Strong winds can't blow away dream of better life for Filipinos

Agriculture • Fri Dec 22, 2017 06:42 AM  •  79   0
By Manny Piñol
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DAVAO CITY  - Strong winds gusting ahead of the landfall of Typhoon Vinta nearly spoiled yesterday the staging of two historic events - the commissioning of two Philippine-made multi-mission offshore vessels (MMOV) and the launching of the Bigas-Mais Blend which would make the country sufficient in staple grains supply.

As the crowd waited for the arrival of President Rody Duterte at about 3 p.m., easterly gusts of wind topped off the canvas roof of the steel truss-structure serving as the venue for the activity which was set up beside the Sasa Wharf where BRP Lapulapu and BRP Francisco Dagohoy were docked for commissioning.

Guests scampered to safety as almost a third of the canvas roof was rolled over and violently flapping as the gusts of wind continued to blow.From a distance, I saw what was happening and immediately proceeded to the area.

I was approached by the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) and the Presidential Security Group (PSG) who asked what our option was if the venue would be rendered unsafe because of the strong winds and the rolled over canvas roof.

They suggested that the activity be moved to the nearby Philippine Coast Guard gym which could only accommodate at most 200 people.

The problem with that suggestion was President Duterte will not be able to view the new vessels and the commissioning will be meaningless.

More than that, there was no more time to move the equipment and set up a new stage with a backdrop as President Duterte was already on his way to the venue.

It was a moment of despair for most who had given up hope that the situation could still be saved but for me, it was crunch time and a time to be innovative.

Pondering, I told myself that all the efforts to prepare for this historic event would go to naught and the sacrifices of people who prepared everything would be rendered useless if I did not come up with something to save the situation.

Being a farm boy who grew up in an environment of scarcity and adversity, I have developed a sense of improvisation, which almost comes naturally, to cope with challenges and yesterday it made the difference.

After assessing the problem, I asked the PMS and the PSG to delay the arrival of the Presidential Party by about 30 minutes as I figured out a way to stop the strong winds from hammering the tarp-covered structure.

Seeing the huge cargo containers in the area, I asked the wharf superintendent to build a wall of cargo containers four-stacks high to serve as a windbreaker which they did in record time using the gigantic container-piling tractor.

As the giant tractor was building the wind-breaker, I immediately ordered Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona to mobilize the Coast Guard men and the workers in the wharf to climb up the steel structure and pull back the tarp-roof to its place.

In less than 30 minutes, we set up the wall preventing the strong wind from battering the venue, pulled back the roof and the PMS and PSG gave the clearance to the Presidential Party to proceed to the venue.

The team leader of the Biyaheng Bukid Regional Engagement team, Ace Padua, posted an article profusely praising me for the improvisation but I told her what I did was purely common sense.

Actually, what I did was something that farmers do to protect their crops and fruit trees from strong winds which occasionally hit the farms.

They do this by planting strong and sturdy trees in the perimeter of the farm and these are called the "wind breakers."

Yesterday, our "wind breakers" were the cargo containers.

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(First photo by King Rodriguez shows President Duterte arriving at the venue with the containers in the background protecting him and the structure from the strong winds. Second photo taken by Ace Padua shows me supervising the piling of the containers to serve as the wall or wind breaker. Last two photos were taken by King Christopher Camba showing the MMOVs and the opening ceremonies.)

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