Tropical Typhoon Ondoy, also known as Ketsana, was bigger than Katrina. With 410mm of rain, it unleashed relentless rain good for 1 month in 24 hours. It devastated Manila and more than 25 nearby towns leaving hundreds dead and 370,000 people displaced. The total amount of damage rose to Php 4.6B ($97.8M) It’s the strongest typhoon that we saw in 40 years and left the Philippines on its knee.
During the height of the calamity, panic and fear was everywhere but one of the things that really amazed a lot of people was the initiative that the internet-savvy Pinoys displayed. It was like a wide implementation of social media tools in the middle of a calamity. Information was distributed and communication was established thru various social media channels.
Here’s how social media was implemented
Cellphones and PDA’s – We Pinoys are known for being SMS addicts. Though SMS was the primary medium, Twitter played a role in sharing information and bridging people with government agencies and non-government organizations who are leading the rescue.
Facebook – Users posted videos and pictures of what’s happening in their area and gave important information about passable roads. It was like live reporting. It raised awareness and BBC America was able to pick it up.
Twitter – Yes, good ol’ Twitter was really awesome! Pinoys were Tweeting for help, distributing information, seeking for volunteers and reporting casualties. From ordinary pinoys to celebrities, Twitter became an equalizer for everybody to talk. Good thing some non-government organizations where also present, listening to Tweets.
Blogs – Some websites were down and it was hard to post important information. Bloggers did their part in updating their sites and posting phone numbers and relief operations. Barrio Siete immediately started a bayanihan fund drive to raise donations for flood victims. They are still accepting donations.
YouTube and Flickr – Oh yes! Just glad that we are gadget addicts and was able to take videos and pictures of events as they happened. The courageous ones really did a good job in recording them.
In the midst of panic, we became a big network passing and distributing information. With the latest gadgets today and free social media channels, it became possible for us to communicate faster. In the old days, only TV and newspaper reporters were able to do this. Today, even a regular individual can report live from their own area.
This is social media, powered by the Pinoy spirit of Bayanihan. Go Pinoy!!!