your preparations in your home is the first best thing to do to prevent a disaster from happening: Know your Hazard; Transfer your valuable things where there’s no flooding; Always ensure free flow of water on Canals; Construct your slope protections on steep slopes; Purchase supplies and equipment that you need; Have a Go Bag that is available anytime; be sure to have the complete set of emergency numbers to call, just in case; and better evacuate as early when the typhoon has not yet arrived. Consider your experience during TY Ompong. Remember that Balili River overflowed causing flood in the Valley and mountains saturated causing massive landslide everywhere.

Prepare your Farms too: Fix its drainage system, Use materials that can resist strong wind and rains, reduce steep slopes, and avail of available crop insurance to make sure that you will have something to start with, in case hazards will damage your crops. (You may contact The Office of the Municipal Agriculturist for assistance).

When in other areas you are not so familiar with, (i.e. Swimming pools, Beach, Resorts, Training Halls, Restaurants, Hotels, Tourist Destinations, etc.) prioritize to learn the hazards upon arrival and know how to get away from them by looking for possible escape routes and emergency numbers.

Preventing Disaster is possible when Hazards are managed. Start the practice this Yuletide Season. Avoid the hazards, or eliminate them, and your Celebration will be the best that it can be.

Benguet School of Arts and Trades is… Where?

I grew up in the Rural Community of Ambangeg, Bokod, Philippines and finished my High School at the Benguet School of Arts and Trades, or Commonly known as BSAT-the educator in this part of the world before and of the Millenials where a lot of Teachers today have graduated.

My High School Building

Right after the 1990 earthquake, this makeshift building was constructed to replace those that collapsed. It is located at the center portion of the entire school. When I last visited it last week, it was still there but is not being used. The partitions inside were already removed.

As I take a peek of its inside, the memories with my classmates in it came right into me. Amazing High School life. The plays I did, experiments, exams, presentations, games, parties, dances, lessons, teachers, and of course the love stories were recalled there with those shiny plain cement floor. Haha!

The Basketball Court

Outside is the Star Player maker: The Basketball Court. This court is where I learned how to play basketball. Since my elementary days, after school, we come here and play. Even when at the hottest-mid-day, we ran, we shoot, we play. Its floor was also rough that it causes bruises when we fall.

The Binnejayeng

At the southern portion is the famous Binnejayeng Lake. Mysterious that this lake never lost its water.

It was around it that I learned to farm. The open areas were once our school garden. Every Student has an assigned area to plant. I personally planted gabi and sitting beans on my slot and harvested them too.

BSAT now

Today, BSAT is now under the Benguet State University and they call it their Bokod Campus (BSU Bokod Campus). It was made so because it was thought that it will offer other College Courses for the students option. Perhaps it will happen in the Future.

Nevertheless, if you are an alumni of this school, it is always worth revisiting. It is still there 🙂


Proving things in life needs a whole lot of sacrifice. And we all know that sacrifice comes along with pain and hatreds. But, one man’s desire cannot be turned-off by merely flushing it with an extinguisher. Warm coal always insists to burn out from inside just to prove that he could achieve its ambition.

            I am but a normal person whose ideas are of the standard but ambitious. In this stage of my living, I find it hard to find what I have been longing to see. When I was a little younger, I thought education and work are all that matters. I failed to see the heart that pumps and warms the soul. The heart that would pair mine to face the world, make my dreams into reality, and might even help me cross the sea.

            But finding the heart will never be easy. Women always believe that a man sets standards of whom they would want to be with. And, yes, who wouldn’t? Even women do, but not on same scale. As for me, I thought a perfect woman would be someone firm of her thoughts and ideals with a mind set of attaining her goal. That no matter what surrounds her, she is focused on what she wants to do and what she wants to achieve for herself and most importantly, to her family. Sounds unrealistic? Consider me Ambitious.

             Everybody has his own ambition in life. And at this very moment, mine is simple-Finding her. Many are astonished of the time I’ve already spent, but then, I still insist of not rushing. There is no room for mistakes on this issue. I heard a lot of stories that proved my theory of finding the right one. While some changed my belief, others strengthened it. So, I thought, I just have to hang on. And patience didn’t upset me when I came to know someone who brought back my belief and ideals of finding the right one.

            If I have to tell you, I met someone who is so focused and powerful but fun and happy. The very moment she told me of her primary objective in doing school made me bow down to her. Their Family has always been her priority and she would do things out of the ordinary to make her family happy. While cultivating her mind at school, she worked to buy the needed fertilizer of her wisdom. She is intelligent and truehearted much more that she is beautiful. She never shows weakness to people for she believes in herself. She often laughs at me for she thinks that I am weaker than she is. But, I know what she means. And I understand. Situations aren’t just that cordial to her. If I got the right picture, she is challenged. She carries her family on her shoulder trying to mobilize it from a place of uncertainty to a more relaxing area on her own. By her focus, she doesn’t want to show any weakness or signs of surrender for it might disturb her. That’s why I settled for another ambition – To help her in any way I can. Not the kind of help which I might distract her for I know how hard to carry such a load. Just clearing her way going there or carrying her load at rest, or anything she might request as to where or how she wants me to be.

