Double whammy


The Philippines was hit by a double whammy a few days ago.

One was the report by the World Bank saying that the Philippines is at increasing risk of massive storms due to climate change and global warming, as South Asia and Southeast Asia are projected to “heat up” in the next few years. The report projected that typhoons will increase in intensity to Category 4 and 5, with the cities of Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, Manila and Yangon among those likely to be most affected, the devastation particularly severe in the coastal areas.

“If the world warms by two degrees Celsius, it will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones. In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could greatly harm the lives and the hopes of individuals and families who have had little hand in raising the Earth’s temperature,” warned the report.

The second piece of bad news didn’t have the same apocalyptic ring, but it was troubling nonetheless in light of the WB report. Nathaniel Servando, the administrator of the weather bureau Pagasa, confirmed in a text message to officer-in-charge Vicente Malano that he has resigned his post after serving the agency for 23 years. Servando, 48, had been on leave from his job for health reasons, but last Thursday he formalized his absence by availing himself of optional retirement. He is said to have accepted a teaching post in Qatar with a salary vastly higher than the gross monthly pay of P68,428 plus P2,000 cost-of-living allowance that he received at Pagasa.

And so it goes on—the continuing flight of the Philippines’ best scientific minds for better opportunities abroad, even as it faces overwhelming developmental problems that require their expertise—from deforestation and the loss of natural resources to flooding, urban sprawl, the lack of public health and the meager state of technological and social safeguards against natural disasters.

Can one fault Servando for leaving? His children are said to be in college; his wife is a teacher by profession but runs a sari-sari store in their house. Unconfirmed reports said Servando was lured to work in the Middle East with a promised salary of P600,000. “If you get an offer for that kind of pay, perhaps you would bite, too,” said Malano. “Even our doctors are taking nursing courses to go abroad. They sacrifice being doctors to become nurses.”

According to the Philippine Weathermen Employees Association (PWEA), more than 20 forecasters and employees in other divisions of Pagasa have left for better-paying jobs overseas in the last 10 years. President Aquino finesses that number by saying that only five have left the agency since year 2000, and only three under his watch. In any case, he said, there is no cause for worry because Pagasa has just hired 37 new meteorologists and more are expected.

The President misses the point. The likes of Servando, with his 23-year experience in the field (he was a weather specialist for 10 years, then chief of the weather forecasting division and later deputy administrator for research and development of Pagasa), are a valuable resource that new graduates and trainees would be hard put to match. Also, mere personnel replenishment will not solve the woes that have long plagued Pagasa, whether the inadequate equipment it has had to make do with, or the perennial bureaucratic difficulties it has had to endure to receive proper attention and funding from the government.

Last August, at the height of Typhoon “Helen,” Pagasa employees startled the public when they conducted a lightning rally to press for the release of unpaid benefits, which, it turned out, had been suspended since March. The move jolted Malacañang and Congress to work to increase the salaries of Pagasa employees, and to embed their benefits in the annual budget instead of being sourced from the savings of the agency and the Department of Science and Technology.

That’s not the end of it. This year, the employees’ benefits were delayed again, revealed PWEA head Mon Agustin. “Our hazard and longevity benefits haven’t been given since January this year.”

It’s the same old story, with the beleaguered workers, many of them highly trained, some even with master’s degrees, still scrounging around for the respect they deserve for work that directly impacts the lives of all Filipinos. The departure of Servando et al. isn’t Pagasa’s loss alone, but also the nation’s.

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  • cogito728sum

    When our immediate neighbour north of the Bashi Channel needed the services of its expatriate scientists, engineers, and other technical professionals to help develop the economy it enjoys now, the only way it can convince them to come home was to match their overseas salaries plus extra perks and privileges. The country has to provide as well the kind of working environment that will make these expatriates permanently stay. Needless to mention where Taiwan is now economically and yes, militarily.

    In our case, hindi lang natin di pinanghihinayangan ang pag alis ng ating mga “brains”, their departure is also treated dismissively by our government. Which is a sad state of affairs indeed because this is one of the causes why we cannot catch up with our neighbours. We are being dismally left behind to bite the dust.

    But it seems fine by us. So long as we have our celebrities, our beauty contestants known the world over, our religions, and yes, our corrupt politicians who siphon the bulk of the country’s treasure while technocrats like Mr. Servando are paid peanuts, life would be just fine. We cannot really complain. Its been our choice, our way of life.

    • kangsongdaeguk

      I really like your two-cents on almost every issue. Very well-detailed, plus with History. Nasa mga late thirties or early forties na po ba kayo?

      • cogito728sum

        Thank you my son, you’re very generous. I could have been your grandfather, you know. Merci!

      • Eustaquio Joven

        So then, why do you seem so hard on Alzheimer? You could just be inches behind him. hehehe

      • cogito728sum

        Aha, now you’re the one not right in perception. Actually, with your last line you revealed that Alzheimer is actually yards much better than you. How’s that for a rebuttal for your being personal? Merci!

