By: Mark Dondi M. Arboleda
Honolulu, Hawaii- For one month and a week, I was given the opportunity train with the (best) crisis managers in the Asia Pacific. It was the 16th offering of the seminar for Comprehensive Crisis Management at the Daniel K. Inounye Pacific Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, from February 9 to March 18, 2016. It was also the seminar where the Daniel K. Inouye Asian- Pacific Center for Security Studies Training for Comprehensive Crisis Management (DKI-APCSS) had their 10,000th trainee attending. The seminar focused on what to do strategically in the light of increasing natural disaster occurring in the region. In fact, one of the case studies discussed was the debacle after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). As you know, the Philippine government was unprepared to handle the magnitude of the calamity and could not effectively coordinate relief efforts. Here, I learned that all sectors in the society and the international community need to coordinate effectively to help those affected by natural calamities.
There were comprehensive lectures in the morning followed by workshops/ break-out sessions in the afternoon. The entire training was capped by an exercise where a simulated crisis (influenza outbreak) was complicated by confounding issues (a complex problem) such limited budgets, tribal conflicts, inter-departmental quarrels, and the reluctance to ask for international help.
All the lectures and activities will certainly be applicable for developing the degree programs I was set to do: a Graduate Degree Program for Climate Change, Disaster and Comprehensive Crisis Management. The honorable Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr even called me to his office so that UPLB can develop training modules.
I had wished I could have attended all the lectures. Some lectures were electives and we where only allowed to attend two electives out of a possible 11. These entire elective courses could have been good material for including into the Graduate Program. The two elective I had attended where related to Public health and disease outbreaks and another elective was on Climate Change. Electives I missed where: Applications of Technology in Crisis Management and Communications in Times of Crisis, for example.
I had also wished there where more workshop activities and more time to have more simulated activities. But it seemed time was running short and before I realized it, it was time to say goodbye and head home.
During this time, I realized that the Philippines is not the “only” country in the region. It is not the only country affected severely by crisis. It is not the only country with problems – and solutions. There were 125 participants from 44 countries, big andsmall, rich and poor, advanced and developing.
The Philippine contingent was comprised of the chief planning officer for the National Disaster and Risk Management Center, the director for clearing operations, Metro Manila Development Authority; a PNP colonel for anti–kidnapping, the district commander for Aparri region from the Coast Guard, the consul special concerns from the Department of Foreign Affairs and your truly.
This was our welcoming party group photo. I’m somewhere in the middle, fourth row.
We were an odd group and we were separated into different seminar groups. When we got together for beer and chicken wings on weekends, we would discuss the Philippine situation and how we’d need to get together to help in getting our natural disasters (and other crisis) into more manageable form. The Philippines has a law and implementing rules and regulations. But not many know this or are educated in it. We as Filipinos had the opportunity to see the problem(s) in a different perspective and tackle it.
The objective of the workshop was to be able to network internally and internationally- and to learn from each other…I did.
We need more opportunities and training in order to address our local issues. Hopefully we can rise again and lead the region. I encourage practitioners and professionals in climate change and crisis management to apply to APCSS CCM.