As of this writing, Northern Luzon is being battered by Super Typhoon Juan (MEGI), raising Storm Signal No 4, the highest level, in the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan. Weather experts have said that Juan is comparable to the super typhoon Rosing (Angela) which ravaged Southern Luzon, Bicol and Metro Manila back in November 1995.
However, the fear brought back by the memories of typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, Milenyo and other past storms that wreaked havoc and caused tragedies were not that strong today. There is relative calm in the past few days and even now as typhoon Juan is making its way across Luzon.
From where I sit, no one is in a panic yet, the Twitter stream I’m following is almost normal. Or maybe because Metro Manila and Southern Luzon has been spared by typhoon Juan? I would still say that there is calm and alertness. Which is better than panic and fear. All of this is due to the early warnings from the PAGASA and other concerned organizations, which made everyone in the areas to be affected by typhoon Juan pro-actively prepared.
PAGASA started a Twitter account which posted hourly updates on the storm’s progress and status. The weather agency even held more press conferences than before, giving as much information as they can that would be of help in the preparation for the coming super typhoon. From all these, reforms in PAGASA seems to have paid off. Though I’m not saying the agency’s previous chief was to blame for its blunders but that’s a different story altogether for another time.
The spotlight now is on the various emergency and rescue units, volunteers, NGOs, local government units and citizens in the affected areas. They too have taken a more pro-active approach to preparing for the worse that is to come. If the casualties and injuries, if there would be any, are much lower than in previous typhoon events, then congratulations to everyone. It proves that finally, we have learned from our past experiences and mistakes.
This would also be good for the Aquino Administration. After a series of blunders in handling emergency and crises situations like the bungled tour bus hostage rescue last August and how it handled the IIRC report, surviving super typhoon Juan with the least or zero casualties will give it a renewed face of confidence and trust in the eyes of public and the perhaps even the international community.
However, the test of super typhoon Juan has just reached its crucial part. We have to wait until everything has cleared and assessments are made before giving the government its final score. Hopefully, it would pass with flying colors.