      • Eustaquio Joven

        I take that as a compliment. Actually, my comment’s double edged: age and mental condition, grandpa. Nor did I mean to disparage AlzheimersC. It was his user name I wanted to make light with. i expected a knowing smile, instead… Not your fault though… I have yet to adjust my kind of humor to this medium.

      • kangsongdaeguk

        oooh wow.

    • AlzheimersC

      Umalis iyon dahil palpak naman ang mga predictions nila…kulang nga tayo ng trabaho at marami tayong graduates kaya bagay lang iyan sa mga walang malasakit sa bansa at pansarili lang ang inuuna.

      Mahirap pilitin ang umaayaw…

      • cogito728sum

        My friend kindly temper your hatred. Its killing you. Its not that easy to condemn your fellowman unless you have sufficient proof to do so. If you don’t moderate your cursing anyone you happened not to agree with, it could be very expensive for you as you have to go to the washroom and brush your teeth to skim off that bad taste in your mouth. Take good care of yourself and merci!

      • AlzheimersC

        Don’t worry, I like killing stupid ideas…whatever it takes me HERE.

  • neilabarca

    Base sa ating CONSTITUTION, “priority at kailangang paunlarin ang SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY” sa bansa.

    SURIIN n’yo ang FISCAL POLICY at PINAHAHALAGAHAN ng MALAKANYANG, ang DSWD at DOLE OUT policy (CCT), obsessed at priority ni PNOY.
    Katiting ang budget ng DOST kung ikukumpara sa gadambuhalang budget ng DSWD.

    Para makahabol tayo sa mauunlad na ASEAN countries, kailangang tutukan at ipriority ang DOST, dapat I-TRIPLE (P100.0 bilyon) at ipangalawa sa DEP-ED at AGRICULTURE ang budget ng DOST.

    Ilan dekada ng UKAY-UKAY (imported), segunda mano ang teknolohiya, siyensya at makinarya ng PILIPINAS..NALAGPASAN tayo ng VIETNAM at malamang sa next 10 years, CAMBODIA.

  • firmelilia_12LAF

    Climate change due to global warming is not exclusively Asian peoples’ apocalyptic toll but all inhabitants of this planet Earth, as everybody very well knows. Extensive information about the causes global warming is readily available with just a click of the mouse of our computers. If we want the succeeding generations to enjoy this planet as we have enjoyed it, let’s do our share in preserving it.

  • AlzheimersC

    Dapat bago umalis ang mga hinayupak na mga iyan e nag-iwan sila ng mga trainee para may kapalit sila kung ayaw na nila magbigay ng kanilang serbisyo.

    Ganyan ang karamihan sa atin e madadamot sa mga nalalaman nila…mantakin mo aalis na lang ng ating bansa wala man lang knowledge transfer? Sana bumalik ang mga ito pero kung ayaw na nilang bumalik…iwanan nyo naman ng “pamana” ang inyong mga kababayan.

    • Mang Teban

      Leave the man alone. Mr. Servando has good reasons to leave his post. What you are asking is too much.
      We do not know what he has done in Pagasa in terms of passing the knowledge to his underlings. Do you have proof that Mr. Servando did not teach, train, tutor, mentor, coach, and leave “legacy” to the people in the government office where he worked for 23 years?
      If you have nothing to blast the guy for “ingratitude”, then shut up.
      The sitting president was not humble enough to admit that Pagasa has just lost an “asset”. Instead, he belittled the departure of Mr. Servando and reminded the press that he also fired one. But, whatever impression the president has on anyone in government service, he should keep it to himself and speak diplomatically about such sudden departure with praises for the man…this way, the president will even gain the respect of those who are still in Pagasa and are unfairly underpaid.

      • AlzheimersC

        “Do you have proof that Mr. Servando did not teach, train, tutor, mentor, coach, and leave “legacy” to the people in the government office where he worked for 23 years?”

        So he resigned with no damage to the institution, so what’s to argue about? Are you confused?

      • Mang Teban

        There is a tropical depression happening simultaneously with southwest monsoon and haze covering the area near the cortex….blah, blah, blah.
        Nope, I ain’t confused. I have such lucidness as the bright sky on a pleasant day on this one.
        Sure, I have bad weather days and busted lamp temperament…sometimes.

      • AlzheimersC

        Yeah I see the busted lamp. :)

      • cogito728sum

        Mr. Tebs, my friend, you’re such an enigma. If your writing is anything but religion, you’re so lucid and convincing. I can still remember very well your validly acceptable arguments on Sabah. And now, on this issue, we have a meeting of the minds. How I wish we don’t have to have exchanges on religious topics. Therefore, here’s a big SALUTE. Merci!

      • Mang Teban

        Good….gentle people agree.
        Really, God is the most interesting subject…It is just that somebody in the past suggested that to avoid lengthy debates, avoid any topic on religion, politics, and family.

        Okay, I won’t bother you on religious topics if that is your wish. Just don’t be naughty or I would not be nice…haha…hehe sounds so devious, is it not?

