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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

RED ZONE Training Group Launched

Soft Skills For A Tough World!

The RED ZONE Counter-Conflict Solutions Group is composed of specialists aiming to give the Philippine public a spectrum of learning and training programs centering on Information, Readiness and Wellness. The format of their seminars provide an alternative to corporate team-building sessions and short term courses for both institutions and corporations.    

In light of the recent tragic events in the world today, their efforts currently center on propagating their Disaster Management: Are You READY? seminar. It aims to develop the awareness and development of a  familiy-based emergency action plan for heads of families.  

For further info about their services, contact them at:

Radiation and Potassium Iodide Facts

So our local nuclear scientists' have finally detected some trace amounts of radiation that finally got mixed within our atmosphere from Japan. To me it was only a matter of time. I was always a skeptic about their continued reassurances that the "fallout" wouldn't reach our shores. They did downplay the radiation levels as negligible though, with no significant effect impacting our health.

We do have the factor of time and more so, distance from Japan working in our favor. The radiation levels dissipate significantly the farther one is from the radiation source, hence the lesser the dose of contamination. Let's face it too: if a fallout did happen here, (i.e. - the Bataan nuclear power plant), unless you have an underground bunker 20 feet below the ground encased by a foot of concrete and further shielded with 1 inch lead all around, not to mention having your own independent underground water source, air filtration system and fully stocked with food, water and supplies for at at least a month, there's really nothing we can do about this specific nuclear incident scenario.  

Now let's talk about potassium iodide (KI) and why it is prescribed in case of exposure to radioactive fallout. Basically, imagine the thyroid gland (located in front of our necks, below the larynx) as having a grand fancy for collecting radioactive iodine, the element that is dispersed during a nuclear reactor meltdown. The important points we ought to know in the event we are advised to take it are:

  1. It is taken to “block” radioactive iodine from being amassed by the thyroid gland. 
  2. It can NOT protect other organs and tissues of the body.   
  3. Effective for approximately 24 hours. 
  4. Works best within 3 – 4 hours of exposure. 
  5. Infants, children, pregnant and nursing mothers are of the highest risk and thus need priority in its intake. 
  6. There are set, specific dosages for intake and length of treatment as prescribed by authorities, so please don't self-medicate!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Black Hawk Down

I first watched this movie a decade ago and I distinctly remember the profound effect it had on me. 

So many fascinating elements behind it; the background behind the unrest  and conflict in Mogadishu, the  tense but moving field trauma scene where the medic was trying to save his team mate (trying to mend the femoral artery). It also highlighted the heroism of the snipers Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon and how their selfless actions were awarded by being bestowed the US Medal of Honor posthumously.  

When everything is said and done, there is only  one  reason as to why a dedicated soldier fights. I'll let "Hoot", probably the movie's most recognizable character,  tell it in the plainest way possible - 

Lastly, the glorious theme also at the end is from the old, traditional Irish folk tune called "The Minstrel Boy". The melancholy of the bagpipes is something I've always liked as well. It really is fitting to be put in this film. 


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Religion: An Endangered Institution?

Just read about this study and the comparison it inevitably draws between rich and poor countries.

If you pause to consider it though, it does make sense. Reminds me of a passage in Neil Gaiman's "American Gods"  when he referred to America as a "bad place for Gods" (and if you've been hanging out and reading this humble blog of mine, you'll probably know how I can't wait for "God" to be irrelevant and unnecessary).  

Your beliefs are your own though. Just don't be a fanatic, please!  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Before "IT" Happens. . .

(UPDATED from a few days ago)

Chile, Haiti, Pakistan, New Zealand, and now Japan.

This seems to be disaster season and the "domino effect" is becoming a familiar and tragic scenario: an earthquake happens, structural damage and widespread destruction immediately follows. Those living in the coast lands have another worry---tsunami and tidal forces---causing even more destruction, disruption of services and communication, lack of basic goods and supplies. The disaster is compounded by possible trauma, injuries, hysteria and no immediate authority being in charge.

Folks, for us still "lucky" enough to not yet be affected by cataclysms like these, now is the time to remember to:

1. Review or revise our respective family emergency plans.
2. Depending on the circumstances, consider the possibility of evacuating your home/location. Know your entry and exit points and the alternative escape route/s to take when going to more secure and safer locations.   
3. Be prepared with our well-stocked emergency kits, supplies and equipment.
4. Not be solely reliant on authorities to aid us during these times but in ourselves.
5. Be ready to ride out the disaster for sometime (at the very least, 72 hours).

Let's all hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan: Lessons On A Resilient Spirit

Japanese kanji for "resilience"

I came across this news article. It's been said that we Filipinos are resilient folks. With all the poverty, corruption and inquality, tragedies and incidences that have become so much a part of our lives, many outsiders often wonder at how we all shrug these off with a bit of laughter, a steady stride and coupled with the smallest bit of hope of "may bukas pa" (there's still tomorrow). Often though, we take this light-hearted approach far too much, to the point of indifference, levity and lack of foresight.

With this recent disaster Japan is currently experiencing, the world is seeing a different kind of resilience, a more "stoic" kind of endurance to meet all these difficulties and pick-up the pieces slowly but surely. There is no hint of anarchy, self-serving acts or riots amid the chaos. It is a resilience with a strong sense of humanity and nobility.    

