Social Climate

How bad was ‘Ondoy’?

/ 10:10 PM August 10, 2012

In its last quarterly survey of 2009, done on Dec. 5-10, SWS asked household heads if the family was victimized (nasalanta) by recent typhoons and storms—namely “Ondoy” (9/25/09), “Pepeng” (10/1/09), “Quedan” (10/5/09), “Ramil” (10/20/09), “Santi” (10/28/09), “Tino” (11/2/09), and “Urduja” (11/24/09)—and if they were ready to cope with another.

The survey found that 38 percent had suffered from those typhoons and storms. This amounted to some 6.9 million out of the national base of 18.4 million families at that time.  The victims were proportionally much more in the National Capital Region (57 percent) and the rest of Luzon (53 percent), than in the Visayas (17 percent) and Mindanao (15 percent).


Ondoy was the worst. The storm that hurt the biggest number of people was Ondoy, victimizing 27 percent of families nationwide (some 4.9 million families).  These were 56 percent of families in the NCR (1.4 million), and 34 percent in the rest of Luzon (2.8 million), versus only 14 percent in the Visayas (0.5 million), and 6 percent in Mindanao (0.25 million).

The next most damaging was Pepeng, only a week later, victimizing 15 percent nationwide (or 2.8 million families). It struck 31 percent of families in Balance Luzon, versus only 4.7 percent in NCR, 4.5 percent in the Visayas, and 1.6 percent in Mindanao.


The other typhoons victimized much lower national percentages of families: Urduja 2.0, Santi 1.7, Ramil 0.6, Tino 0.3, and Quedan 0.2.

Being prepared for a new storm. The survey asked if the family was prepared to cope with a new storm, allowing for multiple answers from a show-list of six forms of readiness.

The majorities of household heads said they had set aside candles, flashlights and batteries (57 percent), as well as food and drinking water (54 percent). Other forms of readiness were less common: having a radio to follow news (25 percent), having a safer place for relocation (18 percent), having repaired the house (16 percent), and having the means (gamit) to cope with flooding (9 percent).

Four of the six forms of readiness were more common among the families that had been victimized by the recent storms. Readiness with candles, flashlights and batteries was 61 percent among storm victims, compared to 55 percent among nonvictims.  Food and drinking water were stocked by 61 percent of victims, versus 50 percent of nonvictims. House repairs had been done by 21 percent of victims, versus 13 percent of nonvictims.  Materials to cope with floods were available to 14 percent of victims, versus only 6 percent of nonvictims.

On the other hand, access to safer relocation was available to the same proportion of victims and nonvictims, i.e. 18 percent.  Slightly more nonvictims (28 percent) than victims (24 percent) had a radio for following the latest weather news.  Actually, people depend much more on television than on radio, so this indicates no special appreciation, among victims compared to nonvictims, of the value of a battery-powered radio in case of loss of electricity.

Poverty and hunger were more common among storm victims. In December 2009, the national proportion of families rating themselves as  mahirap  or poor was 46 percent, amounting to 8.5 million families.  Self-rated poverty was 50 percent among victims (3.5 million), compared to 44 percent among nonvictims (5.0 million).

It was 48 percent among Ondoy victims (2.4 million poor) and 54 percent among Pepeng victims (1.5 million poor).  These add up to more than the number of poor storm victims because many in Balance Luzon were badly hit by both Ondoy and Pepeng.


At that time, 23.4 percent of families nationwide experienced involuntary hunger in the three months prior to the survey; this amounted to 4.3 million families.  Among storm victims, hunger was 28.2 percent (or 2.0 million), whereas among nonvictims it was only 20.4 percent (or 2.3 million).

Hunger was 31.2 percent among Ondoy victims (1.5 million hungry), and 26.0 percent among Pepeng victims (0.7 million hungry), both above the national average.

The victims of the other typhoons, though comparatively few in number, had exceptionally high rates of poverty and hunger when surveyed in December 2009. Ramil victims were 87 percent poor and 50 percent hungry; Santi victims were 73 percent poor and 70 percent hungry; Urduja victims were 66 percent poor and 59 percent hungry; Tino victims were 66 percent poor and 56 percent hungry; Quedan victims were 60 percent poor and 55 percent hungry.

Optimists and pessimists. Every quarterly Social Weather Survey asks adults nationwide if they feel their personal quality of life (uri ng pamumuhay) will improve, worsen, or be unchanged in the next 12 months.  This item discovers the optimists, the pessimists, and those who feel neutral about the future.

In December 2009, 33 percent of adults were optimists, and 12 percent were pessimists, for a net optimism score of +21. Among adults from typhoon victim-families, on the other hand, 33 percent were optimists and 10 percent were pessimists, for an above-average net optimism score of +23.  (I wish print journalists would stop translating “+” into “plus,” as though their readers don’t know arithmetic.)

Among those victimized by Ondoy in particular, 36 percent were optimists and only 8 percent were pessimists, for an even better net optimism score of +28.

Conclusion: We Filipinos don’t let bad weather get us down.

* * *

Contact SWS: or [email protected] I thank Aileen “Lhen” Montibon of SWS for doing new tabulations used here.

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TAGS: Mahar Mangahas, tropical storm ondoy, typhoons
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