DRRM Advocates and Enthusiasts Ascend Above Intersectoral Boundaries with Code Yellow: Ascent

By Sean Sy (Class 2023)

Photos courtesy of the Medical Students’ Society (MSS)

Last March 9 and 16, 2019, the UP Medical Students’ Society (UP MSS) held Code Yellow, an intersectoral collaborative disaster risk reduction and management case competition, at Calderon Hall.

Now on its second year, the event was dubbed with the theme, “Code Yellow: Ascent”. Just like its predecessor, it brought together undergraduate and graduate school students from various colleges, universities, and fields of study to develop hazard and disaster plans for Igbaras, Iloilo.


The first day of the event featured five talks about the effects of disasters and the key elements of a disaster management plan, delivered by seasoned professionals who have worked in the disaster risk reduction and management (DRMM) industry.

After the invocation was said and the national anthem was sung, the crowd of participants, speakers, and observers were given a warm welcome by this year’s hosts, Bea Baron (Class 2023) and Pael Jocson (Class 2023). The two then called upon the event head, Patricia Arevalo (Class 2023) for the opening remarks.

Afterwards, the first speaker, Ms. Rominna B. Marasigan, current chief of Information & Advocacy Section of the Capacity Building and Training Service of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), went onstage to speak about building resilient Filipino communities. In her talk, she gave the audience an introduction to DRRM, discussed the impact of disasters on our local communities, and highlighted the importance of DRRM and disaster preparedness in the Philippines.

Ms. Rominna B. Marasigan delivering her talk on building resilient Filipino communities

She was followed by Mr. Anthony Zuniga, Learning & Development Manager of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) capacity building arm, PrepLab (Preparedness Laboratory). He gave a talk entitled “Business As Usual: The Role of Businesses in Building Disaster-Resilient Communities”, emphasizing the importance of empowering the small-medium local businesses and how much these low-key institutions can help out and carry a community through the recovery process after a major disaster.

Mr. Anthony Zuniga smiles as he delivers his talk entitled “Business As Usual: The Role of Businesses in Building Disaster-Resilient Communities”

Third to take on the spotlight was Ms. Eunica Dee, a behavioral scientist hailing from the University of Santo Tomas. She is the co-founder and IO Head of InPsyWel Psychological Center, as well as program coordinator of Balik Kalipay Center for Psychosocial Response, Inc., an organization that provides psychosocial services to the people of disaster-stricken areas. Her talk revolved around how mental health and psychosocial support services are a necessity in allowing a community to recover post-disaster.

Ms. Eunica Dee during her discussion on mental health and psychosocial support services as a post-disaster intervention

Coming in after Ms. Dee was Mr. Beith Pacheco, PhD, a professor at the Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines Diliman, who specializes in disaster risk management. He delivered an endearing lecture entitled “Reframing Disaster Prevention Into DRRM & Intersectoral Collaboration Into Transdisciplinary Action”, inviting the audience to realize that there are multiple variables that can be manipulated to effectively mitigate the risks posed by disasters.

Mr. Beith Pacheco, PhD, as he introduces the story of the monkey and a rock to illustrate the variables that can be manipulated in managing disaster risk

Last but not least, Ms. Patricia Anne Delmendo, a geologist who has been working with flood modelling since the year 2014, gave a speech about flood modelling and understanding where and how flood can affect the communities.

Ms. Patricia Anne Delmendo, as she opens her lecture on flood modelling.

When all speakers finished, they were invited back on stage for a short open forum.

The speakers answering the audience’s’ questions regarding DRRM
(Left to right: Mr. Anthony Zuniga, Ms. Patricia Delmendo, Mr. Beith Pacheco, PhD)

Afterwards, the hosts thanked the speakers, and the participants were grouped into their respective teams for the competition proper, marking the end of day 1.


While the first day of Code Yellow: Ascent was about learning from the masters of DRRM, day two was all about the participants.

Opening with the invocation and national anthem, the session began with the hosts welcoming everyone back to the competition. After MSS President Pia Arevalo delivered her opening remarks, Code Yellow head Patricia Arevalo explained the competition and scoring mechanics.

MSS President Pia Arevalo delivering the opening remarks for the second day of Code Yellow: Ascent

Competition judges Dr. Christian “Chan” Bondoc, the municipal health officer of Igbaras, Ilo-ilo; Mr. Luisito Gepuela, a DRRM expert who played a role in recovery efforts after 2014’s Typhoon Ruby; and Engineer Wilfredo, the community’s municipal tourism officer, were then introduced.

From left to right: Code Yellow Head, Patricia Arevalo (Class 2023), Dr. Chan Bondoc, Mr. Luisito Gepula, Engineer Wilfredo, and MSS President, Pia Arevalo (Class 2021)

Dr. Bondoc gave an overview of the case and presented the community life scenario of Igbaras. A brief open forum followed, allowing the participants and general audience to hash out their questions and clarifications.

Dr. Bondoc enlightening the audience regarding the situation in his community.

The competition proper formally began with the teams presenting their management strategies one by one, while the judges analyzed these plans. Every presentation included a rundown of the case, an identification of major hazards, proposed plans of action and budgets, and finally a five-minute question-and-answer segment.

Participants Diego Mina (Class 2021) (left) and Rafael Dela Rosa (right) present their management plan

The blue team’s representatives, Gabe Ramolete (left) and Harold de Guzman (Class 2023) (right) during their presentation

Denver Rancap, Alfonso Dolina and Luis Jose Fernando from the red team open their presentation

The judges ask the participants questions regarding their plans.

This was followed by Mr. Luisito Gepuela coming onto the stage to react to the participants’ presentations and to present his very own proposed plan for Igbaras.

Mr. Gepula sharing his reactions to the participants’ management plans

Dr. Bondoc was then called onto the stage to deliver the closing remarks.

Certificates were given to all of the judges and participants to thank them for their contributions to the event, and then the champions were granted their crowns,  marking the end of the event.

The winning team was composed of Luis Jose Fernando, a BS Environmental Science student from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), Denver Angelo Rancap, a Nursing student from the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), and Alfonso Dolina, a computer-scientist-to-be from ADMU. Their team presented a comprehensive plan that showed delegations for the different hazards that plague Igbaras, looked to solve problems through multiple angles, and showed a live demonstration of the interface of phone application they developed for faster sharing of information.

From left to right:  Dr. Chan Bondoc, Mr. Luisito Gepula, Engineer Wilfredo, the Code Yellow: Ascent winning team composed of Denver Rancap, Luis Jose Fernando, and Alfonso Dolina, Code Yellow Head, Patricia Arevalo (Class 2023), and MSS President, Pia Arevalo (Class 2021)

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