The Internet continues to play a critical role in information dissemination here in the Philippines as massive flooding hit the country. The floods came as a surprise since it wasn’t brought in by a powerhouse named typhoon like “Ondoy” or “Sendong”. Fortunately government agencies were better prepared and were able to send out warnings as early as last night. PAG-ASA and DOST’s Project NOAH has definitely shown that it is an effective tool.
Photo via Chris Velasco from Facebook
As soon as the floods spread people started taking photos and uploading it on Facebook and Twitter. Their network started sharing and the network of their network shared as well until the photos became viral. The photos showed how bad the situation was. One of the most shared pictures is the one above. Those white spheres are actually the top part of street lights.Alongside the bad news though came the good news. Government agencies, NGOs, and private individuals started sharing photos of rescue operations, emergency numbers, and general “how-to-help” posts. One particular positive photo that became viral was the picture of the Philippine Red Cross Amphibian Rescue Vehicle which was uploaded on the Facebook Page of former Senator Dick Gordon. The most viral of the lot though was a simple e-poster uploaded by the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office which showed all the phone numbers/emergency hotlines.
MMDA also played a critical role informing everyone of the floods via their Twitter account. Not only did they regularly post updates on what roads were impassable, they also actively engaged and replied to users who were asking them for advice. From what I heard though they’re almost maxed out when it comes to Twitter posts for the day. This is something that Twitter should look into (removing limits for special government accounts). Here are some of the tweets of MMDA:
Local media also played a critical role, using their social networking accounts and websites to get the word out on what’s happening. What’s interesting though is that the deluge of content isn’t coming from them, but from the people. This is probably the best way to explain what and how important user generated content, or UGC, is.
Last, but definitely not the least, the spirituality of Filipinos were also reflected on Twitter. The top trending topics in the Philippines was #PrayForThePhilippines. As of this writing it hasn’t entered the Worldwide Trending List yet but it probably will in the next few hours, especially if foreign media picks up the news. Marikina River was also in the list because it hit critical levels and started overflowing. “Stay Safe” and “Emergency Hotlines” also entered the trending list, the latter probably related to the government e-poster that we discussed earlier.
So what now? To those who can read this it means you’re probably at home. Check your closets and look for stuff you can donate, go to the nearest mini-stop or grocery and buy canned goods, and then put them in boxes and send them over to relief centers.
A Facebook “Like” is good and all but without action that’s just well wishing. Let’s do our part and help.