Tornado hits my neighborhood in New Manila, Quezon City

We were caught by surprise. We were preparing our late breakfast of toasted bread and sunny side-up eggs when suddenly, the winds outside roared angrily, as if crying out, warning us to take refuge. We hurriedly looked outside our kitchen windows and realized those are not ordinary winds…

We were shocked when we went outside to see the fallen trees and electric posts.

Indeed, we are witnessing the brunt of a buhawi (tornado). The angry wind was whirling and pulling and out of fear, JR and I grabbed each other and ran to our bedroom, thinking it was the only safe place where the glass windows are not open. We remember closing the windows last night. Just as we were about to go right inside, we saw that the third window (which we cannot even open before this day) was wide open and, therefore, there will be a danger that it can be pushed by the wind, breaking the glass in the process…so we stayed under the door frame, partially covering ourselves with the door, and prayed loudly, “Lord, please save us!”

We stood there, holding each other, the sounds of the winds and possibly, of roofs and falling trees all around us…All these happened in about ten to fifteen seconds. And then there was quiet.

We checked each other, hugged, and shouted, “Thank you, Lord! Thank you, angels, we are safe!” And then we checked our house. The eggs that JR were cooking are now with twigs and leaves from the trees outside. There were debris of dust, leaves, and twigs everywhere, even on our bed and pillows. My laptop was covered with big particles of dust and soil. All our picture frames on top of the refrigerator toppled over. The laundry area is a total mess although the protective wall (of steel and thick wire) remained intact. Splattered on the white walls up to the ceiling are debris of leaves and soil.

Outside our unit, we were met by the family who lives just next to ours. They, too, were still in shock. We exchanged stories about how we dealt with the tornado. They asked if the protective wall in our laundry area was also destroyed like what happened to theirs. Amazingly, we told them that it seemed ok.

Even in the middle of a disaster aftermath, we still kept our sense of humor. We told them how our breakfast eggs are now covered with twigs. Not to be outdone, they went to their unit and came out again and showed us what happened to their newly-cooked rice—now covered with leaves and twigs, too! Apparently, the winds blew away the cover of the rice cooker! I told them they can re-cook it as fried rice!

We checked the damages outside and were shocked to see the fallen trees in Poinsettia Street (which intersects our street). The old and lovely trees of the convent across our house fell over. A Meralco post fell on the street, too, as if defeated. A piece of a roof that flew from a house now hangs from a cable of an electric post. Looking up outside our veranda, we saw someone’s pair of pants hanging from the top of another electric post! (Photos of the tornado’s aftermath are below this post).

Back in our unit, we also wondered how the third window in our bedroom opened. Most of all we wondered why the glass windows did not break, not even one, when the roofs of our neighbors were blown away. Must be that the glasses are much stronger and safely secured than the roofs or…we were saved by our angels.

Indeed, there are mysteries that we cannot answer. We are still shaken–dealing with the aftermath of our own adrenalin rush—and somewhat tired, almost feverish, but we know we are safe. Thanks to our friends and families who sent concerned text messages, love, and prayers.

We share with you all this part of our journey as we also pray for the safety of other Filipinos who are still dealing with the floods and the aftermath of typhoon Falcon. I also take this chance to ask all of you to do a little deed like planting a tree when you have the chance. Global warming certainly affects atmospheric conditions and aggravates the impact of storms and weather disturbances so even the simple act of planting more trees will definitely mean a lot to many people particularly those who are living in risk- and flood-prone areas.

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Below are photos of the aftermath of the small tornado that hit New Manila, Quezon City. Photos taken through HTC Tattoo phone camera.

Street sign across our house. The convent across our house (their main gate is in Poinsettia St.) lost several of their well-loved trees.

Fallen Trees in Poinsettia Street

Another shot of the fallen trees outside the convent.

These are the trees that fell down near our house.

A Meralco electric post that fell near our house.

This piece of metal that hangs from an electric cable used to be part of the roof of a house near ours.

Pants blown away to an electric post. I wonder whose pair is this…

A tree branch now hangs from a cable near our veranda windows.

Our house was luckily spared although the laundry area was in a complete mess after the tornado. The next-door unit’s protective wall and grills in the laundry area were smashed though.