If there is one thing the Japanese know what to do, it is to band together to endeavor for a far greater good. Known for their discipline and hard work, countless generations of Japanese have been brought up with the ideals of bushido ("Way of the Warrior" or the code of chivlary by its military class) which has permeated into the culture of the common man and his psyche. They learned to endure life's difficulties. We should also remember that at the end of WWII, their defeat and the atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki virtually wiped-out the Japanese economy and way of living. Yet, they proved their resilience again by slowly and surely rebuilding their nation into the economic powerhouse we all recognize today. To go on bravely together with unblinking eyes, one breath at a time, one step at a time.

Ang tibay natin sana katulad din nung mga Japon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Libya: Lessons Learned On Hasty Exit Strategies

Photo taken from

We've all been hearing what's happening now in parts of the Middle East and North Africa and the unrest that started in Egypt has caused a domino effect among its neighboring countries under similar oppressive regimes.

I really don't want to delve into lengthy academic and political discussions as to the why's and wherefore's of the spreading instability as I'm more concerned about the state of our kabayan's over there who are working as OFW's (overseas Filipino workers)

The unfolding events has brought to light several problems, not all of which are new. The perennial lack of foresight, planning and preparation of the government and its concerned agencies for such contingencies is once again highlighted. As always, we are on constant reactionary mode instead of being proactive. We have only to see how agencies like the DFA and OWWA are all scrambling to get people out now because of their wait-and-see-what-happens line of thinking allowing the crisis to escalate, unlike other countries that have been evacuated and repatriated their own citizens days, even weeks ago!

Obviously, the safety and security of the workers in the first consideration. Over and over again, reports of how mobs and criminal elements taking advantage of the situation continues. If you're a foreigner trapped in this land, you are especially vulnerable! 

The logistics to consider in the exit plans obviously must take into account the distance and coordination with and among the workers who are spread out throughout the country. True, most of them are situated in the country's capital, Tripoli and other major cities, but there are also those who work in more remote areas. Allied with this issue of travel and transport to pick-up points or the means to getting to the designated locations where repatriation will finally be possible.

Some measures to consider for those is such a situation:

1. Communicate, coordinate and consolidate.

- Depending on how large your group is, organize yourselves as much as possible into one single party. If dividing into smaller groups is needed, each group must designate its own team leader to coordinate with other groups and to lead that specific group. Stay in close proximity with each other as there is always safety in numbers. 
- Always monitor and maintain close communication with the embassy and authorities for announcements or advisories.
- Also, it is important to verify or substantiate any news of possible pick-up or rescue. With chaos and uncertainty enveloping everything, hearsay, rumors, false hopes or miscommunication may make things significantly more difficult to effect transition to safer locations. 
- Stock-up on food, water and supplies and resources and ration them. Be prepared for a long siege.
- Make use of online resources for further info (i.e. - make use of Google Maps to keep track of the spread of the unrest or plan your departure/escape route and Google Crisis Response with a "Person Finder" feature) 
- Make a list of your group's members and their important details.
- While securing your personal documents (i.e.- passports, cards, employment records, bank statements) is a given, make copies or notes of vital information and numbers in the event that these maybe lost or taken away from you. Even basic pen-and-paper is better than nothing.

2. Secure and fortify your "safe haven" location.

- Be on the lookout and take turns maintaining a 24-hour watch.
- Secure doorways, widows and any other access points
- Set-up barriers and obstructions (i.e. - furniture, machines, gear at hand) from or outside the doorway entrance or main access. This will at the very least deter some less determined intruders or afford your group sometime to escape if needed.    
- Make a "dummy cache". Most of the reports that are coming in mention mostly only looters or robbers who take advantage of the unrest to break-in into these locations to steal (i.e. - supplies, luxury items, laptops and electronics). Set-up "sacrifice" items they could quickly get and leave. Remember, YOUR life is priceless! 
- DO NOT ENGAGE hostile elements as much as possible.  Your party might be grossly outnumbered and unprepared to respond to the violence. Fight only to defend if you absolutely must then run to escape.

3. "Go" or "no go". 

- In any survival situation, the decision to either stay or leave your location must always be considered carefully. 
- Sometimes it is safer to stay and ride out the conflict in a secure, self-contained location. Unless overwhelming violence engulfs the vicinity  and your group has a flight plan to follow for your escape, sit still and keep each other's morale up. This region of the world is mostly arid dessert, an unforgiving environment and travelling it without adequate water and supplies is almost suicidal. One can't also be sure of the the level of hostility one might encounter outside during your escape.   
- If the threat is great making an escape absolutely necessary, travel light with with only the barest essentials.

4. If travelling on foot -

- Travel quickly and in pairs (buddy system).
- Team leaders must occassionally take into account members of the party throughout the duration of travel.
- If you reach a junction or point of uncertainty anytime during your escape, two scouts must investigate first to ascertain on how safe it would be to go on.
- Keep a low profile and don't draw attention to yourselves. The less contact with others, the better.
- Walls and structures can be reference points and transient shelters but don't stick to them too closely or for too long. If a bombing occurs, debris and materials can cause injury.

5. Be prepared and ready.

- Do not expect a timely, smooth or organized rescue or pick-up. Again, this is the reality of the government's limitations. Be prepared to make do with what you have to the best that you can.  
- Be able to leave or evacuate your location in 30 seconds. Maintain a constant state of readiness with bags packed. Though clothes become less critical, pack a jacket and blanket to keep warm or improvise as shelter.
- It is advised that at least one member in the party have an emergency medical kit at the ready.
- The most critical thing to remember in all of this is to keep mentally focused and not let fear turn into panic. Reassure each other frequently, rest occasionally and constantly re-assess your choices.