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Back to basics: Small town goes back to “over-over” to ready for storms

BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Eric Tenerife used to have an Icom 2-GAT VHF handheld transceiver and a Skyprobe telescopic antenna.

Those were objects of envy in the 1990s.

Long before mobile phones became the norm for communication, Very High Frequency two-way radio was widely used for business applications like in radio broadcast and as a hobby.

What was also called as DXing or “Y-M, Y-M (Young Man)” or “Y-L, Y-L (Young Lady).”

(READ also: Little town goes big on improving basic services in Sugarlandia)

Eric is back as a community broadcaster in Hinobaan, a town 200 kilometers south here once known for gold mines and Communist rebels, now for its beautiful beach fronts.

He is also publicist and policy consultant for new Mayor Daph Reliquias who has already issued an executive order setting up a unified command center for disaster response.

Just in time for the second half of the year when powerful storms make landfall in the country.

These storms are historically the deadlier mong the 20 plus ones that barrel through the Philippines annually.

Hinobaan was one of the hardest hit areas in the province’s southern corridor when Typhoon Odette (Rai), a Category 4 Storm, lashed through the Philippines a week before Christmas just last year.

Help was slow to arrive to the town and it’s neighboring city, Sipalay, as power poles knocked down by strong winds, blocked the national highway.

Tenerife told DNX the Dial D.A.P.H. emergency response hotline will be available through short messaging system (SMS) or text and through direct messaging on social media.

But the recent Odette experience taught town officials, he said, that SMS is not a robust platform when power is down and when the infrastructure or cellular antennas of telecommunications firms are still limited.

Tenerife said they have already distributed dual band base radio transceivers to the 13 villages of the town to serve as a back up during calamities and emergencies.

Dual band radio is easier to power up with a DC supply, like a car battery, when power poles are down, like in the last storm.

Fishing boats owned by townsfolk will also be hooked to a dedicated frequency for them to directly contact the newly established disaster command center.

Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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