After Severe Tropical Storm “Paeng” (Nalgae) brought strong winds, heavy rains, and flash floods in most areas in the country, students resurface calls for a genuine academic ease.
Similar to other Southern Tagalog areas, students residing in dormitories in and around the UPLB campus lost cellular signal, electricity connection, and water supply amid the storm.
“Nawalan ng kuryente at tubig. Napakahirap kasi hindi mo alam kung uuwi ka or mag-stay ka. Kung mag-stay ka, saan ka kukuha ng sources ng electricity or water? Kung uuwi ka naman, ang concern mo [ay] kung safe ba,” Electrical Engineering student Jason said in an exclusive interview with the Perspective.
(We lost electricity and water. It is very difficult because you have no idea whether to go home or stay in the campus. If you stay, where can you have access to electricity or water? If you decide to go home, your concern is your safety.)
It was around nighttime of October 30 that campus dormitories were opened to off-campus UPLB students for WiFi and charging purposes. Men’s Dorm was also opened for students who need access to water and electricity.
The Student Union (SU) Building was also opened to serve as a charging station. Since October 30, the SU Building accepts in-kind donations for individuals affected by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.
Students expressed that the calamity severely affected their academics, given that their primary concern is their safety. Jason said that he has several deadlines set in the upcoming week, but added that he is still clueless whether these will push through or will be moved.
Considering the storm’s effects, the UPLB University Student Council (USC) followed up on its request to the UPLB administration to postpone examinations and deadlines in the coming week.
In an exclusive interview with the Perspective, USC Chairperson Gean Celestial emphasized that the storm struck at the time of the reading break, during which most students were in their home provinces.
“Kaakibat nito ay ang panawagan natin na tanggalin ang required attendance sa paparating na linggo. Maraming estudyante rin ang nagpahayag na nawalan sila ng kuryente at mahina rin ang kanilang data, kaya minabuti nating makabilang din sa mga request ang pag-suspend ng deadlines,” Celestial said.
(One of its implications is our call to remove required attendance in the coming week. Most students expressed that they lost electricity and that mobile data also have weak signal, which is why we also requested to suspend deadlines.)
Celestial added that students must not “risk their own safety just to comply with deadlines”, adding that the USC requests that no requirements and examinations will be scheduled in the coming week.
The USC had already received a recommending approval from Vice Chancellor Janette Silva. Celestial added that it was also clarified that the administration plans on moving deadlines, and that this must be coordinated with college deans.
However, as of press time, no official announcement has been released by the UPLB administration.
On October 30, a day after the storm crossed Southern Tagalog, a Facebook post by Rise For Education – UPLB showed students flocking to the SU Building to “to resume working on their academic requirements”.
“The Rise For Education – UPLB continues to call for genuine academic ease and to continue to uphold compassion on these trying times,” Rise For Education – UPLB wrote.
Southern Tagalog amid the storm
Strong winds, torrential rains, and flash floods were brought by Paeng to Southern Tagalog as it crossed the region on October 29.
After moving over Visayas, Paeng crossed the coastal waters of Quezon early morning of October 29, before moving over the northern portion of Marinduque. The storm then made its landfall in San Juan, Batangas at around 2 PM, moved over San Pablo City, Laguna, then traversed the northern portion of Cavite at around 8 PM. Paeng then passed over Laguna Lake and the Metro Manila-Rizal-Bulacan area at around 11 PM.
For most of October 29, Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal (TCWS) No. 3 was raised in most Southern Tagalog areas such as CALABARZON. Potential impacts of winds at such signals pose “moderate to significant threat to life and property”. Paeng’s intensity had a “maximum sustained winds of 95 km/h near the center [and] gustiness of up to 160 km/h”, making it a severe tropical storm.
It was on October 30, at around 2 AM, that Paeng finally exited the landmass of Luzon.
Due to the heavy damages brought by the storm, state of calamity was declared in San Pablo City, Laguna on October 29 due to damaged houses and crops, which were the result of landslides and heavy rainfall.
Meanwhile, in Bay, Laguna, a video sent to the Perspective shows a highway flooded in Bay, Laguna, afternoon of October 30.
In Quezon, initial reports as of 12 NN of October 31 revealed that about 107,000 individuals were affected. Bantilan Bridge, which connects San Juan, Batangas and Sariaya, Quezon, collapsed at 6 PM of October 29.
Police reports as of 2 PM of October 31 show that seven casualties were recorded in Quezon, while two fatalities were recorded in Laguna. 98 fatalities were reported for the whole country as of October 31.
As Paeng hit several provinces in the country, #NasaanAngPangulo trends once again on Twitter. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s remark that the government “could have done better” drew flak from netizens, slamming the president’s supposed “deflection of blame”.
“Sa panahon na hinahagupit tayo ng ganitong mga sakuna, ng tuloy-tuloy na pandemya, at iba’t-iba pang ekonomikong krisis, mapapatanong ka na lang talaga, #NasaanAngPangulo?” YAPJUST said in a Facebook video.
(At a time that we are hit by various calamities, by the pandemic, and by other economic crises, you will really start asking, #NasaanAngPangulo?)
In light of the storm’s effects, relief efforts such as food distribution were conducted in the SU Building. Serve the People Brigade – UPLB and Southern Tagalog Serve The People Corps also co-headed feeding programs in several parts of Brgy. Batong Malake.
Serve The People Brigade (STPB) – UPLB is calling for donations for communities affected by the storm.
Monetary donations may be sent through the following accounts:
Gywenneth M. Cariaga
Danielle Alyza Uy
SA 8279 2573 33
In-kind donations can be coordinated with STPB-UPLB through their Facebook page at this link. [P]
Additional reports by Mark Fabreag, Pierre Hubo, and Charleston Jr. Chang