Walang PAGASA?

(No Hope?)

Typhoon Frank (Fengshen) ravaged the Philippines today. At least 80 people were confirmed dead as of posting but this number is expected to rise. A Sulpicio Lines passenger ship, MV Princess of the Stars, with more than 700 passengers capsized off Romblon. As soon as I read the news by sms from the Philippines, I hurriedly booted my notebook to check the PAGASA website and verify the typhoon status. PAGASA is the acronym for Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. PAGASA coincidentally means HOPE in the Filipino vernacular. The government office is supposed to be the forecasting authority in times of calamities such as typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis in the country.

My jaw dropped when the laptop screen gave me this:

Walang PAGASA!

It read: “The connection has timed out/The server at http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph is taking too long to respond…Try Again.”

So I did try again, and again and again and again and again and again… After the nth refresh, I finally succeeded. The PAGASA site announced:


Public Storm Warning Signals elsewhere now lowered.

Residents in low lying areas and near mountain slopes under typhoon signals are advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas under signals 2 and 3 are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this typhoon.

Typhoon “Frank” will continue to enhance the Southwest Monsoon and bring rains over the Western sections of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 5:00 p.m. today.


How vague can a weather warning get? Where is elsewhere? What do “take all necessary precautions” and “take appropriate actions” mean? What should people do to make it “appropriate”?

I can’t help but compare PAGASA with its counterpart in Hong Kong, the HK Observatory. It is super hot here today. The HK Observatory through its website warned:



Very Hot Weather Warning

The Very Hot Weather Warning is now in force.

The Hong Kong Observatory is forecasting very hot weather
in Hong Kong tomorrow. The risk of heatstroke is high.

When engaged in outdoor work or activities, do drink plenty
of water and avoid over exertion. If not feeling well, take
a rest in the shade or cooler place as soon as possible.

People staying indoors without air-conditioning should keep
windows open as far as possible to ensure that there is
adequate ventilation.

The Hong Kong Observatory advises that prolonged exposure
under sunlight is to be avoided. Loose clothing, suitable
hats and UV-absorbing sunglasses can reduce the chance of
sunburn by solar ultraviolet radiation.

Swimmers and those taking part in outdoor activities should
use a sunscreen lotion of SPF 15 or above, and should
re-apply it frequently.


Now, that is very specific! People are instructed about what to do and what not to do. The advisory even gives suggestion to swimmers: use SPF 15 sunscreen lotion! My God, we have a killer typhoon in the Philippines. More than 80 are dead (and counting)… More than 20 typhoons hit the country every year, yet PAGASA can only advise to “TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION!!!”


Read similar post at duskfading’s blog


9 Responses to “Walang PAGASA?”

  1. 1 wei vines Lunes 23 Hunyo 2008 bandang 3:32 umaga

    haha… asa nga talaga…hayyy
    Joe: Oo nga e. Wawa naman tayo pag may bagyo.

  2. 2 Jim Lunes 23 Hunyo 2008 bandang 8:40 umaga

    I’m sure we have very capable meteorologist, however, in weather prediction proper equipment is necessary but this is like a reflection of reality–PAGASA can only predict a storm’s movement ‘one reading at a time’ (otherwise it will stall!). Well, bottom line is I think PAGASA doesn’t have updated equipment to properly predict weather movement, which becomes one of the pressing reasons to leave the agency, aside from the low salary that these brilliant scientist receive.

    The vague instruction might be telling another tale–they really don’t know what is happening despite having maps and information in front of them? they can only tell.
    Joe: Probably. Too bad and too sad! There is really little room for good scientists in our country. Kung gusto natin kumita ng malaki e wag tayo mag-scientist; mag-politiko na lang tayo para madami kickback! Parang ganun yata eh 🙂 … But I think, despite having budget difficulties, PAGASA can still make a lot of difference. Pagaralan lang mabuti ang sistema. Hindi na ba tayo matututo sa sangdamakmak na bagyo na dumadaan sa atin taon-taon? Sigh! Meron pa rin naman sigurong pagasa.

  3. 3 bursky Martes 24 Hunyo 2008 bandang 8:35 umaga

    on the website, it’s either of two things: 1)their servers couldn’t accommodate the traffic or 2)they were updating it. well, or of course, there’s that other reason (as always) that it was really down (on purpose or by accident, we don’t know).

    on forecasting, the way i know the PAGASA system, they only compile the forecasts made from other observatories and then ‘compute’ the direction. i don’t think they model typhoons like HKO or other observatories. lo-tech talaga mga nandyan…
    Joe: Thanks for dropping by! 🙂 Ganun ba talaga tayo ka-low tech? Pati pala forecasts kinokopya lang natin sa iba? Kawawa naman pala talaga tayo.

  4. 4 manny Martes 24 Hunyo 2008 bandang 11:11 umaga

    PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) weather forecasting is very unreliable. They either made it vague or too general for the ordinary layman to grasp the meaning of their forecast and to avoid getting blamed “palusot”. Filipino Voices dot com also have an article on Faulty Pronouncements of PAGASA.
    Joe: I will check Filipino Voices. Thanks!

  5. 5 aga Miyerkules 25 Hunyo 2008 bandang 4:37 umaga

    talagang walang kwenta!!!!
    asust 🙂

  6. 6 modernmariaclara Biyernes 27 Hunyo 2008 bandang 4:42 hapon

    pathetic, really. parang walang katapusang kapalpakan ang nangyayari sa gobyerno – and these shortcomings are all the more emphasized in the eyes of Filipinos who migrate or live in more developed countries – those countries with efficient and honest government.
    Joe: Oo nga e. Mamumulat ka pala talaga pag lumabas ka ng Pinas. E bakit kaya ang mga pinuno natin, panay ang junket sa abroad pero wala naman yata pinagkakamulatan?

  7. 7 Arnaldo Martes 1 Hulyo 2008 bandang 3:43 umaga

    PAGASA, its a cool name for a weather forecast bureau, but recently they haven’t been able to provide much hope, especially with their pretty inaccurate reporting. Its too costly.
    Joe: Oo nga e. All government agencies should shape up for that matter. They owe the Filipino taxpayer.

  8. 8 jin Miyerkules 15 Oktubre 2008 bandang 5:48 hapon

    hmmmm….maybe…der are some reasons kung bakit ganun yung system nila…en dat is because….CORRUPTION!!!!^_^
    Joe: Mukhang nadali mo Jin! 🙂 Salamat sa pagbisita.

  1. 1 Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Blog Archive » Junket of Doom Trackback nasa Lunes 23 Hunyo 2008 bandang 1:59 hapon

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