University of the Philippines Los Baños
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 11:57

Geologist, sociologist headline UPLB’s arts and sciences conference

One is a geologist, the other is a sociologist – but their research proves that the natural, physical, and social sciences all impinge on climate change adaptation and disaster resilience.

Dr. Alfredo Mahar Francisco Lagmay, executive director of the UP Resilience Institute and a professor at the UP Diliman National Institute of Geological Sciences, and Dr. Gloria Luz Nelson, professorial lecturer from the UPLB Department of Social Sciences, shared their knowledge to participants of the 10th UPLB College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Student-Faculty Research Conference during its opening program on Nov. 20 at the CAS Auditorium.

Dr. Lagmay, in his keynote speech, said that bridging climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) incorporates future projections and impacts of climate change to present problems. He emphasized the need to use probabilistic maps, or maps that show several scenarios of events such as floods, landslides, and storm surges, from their smallest to biggest scopes through time, to save lives.

“You need to capture bigger events of the future,” Dr. Lagmay said. He cited the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, saying that most hazards and disasters in the future have not happened yet.

“This is the way forward and the scientific way. We need to reflect on all of these hazards of the future into maps so that we can plan in a resilient way,” Dr. Lagmay said. “No amount of accurate warning will work if hazard maps are inappropriate,” he added.

On the other hand, Dr. Nelson, in her plenary speech, shared to the audience the results of her studies on resettlement communities that were displaced by major disasters from 1991 to 2013: the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in Central Luzon and the typhoons Winnie, Reming, and Yolanda in Quezon, Albay, and Leyte, respectively.

“Disaster is a community issue, and rehabilitation should therefore involve the community,” Dr. Nelson said. She cited bayanihan as a Filipino tradition that emerges during community resettlement. “No task is insurmountable with unity and perseverance. No burden is tedious in enthusiastic cooperation. Certainly, no disaster can hinder our aspiration to rise again,” she said, as she elaborated bayanihan’s essence.

She cited the roles of family, support structure, livelihood programs, and accessibility of the resettlement area, among others, in overcoming the psycho-social effects of disasters. She also noted the aspiration of some of the displaced households to eventually go back to their communities of origin for some reasons.

During the open forum, the speakers and the audience discussed the potentials of probabilistic maps in resettlement planning and socio-economic development of hazard-safe places.

Present during the opening program were Dr. Nina Cadiz, director of the Office of Student Affairs, who delivered the message of Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr.; Dr. Felino Lansigan, dean of CAS, who gave the opening remarks; Genaro Cuaresma, assistant to the vice chancellor for administration; and Maria Carmela Garcia, chair of the CAS Research Committee.

The Conference, with the theme “Harnessing arts and sciences for resilience and sustainability,” attracted about 200 participants and featured almost 100 papers and poster presentations on environment and agriculture, health and education, society, economics and governance, and data science and modelling. It was held to mark the 45th anniversary of CAS. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)