The picture frames on top of the refrigerator toppled over. We consider it another small miracle that nothing was broken despite the very fierce winds.

There were leaves and twigs everywhere our house after the tornado.

Our breakfast eggs were quite “seasoned” with twigs and soil debris.

Our neighbor showed their rice to us. The cover of the rice cooker was blown away and the debris of twigs, leaves, and soil literally covered the top of their steamed rice.

Media coverage teams went to check the damage and get footages. ABS-CBN reported live from the site, in the evening. This photo was taken from our veranda.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista also came to check the damages. Here, he is being interviewed by the media.

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This is not a paid blog.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

MBA Renewables: A much-awaited online degree program!

Yes, you are reading it correctly! I am happy to find out that a university in Berlin, Germany, is now offering an online graduate program with focus on renewable energy. I have been waiting for this for the longest time now!

MBA Renewables: A much-awaited degree program!

The course is called Master in Business Administration (MBA) Renewables, and is offered by the Institute for Distance Learning of the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin (BUASB) in cooperation with the university’s Department of Business Administration and Social Sciences and the Renewables Academy AG (RENAC). The first run of the program will begin in October 2011. The course is spread over five terms (semesters) or 30 months. What makes this program unique is that it is the first-ever and only distance learning (online) MBA program with focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

This is very ideal for working professionals who have limited flexibility in terms of time and mobility. The Beuth University and RENAC are also known for their cutting-edge approaches in training environmental and energy students and professionals.

Personally, I preferred enrolling again in my alma mater, the University of the Philippines. In fact, I have already been admitted to the UP Open University’s Master in Environmental and Natural Resources Management (MENRM). However, I was recently told–with all due respect, albeit the one year of waiting for a reply–that it takes a long time to develop and then approve a new track (I requested for a customized track on climate change and renewable energy). The UPOU’s MENRM is still a good option for those wanting to concentrate in coastal and upland resources management but MBA Renewables may be a better program for those who are really keen on and passionate about more environmentally-friendly energy sourcing. It may also be another course offering that UPOU may want to consider in the future particularly that the Berlin program–while comprehensive and timely–may be considered quite expensive by students from countries such as the Philippines.

My interest in renewable energy is deeply-rooted because I have grown up vacationing in Aurora (my Mom’s hometown) where many barangays were not yet connected to the electricity grid back when I was still in high school and college. While many barangays there now are electrified, many lands/farms are still far from the main grid. More importantly, I have always believed that the renewable path is the way to go!

We already know that the over-dependence on fossil fuels is the main culprit for greenhouse gases emissions in the atmosphere. For centuries now, economies are greatly-dependent on fossil fuels and related sources. Just in the year 2001, the world depended on oil and coal for roughly 58.4% of its energy requirements while only 13.5% were sourced from renewable energies.

Just in our own backyard, we have experienced a very destructive flood brought by Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) last 2009. More than 1.8 million people were said to be affected. The damage to crops and properties was pegged at more than 5 billion pesos (roughly 107 million US dollars). Obviously, the issue on climate change has to be addressed more seriously. Greater and more destructive floods can happen in the near future.

As such, countries should focus more on climate-related solutions such as carbon management and more use of renewable energy. Environmental and social development professionals should continuously pass on the word and nurture future leaders.  They should also be actively engaged in advocacy and policy work for a more serious shift on energy sourcing.

The Bangui Wind Mills in Ilocos Norte, Philippines. I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for this project! (Photo credits: philippinebeaches.org)

In the Philippines, we have already enacted the Republic Act 9513 or An Act Promoting the Development, Utilization, and Commercialization of Renewable Energy Sources and for Other Purposes–but we need to do more in improving the markets. The role of the market cannot be over-emphasized. Issues such as on trading, financing and investments, transmission and grid connections, market regulatory policies, and pricing should be resolved, and soon.

Education and training programs like MBA Renewables is a step in the right direction.

Kudos and many thanks to those who developed the Program! Special thanks also goes to Ms. Silja Kroesche, Program Coordinator, for her patience in answering my emails! 

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This is not a paid blog.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin