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Extreme weather events and related

disasters in the Philippines, 200408:
a sign of what climate change will mean?
Graciano P. Yumul, Jr., Nathaniel A. Cruz, Nathaniel T. Servando and
Carla B. Dimalanta1

Being an archipelagic nation, the Philippines is susceptible and vulnerable to the ill-effects of
weather-related hazards. Extreme weather events, which include tropical cyclones, monsoon
rains and dry spells, have triggered hazards (such as floods and landslides) that have turned
into disasters. Financial resources that were meant for development and social services have had
to be diverted in response, addressing the destruction caused by calamities that beset different
regions of the country. Changing climatic patterns and weather-related occurrences over the past
five years (200408) may serve as an indicator of what climate change will mean for the country.
Early recognition of this possibility and the implementation of appropriate action and measures,
through disaster risk management, are important if loss of life and property is to be minimised,
if not totally eradicated. This is a matter of urgent concern given the geographical location and
geological characteristics of the Philippines.

Keywords: climate change, disaster risk management, disasters, extreme weather

events, natural hazards, the Philippines

The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) can be said to have led to three distinct results (IPCC, 2007): 1) a realisation
through observation and numerical climate modelling that natural climate variabil-
ity cannot fully explain global warming; 2) man-made activities related to industrial
activity, transportation and agriculture, inter alia, specifically concerning greenhouse
gas emissions, have contributed to global warming, making the change in climate
dominantly anthropogenic in nature; and 3) corresponding disasters and other
associated ill-effects of natural hazards, notably extreme weather events, will be
experienced more often and at a heightened level of intensity if nothing is done to
abate global warming (see, for example, Karl and Trenberth, 2003; Koakutsu and
Watanabe, 2006; IPCC, 2007). This problem is compounded by increasing popula-
tion rates and the reality of more people residing in areas that are no longer suitable
for living (such as on riverbanks and mountain slopes). Changes in the frequency,
duration and intensity of tropical cyclones, rises in precipitation brought about by
the warming of the seas, the melting of the polar ice caps and increases in sea levels
(adversely affecting coastal communities), and the emergence and re-emergence of
tropical diseases are some of the reported and projected consequences of climate change

Disasters, 2011, 35(2): 362382. 2011 The Author(s). Disasters Overseas Development Institute, 2011
Published by Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA
Extreme weather events and related disasters in the Philippines, 200408 363

(see, for example, Negri et al., 2005; Comiso, 2006; Immerzeel, 2008; Dasgupta et
al., 2009). Unfortunately, developing countries and island states are most vulnerable
to climate change (Mheux, Dominey-Howes and Lloyd, 2007; Yumul et al., 2008a).
Developing countries have less resources to ensure that their communities are pre-
pared for the ill-effects of climate change, specifically global warming. Island states,
meanwhile, are vulnerable to sea-level rise, which is expected to continue if green-
house gas emissions do not abate.
The Philippines, an archipelago and a developing country, is vulnerable to the
risks posed by natural hazards exacerbated by global warming (Harmeling, 2008;
International Development Research Centre, 2009). It is for this reason that the
Philippines, together with similarly-situated countries, have highlighted the impor-
tance of adaptationto date, most discussions in the field of climate change-related
negotiations have focused on mitigation. To understand better the possible effects of
climate change in the Philippines, it is critical to collect, record, collate and analyse
all data and information with possible links to climate change so that appropriate
scenario-building and extrapolations can occur. It is in this regard that this paper
hopes to add to the database on extreme weather events and related disasters in the
country and to determine how recognition of weather patterns can help the Philippines
in its adaptation efforts. Understanding of extreme weather events and accompany-
ing natural hazards, risks and disasters may not only benefit the Philippines but also
similarly-situated nations.

Geological setting
The Philippine archipelago is an island arc system composed of volcanic, oceanic and
micro-continental blocks that have been sutured together over time (see, for exam-
ple, Tamayo et al., 2004; Dimalanta and Yumul, 2006; Yumul et al., 2006, 2008b;
Queao et al., 2009) (see Figure 1a). This recognition is critical as it explains the
manner in which the countrys physical attributes react to extreme weather events.
Being in the tropics, the combination and interaction of natural elements, such as sun,
water and wind, have resulted in the formation, erosion and deposition of thick soil
covers. Depending on the original rock that has undergone alteration to form soil,
the binding clay minerals, the plants and other organic materials in the soil, the
steepness of the slope on which the soil were laid down, and the amount of precipita-
tion in a particular area, soil can be easily transported through earthquake-or rain-
induced mass wasting (for instance, landslide) processes (see, for example, Terlien,
1998; Evans et al., 2007; Saldivar-Sali and Einstein, 2007).
The Philippines, being in the Pacific Ring of Fire, also is characterised by vol-
canic arc systems associated with ancient and present-day geothermal systems (see,
for example, Imai, 2002; Yumul et al., 2003a; Castillo and Newhall, 2004; Andal
et al., 2005; Polv et al., 2007; Suerte et al., 2007). Consequently, hydrothermal
alterations occur in these volcanic areas, which can be associated with mineralisation.
This is why most hydrothermally-altered regions are the mining districts of the
364 Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. et al.

Figure 1 a) Geological map of the Philippines showing major tectonic features*; and
b) Climate map of the Philippines using the Modified Coronas Classification (based on
the amount of rainfall)

1a 1b

Figure 1a note:
* Most of the operating mines can be found within the volcanic arcs that are characterised by hydrothermally-altered,
clayey areas.
Figure 1a source: authors.

Figure 1b note:
Different parts of the country are classified into four climate types: I two pronounced seasons (dry from November
April; wet the rest of the year); II no dry season with very pronounced maximum rainfall between November and
December; III seasons not very pronounced, relatively dry from NovemberApril; wet the rest of the year; IV rainfall
more or less evenly distributed throughout the year.
Figure 1b source: DOST-PAGASA, 2008a.

country (Bellon and Yumul, 2000; Yumul et al., 2003b) (see Figure 1a). Hydrothermal
alteration, which involves the conversion of minerals to clays, makes rocks and soils
susceptible to movement in the event of sustained precipitation.
Furthermore, the Philippines, being an island arc system bounded by subduction
zones on both sides, also is characterised by geological faults and fractures (see, for
example Mitchell and Balce, 1990; Bautista et al., 2001). Being highly fractured, rocks
tend to be prone to weathering, mass wasting and other related processes. Faults and
fractures may also act as pathways for hydrothermal fluids that alter the fractured
rocks, making them more susceptible to mass wasting (see, for example, Dimalanta,
1996; Querubin and Yumul, 2001; Jimenez et al., 2002). As will be shown below,
in almost all of the reported landslides in the country, the geology of the region has
been a major contributory factor.
Extreme weather events and related disasters in the Philippines, 200408 365

Meteorological setting
Approximately 20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR)
every year with seven to eight making landfall. Most of the tropical cyclones form in
the Philippine Sea, although some of them have been forming recently in the South
China Sea (see, for example, Elsner, Kossin and Jagger, 2008; Lyon and Camargo,
2009). Two wind systemsthe northeast monsoon, which is active from Octoberlate
March; and the southwest monsoon, prevalent during the months of JulySeptember
bring heavy rains to the country (see, for example, Yumul et al., 2008a). Planting
seasons in the Philippines have been tied to the onset of the rainy season in specific
parts of the country. Another source of rain is the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone
(ITCZ), which is the product of the convergence of the northern and southern hem-
isphere trade winds. The ITCZ lies south of the equator from DecemberFebruary,
migrating northward from March. It reaches its northernmost position (north of the
Philippines) in August and September, and slowly begins its southward movement
before the year-end. The El Nio Southern Oscillation is another phenomenon that
affects the country whenever it is active (Jose et al., 2000; Wang, Wu and Fu, 2000;
Juneng and Tangang, 2005; Dawe, Moya and Valencia, 2009). With the availability of
recent information, a slight modification in the climate map of the Philippines has been
introduced to represent correctly what
Figure 2 Natural hazard map of the the country experiences now (DOST-
Philippines PAGASA, 2008a) (see Figure 1b). Available
natural hazard maps, specifically of storm
surges and thunderstorms, show the spa-
tial distributions and where these events
can occur, as well as their temporal
relationships with the extreme weather
triggers (DOST-PAGASA, 2008b) (see
Figure 2).

The past five years

Below is a summary of what has tran-
spired, in terms of extreme weather
events, between 2004 and 2008 (the past
five years at the time of writing). The
events mentioned are those that have had
The figure shows some of the natural hazards that affect a tremendous impact either on the lives
different parts of the Philippines, including storm surges of people, through loss of life and/or
and thunderstorms. Some areas experience up to 125 thun-
derstorms per year. Black shaded areas have been affected
property, or on the economy, mostly due
by storm surges. to agricultural losses and the destruction
Source: DOST-PAGASA, 2008b. of infrastructure.

Table 1 Tropical cyclones that entered the PAR in 200408*

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Mean

TD TS TY Total TD TS TY Total TD TS TY Total TD TS TY Total TD TS TY Total (1948


January 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.4
Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. et al.

February 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.3

March 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.3

April 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0.5

May 0 1 1 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 2 4 1.0

June 0 1 3 4 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1.5

July 0 1 0 1 2 0 1 3 1 0 3 4 0 0 1 1 1 0 2 3 3.3

August 0 1 2 3 1 0 1 2 0 2 1 3 0 2 1 3 1 1 1 3 3.2

September 1 1 2 4 2 0 2 4 0 0 2 2 0 1 2 3 0 1 3 4 3.0

October 0 0 3 3 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 3 0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 2.6

November 2 1 1 4 2 0 0 2 0 0 2 2 0 0 3 3 3 1 0 4 2.1

December 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1.4

Total 5 7 13 25 11 1 5 17 4 5 11 20 0 4 9 13 5 6 10 21 19.6

* There were fewer tropical cyclones in 2005 and 2007 compared to 2004, 2006 and 2008.
TD = Tropical depression (up to 63 kilometres per hour)
TS = Tropical storm (64117 kilometres per hour)
TY = Typhoon (more than 117 kilometres per hour)
Source: DOST-PAGASA, 2009.
Figure 3 Tracks of tropical cyclones that entered the PAR from 200408 (ae) and composite tropical cyclone tracks for 200408 (f)

Source: DOST-PAGASA, 2008c.

Extreme weather events and related disasters in the Philippines, 200408
368 Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. et al.

2004: deadly last-quarter storms

A total of 25 tropical cyclones entered the PAR, with six making landfall, in 2004.
Of these 25 tropical cyclones, five were tropical depressions (up to 63 kilometres per
hour), seven were tropical storms (64117 kilometres per hour) and 13 became typhoons
(more than 117 kilometres per hour) (see Table 1 and Figure 3). Four successive
tropical cyclones between 14 November and 4 DecemberTyphoon Muifa (local
name: Unding), Typhoon Merbok (local name: Violeta), Tropical Depression Winnie
(local name: Winnie), Tropical Depression Nanmadol (local name: Yoyong)hit
the eastern seaboard of Luzon, specifically Aurora-Quezon Provinces (see Figures 4
and 5a). Landslides, which uprooted trees and deposited other debris, led to the
artificial damming of the Agos River system, and ultimately its breach (Gaillard,
Liamzon and Villanueva, 2007). This resulted in a flash-flood that impacted on the
towns of General Nakar, Infanta and Real in Quezon in the early evening of 29
November (David and Felizardo, 2006). This destructive event resulted in massive loss
of life and destruction of property, estimated at PhP 13 billion (around USD 232
million). Total rainfall was recorded at 342 millimetres, as compared to the climato-
logical norm of 18 millimetres (the daily long-term average for 29 November).

2005: calm before the storm

2005 saw a respite in terms of tropical cyclone events. Only 17 tropical cyclones
entered the PAR in the course of the year, of which three were tropical depressions,
three were tropical storms and 11 attained
Figure 4 Sample of areas devastated by typhoon status. Seven tropical cyclones
different hazards in 200408 made landfall (see Table 1 and Figure 3).
Consequently, the year was relatively quiet
in terms of extreme weather event-related
natural hazards and disasters.

2006: experiencing things like

never before
2006 commenced with a major disaster:
Guinsaugon in Southern Leyte suffered
a major landslide that buried the entire
village. Almost 1,000 casualties (dead and
missing and presumed dead) and the de-
struction of a large amount of property
were reported (see, for example, Inter-
Agency Committee on the Guinsaugon,
Southern Leyte, Landslide Tragedy, 2006;
Lagmay et al., 2006; Evans et al., 2007).
This landslide was triggered by too much
rain: 787 millimetres between 1 and 20
Source: authors. February, as compared to the monthly
Extreme weather events and related disasters in the Philippines, 200408 369

Figure 5 Destructive events in 200408

Notes and sources:

a. Satellite imagery from 2 December 2004 of tropical depression Nanmadol, which was one of the four tropical cyclones
that caused devastation in the Aurora-Quezon Provinces. Source: DOST-PAGASA, 2004.
b. Volcanic deposits from past eruptions of the Mayon Volcano were re-mobilised when super-typhoon Durian deposited
rains on the Bicol region in 2006. Source: author (G.P. Yumul, Jr.).
c. The agricultural sector was greatly affected by the dry spell in JuneJuly 2007. Source: author (G.P. Yumul, Jr.).
d. The mountainous areas in Antique Province, Panay Island, suffered landslides due to Typhoon Fengshen and the
southwest monsoon. Source: L.O. Suerte.

climatological norm of 290 millimetres (Yumul et al., 2008a; see Figure 4). It happened
during a La Nia event that formed relatively late, in November instead of in June.
The southwest monsoon also arrived late and during the El Nio phase of the
ENSO. Three super-typhoons (maximum winds near the centre were in excess of
200 kilometres per hour) entered the PAR and made landfall: Cimaron (local name:
Paeng); Chebi (local name: Queenie; and Durian (local name: Reming). This was
the first time that three consecutive super-typhoons had done so in the country (Yumul
et al., 2008a).
Twenty tropical cyclones entered the PAR, of which four were tropical depressions,
five were tropical storms and 11 were typhoons, including the three super-typhoons;
10 in total made landfall (see Table 1 and Figure 3).
2006 also saw Typhoon Xangsane (local name: Milenyo) strike directly Metropoli-
tan Manila in the National Capital Region, resulting in significant loss of life (197
deaths) and property (Yumul et al., 2008a).
370 Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. et al.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council reported a total of some PhP 20 billion
(around USD 389 million) of damage to agriculture, infrastructure and property
due to the series of typhoons.

2007: a dry La Nia event

This was the year when the Philippines experienced a dry spell during the period
of JuneJuly, with adverse consequences for the agriculture, power and water sec-
tors. A high-pressure area (HPA) along the eastern side of the country stayed put
for an extended period of time, leading to a prolonged bout of fine, clear weather,
but with a deficient supply of rain for Luzon. Observed rainfall during June and July
was 40 per cent below normal (see Figure 5c). Only two tropical cyclones entered
the PAR up to July as compared to eight between January and July. These two
tropical cyclones did not even make landfall. The ITCZ, which was supposed to move
from Mindanao to Luzon, stayed in Mindanao and the Visayas, resulting in a wet
spell in those areas, especially in Southern Mindanao. The total number of tropical
cyclones that entered PAR in 2007 was 13 (four tropical storms and nine typhoons);
four made landfall (see Table 1 and Figure 3).

2008: an exceptional wet spell

The tail-end of the cold front ushered in 2008, and the northeast monsoon deposited
plenty of rains along the eastern seaboard, specifically in the area of Samar-Leyte
(see Figure 4). October, November and December 2008 were also characterised by
very wet conditions, as the monsoon system changed from the southwest monsoon
to the northeast monsoon. Flash-floods and landslides manifested themselves in these
periods (JanuaryMarch and OctoberDecember 2008). In Northern Luzon (Laoag
Vigan area), no tropical cyclone made landfall but rainfall increased by as much as
400-fold during the months of MayJuly (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and
Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) data) (Figure 4). The normal amount
of rainfall in this period is 1,078 millimetres. Again, floods and landslides charac-
terised the period, adversely affecting the economy in this part of the country. The
total number of tropical cyclones that entered the PAR was 21, of which five were
tropical depressions, five were tropical storms and 11 typhoons; seven made landfall
(see Table 1 and Figure 4).
Two other notable features of 2008 were the three tropical cyclones that formed in
the South China Sea and the two tropical cyclones that cut across Mindanao, caus-
ing significant destruction. These are not the norm in that, as noted above, most
tropical cyclones form in the Philippine Sea in nearly the same latitudinal location
as Mindanao and generally move in a northwest direction (Camargo et al., 2007).2
Thus, tropical cyclones seldom affect Mindanao.
Finally, in late November and December, mountainous areas in Luzon, such as
Baguio, experienced cooler temperatures (10.816 degrees Celsius) as compared to
the mean annual temperature of 18.3 degrees Celsius.3 This had an adverse effect on
Extreme weather events and related disasters in the Philippines, 200408 371

the vegetable industry, especially in the mountainous regions, as the cooler tempera-
ture destroyed a large number of plants. This was particularly apparent in Benguet
Province (see Figure 4).
The weather events that affected the country in 2008 resulted in an estimated
PhP 18 billion (approximately USD 404 million) of damage and losses.


Changing weather patterns in the past five years: factors, impacts

and responses
The scientific literature and, very recently, the mass media have documented
extensively changing weather patterns worldwide and the resulting natural hazard-
related disasters and impacts (see, for example, Lavell, 2007; UNFCCC, 2008; Stine,
Huybers and Fung, 2009; Zhang, Lindell and Prater, 2009). There are several reasons
for this, including:

heightened awareness among people and the media, allowing for the immediate
dissemination and recording of information on the span and magnitude of any
changes in weather and the accompanying ill-effects;
refinements in technology, facilitating recognition of minute weather events, which
in the past have not been detected by prevailing technologies; and, of course
climate change (see, for example, Easterling et al., 2000; Cutter and Emrich, 2005;
Klotzbach, 2006; Kleinen, 2007).

Since the release of the IPCCs Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, an increasing amount
of scientific information has been accumulated that supports the contention that
contemporary global warming is human-induced due to greenhouse gas emissions
rather than being part of a natural climate variability cycle (see, for example, van Aalst,
2006; Kanie, 2008; Quiggin, 2008; Sari, 2008). For that matter, the period 200408
in the Philippines is interesting for two reasons: years ending with an even number
(2004, 2006, 2008) experienced more tropical cyclones than those ending with an
odd number (2005, 2007); and extreme weather events in this period range from
tropical cyclones making landfall to the prevalence of a dry spell. In most of these
events, ENSO is considered a major factorthey were triggered by ENSO-related
sea surface temperature anomalies (see, for example, Wang, Wu and Li, 2003; Lyon
and Camargo, 2009). El Nio events in South America are usually wet but in the
Philippines, they have usually been characterised by dry conditions. The reverse is
true with regard to a La Nia event, which results in floods (see, for example, Jose,
Francisco and Cruz, 1999; Juneng and Tangang, 2005).
Nonetheless, recent observations reveal that ENSO rainfall connectivity is not as
straightforward as previously thought (see, for example, Wang, Wu and Fu, 2000;
Aldrian and Susanto, 2003; Chang et al., 2003). The 2006 El Nio event, for instance,
372 Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. et al.

was actually characterised by excessive rains and very strong typhoons (Yumul et
al., 2008a). This has been interpreted as indicating that, although the prevailing
condition is that of an El Nio event, the feedback mechanism in fact represents
the tail-end of the previous La Nia event. This has been noted before as having
occurred in the Philippines (see, for example, Lyon et al., 2006). Furthermore, other
factors, including the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM), the East Asian Summer
Monsoon (EASM) and the Western North Pacific Summer Monsoon (WNPSM), affect
ENSO, which may account for the observed variations (Wang, Wu and Lau, 2001).
Although the period of time under review is very short, the extreme weather events
that occurred and the disasters triggered have far-reaching effects. The destruction
in the country resulted in the diversion of financial resources for rescuing, respond-
ing, rehabilitating and ultimately reconstructing affected communities. An average
of 0.5 per cent of the Philippines gross domestic product (GDP) has been lost each
year to calamities and disasters. Budgets allocated for basic social services and devel-
opmental initiatives have been used instead to assist communities in need. What has

Figure 6 Comparison of budget appropriations vis--vis the cost of damage in

Philippine Pesos, 19942008*

* No attempt was made to normalise costs with respect to peso values in a particular year nor was there any correction
to account for inflation. What is obvious from the figure is that the financial resources allotted by the Government of
the Philippines as a Calamity Fund were never enough to cover the cost of damage caused by the extreme weather events.
Average exchange rate for 19942008: USD 1.00 = Php 43.00.
Source: unpublished Office of Civil Defense data.
Extreme weather events and related disasters in the Philippines, 200408 373

made things difficult is that, although the national government and the provincial
governments up to the municipal governments had funds intended for preparation
for disasters, to respond to calamities and to initiate rehabilitation, these funds were
never enough to address the damage caused by extreme weather events and related
natural hazards (see Figure 6).
In spite of these challenges, lessons were learned in terms of disaster risk manage-
ment, which are being applied now to reduce loss of lives and damage to property.
Disaster risk management, to a certain extent, is being integrated into climate change
adaptation as most of the calamities generated by extreme weather events are deemed
to be affected by climate change (Venton and La Trobe, 2008; Cosbey, 2009; ISDR,
2009). However, although an increasing number of policymakers and climate experts
agree that there is enough scientific evidence to show that climate change is indeed
affecting the world (see, for example, Hasselmann and Barker, 2008), there are some
who remain unconvinced that it, specifically global warming, is already adversely
affecting nations. In addition, others question how to handle the projected economic
risks related to climate change (see, for example, Schneider, 2008). A lack of data,
the short duration of available information, the uncertainty regarding the effects of
climate change in a particular area, and other possible explanations have been put
forth to diminish, if not totally undermine, the case that most contemporary extreme
weather events and associated natural hazards are caused by a changing climate
regime. It is critical, therefore, to record knowledge and events so as to accumulate
as much information as possible. This can be used to determine the presence of any
trend and serve as inputs for policy direction and formulation, which can lead to the
creation of tools comprising actionable plans and programmes that will address, inter
alia, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. Such a set of initiatives
would make engagement with donor agencies and partner institutions easier as gaps
can be easily pinpointedthis may require external support (Asian Development Bank,
2009; Mosquera-Machado and Dilley, 2009).
In the Philippines, several initiatives have been introduced to tackle proactively
disasters related to extreme weather events. A community-based early-warning sys-
tem, involving the gathering of data, interpretation of results and dissemination of
forecasts and warnings to solicit appropriate response from the affected populace,
is in place (see, for example, Allen, 2006; Oxfam, 2008). Together with intensive
information and education campaigns focused on natural hazards and the attendant
risks, the sharing of best practices on being proactive in mitigating the ill-effects of
disasters occurs. Furthermore, the capacities of local government units are enhanced
through training, emphasising the need for their communities to assume ownership
of their disaster risk management programmes (see, for example, Oxfam, 2008; Asian
Development Bank, 2009). Improved land-use planning and corresponding appro-
priate policies are slowly, but surely, being implemented. Publicprivate partner-
ship also plays a critical role, through livelihood programmes, housing projects and
education, for instance, in minimising the ill-effects of extreme weather events in
the country (NDCC, 2009).
374 Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. et al.

Excessive to deficient rainfall anomalies and associated

natural hazards
Excessive rainfall characterised the years 2004, 2006 and 2008. It resulted in numerous
problems, including:

the artificial damming of rivers, which breached and led to flash-floods and the
depositing of debris and logs (for instance, in Aurora-Quezon in 2004 and Iloilo
on Panay Island in 2008);
the remobilisation of lahar deposits, resulting in the avulsion of rivers and flash-
floods (for example, the 2006 event in Legaspi City and its vicinity (located close
to the Mayon Volcano in Albay, Bicol region) due to Typhoon Durian (local name:
Reming)) (see Figure 5b);
excessive flooding, leading to the destruction of communities along riverbanks,

as well as fishponds, agricultural lands, and road and bridge arteries, isolating vil-
lages (such as flooding associated with the Cagayan River Basin, Pampanga-Agno
River Basin, Bicol River Basin and the Jalaur River Basin in Iloilo) (see Figure 5d); and
mass wasting, mostly landslides, which caused a great deal of destruction (such as
the landslides in Guinsaugon in Southern Leyte and Masara in Compostela Valley
in 2006 and 2008, respectively).

Extreme weather conditions, characterised by strong rains, winds and high waves,
in congruence with other factors, also have triggered several events, including:

the sinking of water transport vessels, leading to an oil spill, the drowning of
people and long-term ecological imbalance (for instance, the M/T Solar I oil spill
in 2006 and the capsizing of ships and boats in 2008);
the flooding of underground mining tunnels and the cessation of mining opera-

tions (for example, the Benguet Mine accident in Baguio, Benguet Province, in
2008); and
the grounding of transport facilities, mostly ships and aeroplanes, during extreme
weather events, affecting, inter alia, the movement of people and supplies (see
Figure 4).

In terms of precipitation anomalies and rain-induced landslides, the Philippines

has experienced several tragedies brought about by these natural hazards. Below are
two examples from outside the 200408 period. First, a landslide occurred in the
Cherry Hills subdivision of Antipolo City, east of Manila, on the evening of 3 August
1999. The area is underlain by lacustrine deposits made up of sandstone, siltstone
and claystone. Rainfall during that time totalled 565 millimetres (following three days
of rain), causing the supersaturation of the rocks and soil, triggering the landslide
(Morales, Camaclang and Reyes, 2001). The normal amount of rainfall for the
month of August is 400 millimetres. Second, in December 2003, several landslides
occurred near the mountain slopes in Panaon, Southern Leyte, which is underlain
by lateritic soil produced by the weathering of the underlying ultramafic rocks.
Extreme weather events and related disasters in the Philippines, 200408 375

Rainfall during that time was 556.4 millimetres as compared to the climatological
norm of 198 millimetres (see Figure 4).
As observed worldwide, excessive rainfall causes oversaturation of rocks and soil
with water, which results in landslides (see, for example, Guzzetti et al., 2008). The
problem would be exacerbated if the area were highly fractured and/or character-
ised by intensely weathered, clayey materials, which can easily move. The presence
of trees and vegetation can indeed retard run-off and even sliding along mountain
slopes. However, when the slope becomes water-supersaturated, trees and vegetation
without deep roots anchored in the bedrock can act as dead-weights, hastening the
mass wasting process, as has been observed in China and Indonesia, for instance
(Gabet and Dunne, 2002). Indeed, understanding of the rainfalllandslide continuum
is complicated by several factors, including the geology, soil characteristics, slope angle
and vegetation cover of a landslide-prone area (see, for example, Tangestani, 2004;
Wooten et al., 2008).
Table 2 shows some of the major weather-related disasters in the Philippines in
recent years. Excessive rains connected to different weather systems, such as the La
Nia phenomenon, monsoons and tropical cyclones, contributed to these events.
At the other extreme of the spectrum is a lack of water, which occurred in 2005
and 2007, with more apparent effects in the latter year. As Table 1 shows, 2005 and
2007 experienced 17 and 13 tropical cyclones, respectively, which are at the lower
end of the average number of tropical cyclones entering the PAR. During the 2007
dry spell, the country suffered adverse effects in the agricultural, power, health and
water sectors (see Figure 5c). These same sectors are normally affected in other coun-
tries where drought occurs (see, for example, Cook et al., 2007). To counter these
effects, varieties of rice requiring less water and fast-growing types of vegetables were
planted, complemented by infrastructure support in the form of shallow tube water
wells and other farm implements. Geothermal, natural gas and coal-powered plants
were run continuously to compensate for the shortfall in the hydroelectric plant-
generated power supply. Health-related problems, both in humans and animals, were
observed during the dry spell. These were addressed aggressively to prevent outbreaks.
Lastly, in areas of the country impacted by the dry spell, water conservation was in
effect. One should note that, while Luzon and parts of the Visayas were experiencing
a dry spell, Mindanao, especially the southern part, was experiencing a wet spell
due to the ITCZ hovering in that part of the country in the months of June and July
(Yumul et al., 2010).
Finally, the minerals industry has been affected by extreme weather events in the
country and has taken due notice of developments. Quarry operations that mostly
involve nickel mining are suspended every time the mining area receives a large
amount of rain. Loading on barges and the shipment of ores can only occur in the
absence of rough seas. Some of the accidents involving tailings dam failure (the
Rapu-Rapu mine spill in Albay, Bicol, in 2005), landslides and associated under-
ground flooding (Benguet Corporation flooding in Baguio in 2008), and landslides
of hydrothermally-altered rocks, which destroyed a nearby mining community
(Compostela landslide in Davao in 2008) were triggered by extreme rainfall anomalies
376 Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. et al.

