By: Mark Anthony M. Matera
Malaybalay, Bukidnon – The “Simulating Cascading Rainfall-induced Landslide Hazards in the Philippines (SCaRP)” Project finally made touch down in Mindanao on February 3, 2020 to further extend its landslide research scope to the south of the archipelago. Representing the Mindanao Region, the striking City of Malaybalay, Bukidnon was selected as one of the pilot study areas of the project. That day, Engr. Fibor J. Tan, Project Leader; Mr. Mark Anthony M. Matera and Ms. Sarah Alma P. Bentir, University Researchers II; and Engr. Paolo A. Antazo and Ms. Rose Ann F. Amado, Research Associates II, made a courtesy visit and project presentation to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region X (MGB-X) Office in Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental shortly after arrival. Ms. Rowena Gabua, DOST-PCIEERD Science Research Specialist, along with Engr. Cris Edward Monjardin, Project Consultant, accompanied the team. In attendance from MGB were Regional Director Mr. Efren B. Carido and Geosciences Division Chief Mr. Osin A. Sinsuat Jr. who later raised technical inquiries during the meeting. Data sets supplementary to the research were provided by MGB-X who expressed excitement and support for the project in the region.

The team was warmly received when they visited the Malaybalay City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) on the following day, February 4, for the same courtesy call and project presentation. Engr. Tan enthusiastically discussed the details of the project to Administrator and Training Officer Ms. Manelyn S. Ybiernas and along with the attending office staff. Mr. Kenneth Amiel M. Taylor, CDRRMO Head, later attended to the team, discussed project details, and offered their full cooperation throughout the entire project duration.

The team was graced with the presence of Malaybalay Vice Mayor Hon. Jay Warren R. Pabillaran and City Administrator Mr. Allan Ronolo during the courtesy call on February 5, 2020. A draft copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Malaybalay Local Government Unit (LGU) and Mapua University was presented for the former’s perusal. With this, the partnership between Malaybalay LGU and Mapua will be formally established, the latter providing the former with relevant and timely landslide research outputs beneficial to the locals of Malaybalay.

A series of fieldwork activities were conducted during the week-long stay in Malaybalay. Accompanied by the CDRRMO, landslide sites and bridge reconnaissance and mapping at Barangay San Jose were conducted in the afternoon, February 4th. Landslide sites were surveyed and soil samples were collected at a remote but picturesque village at Barangay Manalog on February 5th. Landslide sites were also surveyed and river cross section and flow measurements were determined at a pre-selected bridge outlet at Barangay Busdi on February 6th. Finally, another river cross section and flow measurements were accomplished at Mabuhay Bridge, Barangay San Jose on February 7th. The SCaRP Team will continue visiting the City of Malaybalay in 2020 to conduct additional fieldwork activities.

The selection of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon as one of the pilot study areas is a crucial and significant take by the SCaRP Project. This way, representations from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao as study areas were made. The project hopes to provide the LGU beneficiaries with early warning means to predict rainfall-induced landslides for disaster preparedness. If proven successful, the project hopefully gets elevated to a nationwide scale level.

The project entitled, “Simulating Cascading Rainfall-induced Landslide Hazards in the Philippines (SCaRP)” is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCIEERD) and UK NERC through Newton Agham. Engr. Fibor J. Tan is an Associate Professor of Mapua University in Manila, Philippines and a candidate in PhD in Civil Engineering major in Water Resources Engineering. Dr. Georgina Bennett obtained her PhD at ETH Zurich in 2013 and was a lecturer in the Physical Geography of Natural Hazards at the University of East Anglia (UEA) with expertise in hazards and earth-surface dynamics of steep mountain catchments; she currently teaches at the University of Exeter (UOE).

The project aims to understand relationship between landslide events, meteorological drivers, and preconditioning landslide factors in the country in order to predict landslides and relate them to sediment delivery rates to nearby river systems.

The members of the project are competent engineers and scientists from United Kingdom (UEA/UOE Team) and the Philippines (Mapua Team) who will be working on pilot study areas such as Ilocos Norte, Benguet, Isabela, Quezon, Biliran, Bohol, and Bukidnon on its three-year duration, 2019 – 2022. The Mapua team is based at Yuchengco Innovation Center.