      • cogito728sum

        On second thought, what if I told you that we can actually engage in religious discussions but of course sans those unacceptable adjectives. I’m so certain that my good friend, mad, Edgar Lores, and the rest of the disciplined boys can participate. Lets show these one-line diatribers that we can agree to disagree without insults. That we can exchange meaningful ideas without fear of deviating from civility. But you’ve got to promise that you’d commit yourself to such rule. Would you? Promise ha?
        “Sounds devious?” Nah, not at all. Merci!

      • Eustaquio Joven

        Nice try. I pray for your success.

      • cogito728sum


      • Mang Teban


    • Romulus Fenandez

      hirap talaga ng may alzheimers hindi naiintindihan ang problema ano?

      • AlzheimersC

        Kinakapos ka na ano kaya iyan lang ang kaya mong sabihin?

  • Jose Guevarra

    do you realize how much it takes to gain the expertise of the likes of servando? akala niyo ba basta naka-graduate na ng BS meteorology ay pwede nang isabak sa pag-forecast ng weather?

    alam niyo ba kung anong klaseng support ang binibigay ng gobyerno natin since time immemorial sa mga taong gustong magpaka-dalubhasa sa sciences? speaking as a scientist in training myself, i can attest to the fact na una, kulang na kulang na ang financial support na binibigay ng gobyerno sa mga nag-aaral in the sciences. ni hindi kayang buhayin ang sarili much less magtaguyod ng pamilya. mabuti pang maghanap ng scholarships abroad gaya ng ginagawa ng karamihan. pangalawa, gustuhin man namin bumalik at magmalasakit, kulang din ang pera na pambili ng technology at supplies para makagawa ng maayos na research studies upang mas lalong mapagbuti ang trabaho.

    dito sa amerika, ang research budget ng isang professor sa sciences ay karaniwang umaabot o lumalampas pa sa US$ 250K every year. sa pinas, maswerte na ang science professor na makahawak ng PhP 250K na reearch budget.

    you get what you pay for. barya-baryang pera na bunga ng sobrang baba ng priority na binibigay sa science and technology sa bansa, barya-baryang sebisyo lang din syempre ang makukuha ng bansa.

    madami talagang matatalino sana sa atin sa sciences, pero kung di puputulin ang ganitong pag-iisip sa gobyerno, nganga na lang tayo tuwing may bagyo sa Pinas.

    • cogito728sum

      Good one Joe! Unfortunately, your wish will remain nothing but a wish. Our forte is politics not sciences. So you made the right decision. Merci!

    • AlzheimersC

      Ows? bakit andaming reklamo na mali naman ang mga predictions ng mga taga PAGASA?

      Syempre may kinalaman diyan si Servando kasi iyan ang trabaho niya.

      Lahat na lang ng issue sinasakyan nyo matira nyo lang si Pnoy kahit wala naman sa hulog.

      Imposible naman na walang TRAINEE ang mga taga PAGASA para pamalit sa mga dapat ng magretire…mantakin mo for 23 years lang naman nagserbisyo si Servando?

      • Jose Guevarra

        kung di ka ba naman engot talaga. weather prediction is NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE. kahit dito sa amerika nagkakamali din ang mga mahuhusay na meteorologists. kaya lang hindi nahahalata ay dahil sa kadalasan nache-check nila ang trabaho ng bawat isa dahil higit na mas madami ang meteorologists dito; nagkalat sa iba’t ibang panig ng bansa.

        kulang na kulang ang mga weather experts sa Pinas; kaya kadalasan wala silang sapat na kakayanan na i-check ang trabaho ng bawat isa.

        hilig mong humirit, wala ka naman nalalaman talaga sa mga pinag-sasabi mo. GUNGGONG KA TALAGA!

    • AlzheimersC

      “speaking as a scientist in training myself, i can attest to the fact na una, kulang na kulang na ang financial support na binibigay ng gobyerno sa mga nag-aaral in the sciences.”

      Ang sabihin mo wala ka namang idea na pwedeng tustusan ng gobyerno…puro ka lang aral…kamote…: X

      • Jose Guevarra

        alam mo ba kung bakit mayayaman ang mga kapitbahay ng Pinas gaya ng Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan? dahil nakikipag-kompetensya ang mga gobyerno doon sa pagpapasweldo sa mga empleyado hindi lamang sa private employers doon kundi maging sa ibang mga bansa. bunga nito, nagdadalawang-isip ang mga tao sa mga bansang iyan na iwanan ang kanilang mga pamilya at pinipiling ibuhos ang mga galing nila sa mga sarili nilang bayan.

        dito sa amerika, bago ka magkaroon ng trabahong malaki talaga ang sweldo bilang engineer o scientist, kailangan na pagkatapos ng Grade 12 at 4 na taon sa college ay may master’s degree ka, kadalasan phd pa.

        ngayon mo sabihin na kamote ako at puro lang ako aral. GUNGGONG!!! magsawa ka sa pagtatanim at pagkain ng talbos.

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