            In a sensible mind, I am compulsive. I am hoping that my ambition would come true. The fact that I met someone beautiful, truehearted, intelligent and dedicated to her goals partially fulfilled my ambition. But there has to be more. If I am the best swimmer in the world, I am not satisfied of merely finding the dam. Fulfillment can only be felt when I swam across the dam.

Viewing Poblacion Bokod from the Deck

When you travel to the North towards Mt. Pulag, Daklan Sulfur Spring or to the Municipality of Kabayan, you will pass by Barangay Poblacion of the Municipality of Bokod, Benguet Province. You can see its bird’s eye view on a View Deck uphill, named Bokod View Deck.

But, the view there is not just a sight for the people living in Bokod. It symbolizes resiliency and hard work after the 1990 Killer Earthquake.

The Story

Before the 1990 Earthquake, the area shown in the picture above was purely rice fields. Not a single residential structure was built there. They just built their residential houses after.

The earthquake actually caused massive erosion on the mountains around the place. And when the typhoons came, it washed out the soils and brought it all the way to the residential areas below. They experience mud flow everywhere like there was a volcanic eruption somewhere.

When they noticed that their rice field areas were not affected, they decided to construct their homes there as a relocation site for them. They now called their new home “Bagong Barrio”.

On the Ground

Today, they lived beside their farm, with irrigation canals and all but with some fruit-bearing trees now.

Others plant seasonal vegetables such as Cauliflower today, Tomatoes Tomorrow while Rice is maintained in some.

What’s New?

On the far end of Bagong Barrio is an area called “Damojak” wherein you can find a Swimming pool. You can refresh yourself there, maybe on your return trip after visiting Mount Pulag or Daklan Sulfur Spring any time of the day upon payment of regular fees.

Explore more! See you there! 🙂

Catos – Delmas Nuptial

On December 22, 2018, I attended the awaited wedding of my cousin Faye Delmas at Boneco (Before Binga), Itogon, Benguet. She exchanged wedding vows with Mr. Ceasar Catos.

They used Gold as their wedding’s motif and utilized their yard for their Garden Wedding.

Aside from the yard for the wedding rites, there is a separate Dining Area for the Sponsors Downstairs as shown in the next Picture:

Of course the wedding Cake forms part of the highlight. Here’s my Cellphone shot of it:

Congrats on your Wedding! May you continue to find those that makes you happy! Again, Congratulations, Best Wishes and God Bless!

The Mansion House in Baguio City

One of the places frequently visited when in Baguio City is the Mansion house-the home of the President of the Republic of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

I was given an opportunity to enter this house and see some things inside.


Accordingly, the Mansion House was constructed on 1908. It was used to be the Summer Residence of American Governors-General. Destroyed in 1945 during the war for Liberation but immediately restored in 1947.

The Mansion also served as venue of World Leaders meeting such as the Economic Commission of Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) in 1947, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1948, and South East Asia Union (SEAU) in 1950.

The main road view from Inside of the House


I entered the Mansion House for the first time during the Cordillera RDC meeting. Its ambiance is Classic. The original form is preserved and it has a wide area for meetings. Of course, portraits of the Presidents of the Philippine Republic is displayed all around.

The Mansion House is indeed a historical place to visit. It keeps parts of the History of the Philippines.

LTMEA on Christmas Day 2018

After my task in yesterday’s Provincial Capitol Performances, I was today’s Master of Ceremony with Ms. Claudette Krayle Palayo in the La Trinidad Municipal Employees Association (LTMEA) Year-end Evaluation and Team Building Activity. It’s part of my Job as a Public Relations Officer of the Association.

The program started with a Eucharistic Celebration then followed by the main program of Team Building Activities which includes Group Performances of Talented Employees in the Local Government Unit. This is part of building camaraderie among office mates as everyone was assigned a role to perform in today’s activity.

The Performers:

1. Office of the Sangguniang Bayan

2. Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office

3. Municipal Health Services Office

4. Municipal Planning & Development Office

5. Municipal Treasurer’s Office

6. Municipal Assessor’s Office

7. Municipal Budget Office, Legal Services Office & BAC Combined

8. Mayor’s Office

9. Municipal Accounting Office

10. Municipal Engineering Office (Best Performers)

11. Office of the Municipal Agriculturist (Best Performers)

Raffle Draws

There were also raffle draws. A LED TV as the first price, Two Washing Machines given to two individuals, a cooking set, Gas Stoves, four – Half Cavan Rice, Cellphones, Radios, a table Furniture, and Blankets.

Parlor Games

This has been another LTMEA Activity planned and implemented for all the employees. Thank you very much for the donors and we had another great one this year.

I hope everyone enjoyed the program with me and Claudette there hosting.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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