When the unexpected happens: Calamity in Botolan, Philippines

Philippines Typhoon
I should have been in Botolan this week, assisting that Municipality on an e-Governance project. Instead I’m in Manila. Just the day before I was to arrive in Botolan (I was staying in a neighbour municipality, Subic), calamity struck in the form of a flood brought on by Typhoon Kiko. So here I am posting about a calamity; when I was expecting to write about something a bit more uplifting!

What happened in Botolan?

Botolan is a Filipino coastal community, in the runoff of (infamous) Mt. Pinatubo. The unexpected; i.e., a dike (holding back a river that originates on Pinatubo) broke on August 7. As a result, 2,000 are now homeless. Typhoons are common here. The dike breaking was unexpected (shades of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, as the above photo shows). Combined with landslides and road washouts, Botolan was declared a state of calamity, as further pictured in these iReport photos.
With Botolan in disarray, disaster relief kicks in. Government agencies as well as NGOs (e.g., Philippines Red Cross) provide support. The President pays a visit. And personal stories (whether of tragedy, good fortune, heroism, or otherwise) give us a better, emotional way to connect with the people affected.

My connection to Botolan

Reading my previous couple of posts, you’ll know that I’m here, in the Philippines, as a Volunteer Advisor, to the eGov4MD project, with the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO). The eGov4MD project is an international collaborative, orchestrated by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), bringing together various Filipino organizations, municipalities, and foreign nonprofits (e.g., CESO). The project helps Filipino municipalities, including Botolan, develop and leverage their Information Technology (IT) staff and capacities.

I don’t personally know the people of Botolan, at least not directly. Yet, I feel a connection. I’ve seen the faces of the people I was to be working with. I was one day removed from what I would expect to be interesting conversations and shared experiences. Now, all that will likely never happen the people of Botolan have far more important things to deal with.

I’ve inquired as to how the people I was to be working with are coping. I’ve yet to hear back. I can’t really relate with their situation though. I’ve never been in a flood situation (or similar disaster). My condolences go out to all those affected by the typhoon and flood. I’m hoping before I leave in September, that I will hear some encouraging news coming from Botolan.
How does one best respond in these types of situations? What’s your experience / advice?

Photo credit: Marcanarjos


  1. Thanks for the thoughtful story, Ben. I hope the typhoon doesn’t wreck too many lives.

  2. Hi Alex. Nice of you to check in. And, yes… let’s hope the people of Botolan find ways to make the best of a most difficult situation.

  3. Philippine Photos says

    Pinoy Pride!!!!

  4. Pinoy Pride says

    I definitely love reading your insight and learning from your blogsite. Thank you for the interesting and informative article. – Pinoy Pride


  1. […] On Saturday, September 26, almost 14 inches of rain fell in a 6 hour period! The infrastructure of Manila and surrounding provinces was overwhelmed, resulting in enormous flooding, extensive loss of life, and massive property destruction (whole communities wiped out). When over 80% of a city of 12+ million people is underwater, the situation goes beyond being a calamity.  This is the second Philippines calamity I’ve blogged about in just over 1 month.  The first is here. […]

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