Teleseryes to be tapped for disaster info drive

By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 14 2014 08:32 AM | Updated as of Jun 14 2014 04:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Television viewers have seen Angel Locsin and Maja Salvador quarrel over an unfaithful husband but in the future, they might find them talking about flash floods and storm surges.

The government is planning to use dramas or teleseryes to educate the public about disasters.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Alexander Pama said popular television programs could be used to reach out to the masses who have no formal education on disaster preparedness.

“Our target is to reach the majority of the population and we all know that the majority of the population watches these popular programs,” Pama said.

“Maybe there’s nothing wrong if the networks include in their programs some information about the ideas we want to convey to our people in times of disasters,” he added.

Pama said these ideas include the effects of disasters like tsunamis and storm surges and what people living in risky areas should do when a calamity strikes.

“Maybe we can take advantage of the popular programs that have a wide reach and a wide audience,” he said.

Pama said he is ready to talk to television networks to implement the plan, which he believes would raise public awareness about safety.

“I am willing to formalize it. If it’s going to take that for us to be able to achieve that purpose of educating and informing our people, let’s do it,” he said.

Earlier, government scientist Mahar Lagmay floated the idea of tapping celebrities as “disaster ambassadors” to entice the public to embrace “a culture of safety and preparedness.”

Lagmay, who serves as executive director of the science department’s Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), said celebrities could use their influence to spread life-saving information.

“A disaster ambassador should be influential. He should be able to get the message across to many people, one who is followed by many. He should be able to get the message internalized and put into action,” Lagmay said in a recent interview.

Lagmay said celebrities have many followers in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, making them effective conveyors of important warnings.

“No matter what we do, no matter what technology we use, if the people don’t listen or don’t care, everything will just be put to waste,” Lagmay said.

“We need to entice the people, encourage the people to listen to us,” he added.