Table 2 Examples of major disasters in the Philippines between 2004 and 2008

Location Date Amount of Normal Triggering Geology

rainfall rainfall factor
(mm) (mm)

Real, Infanta 29 November 342 18 (daily Tropical Infanta, Real and General Nakar
and Aurora, 2004 average) cyclone lie within the Agos River Basin;
Quezon underlain by unconsolidated
landslide sediments (from clay to boulder-
sized particles) derived from the
weathering and erosion of pre-
existing rocks. A large part of
this drainage basin is covered
with woodland whereas small
portions contain coconut and
grass (David and Felizardo, 2006).

Rapu-Rapu 30 October 900 ~300 Typhoon Intensely deformed and region-

tailings spill 2005 (monthly ally metamorphosed rocks;
norm) volcanogenic massive sulphide
deposits are hosted by the
quartzsericite schists (Yumul
et al., 2006).

Guinsaugon, 17 February 787 290 (monthly NE monsoon The rock mass consists of
Southern 2006 norm) sheared and brecciated volcanic,
Leyte sedimentary and volcaniclastic
landslide rocks; thick clay-rich gouge
zones have developed on the
slopes due to movement along
the Philippine Fault Zone which
runs through the area (Evans
et al., 2007).

Legaspi, 30 November 466 (in 24 16 (daily Tropical Pyroclastic materials (volcanic

Albay lahar 2006 hours) average) cyclone ash, boulders) extruded during
remobilisa- previous eruptions of Mayon
tion Volcano.

Iloilo, Panay June 2008 354 (on 20 300 (monthly Typhoon and Interbeds of sandstone, siltstone
Island June 2008) norm) SW monsoon and mudstone comprise the
flooding floodplain in the southern
portion of the Central Panay
Iloilo Basin.

Masara, 67 September 174 (monthly Typhoon The area is made up of volcanic

Compostela 2008 norm) rocks, such as andesite, which
Valley host the mineralisation, as well
landslide as sedimentary rocks; rock
alteration to clay due to miner-
alisation; splay of Philippine
Fault Zone passes through the
area, resulting in it being highly
Extreme weather events and related disasters in the Philippines, 200408 377

(see Figure 4). As a result, most mining companies have weather information col-
lection protocols specific to their areas of operation, and local variations in weather
and climate are integrated into their mining operation plans and programmes.

Increasing amounts of data and information point to anthropogenic causes more than
to natural climate variability as being responsible for the observed climate change,
specifically global warming. The past five years (200408) in the Philippines have
witnessed meteorological abnormalities that have affected the people and the coun-
try. Extreme weather events have ranged from strong typhoons to a dry spell. The
associated natural hazards, such as floods, landslides and storm surges, mostly con-
nected to tropical cyclones, have had a tremendous impact on the economy of the
Philippines. Logistics and financial resources earmarked for developmental work and
social services have had to be diverted to address the calamities.
It is in this light that the accumulation of local data and information and appro-
priate recording are critical for guiding the country in mapping out a course of
action in a prevailing environment undergoing human-induced climate change.
Information and education campaigns on natural hazards and disaster risk manage-
ment, the sharing of best practices on how to mitigate disasters proactively, and
enhancement of the capacity of local government units and communities, inter alia,
are occurring to enhance the resilience of the people to extreme weather events
and associated natural hazards. In essence, disaster risk management and climate
change adaptation share a number of similar attributes when applied on the ground.

Dr Graciano P. Yumul, Jr., Professor, National Institute of Geological Sciences,
University of the Philippines, Quezon City 1101, Philippines. Telephone: +63 2 4822856;
fax: +63 2 9296047; email:

Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. is Professor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences, College of
Science, University of the Philippines, and Undersecretary for Research and Development at the
Department of Science and Technology, the Philippines; Nathaniel A. Cruz is Division Chief at
the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Department
of Science and Technology, the Philippines; Nathaniel T. Servando is Deputy Administrator at
the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Department
of Science and Technology, the Philippines; and Carla B. Dimalanta is Associate Professor at the
National Institute of Geological Sciences, College of Science, University of the Philippines, the
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