Listening to the voice of the elderly will keep us safe!

Success Initiatives, Inc.



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About

Imagine the world before when there were no TV, internet and telephones to warn us of impending calamities. The lives of our ancestors were then closely intertwined with their natural environment to be prepared for such occurrences. The changes of season dictated their livelihood activities. They become observant and sensitive to the movements of the natural environment around them. Our ancestors become good in interpreting the signs of nature, especially from an impending disaster.

Natural calamities like tsunamis, storm surges, flood and earthquakes in recent times have caused the loss of thousands of lives because people were not adequately forewarned enough. It is time to include indigenous knowledge (IK) in our warning system.

Capturing this indigenous knowledge before it is lost to oblivion has been the task undertaken by Success Initiatives. The elderly or senior citizens became the resource persons of this IK as they can still recall what their forefathers before them have shared about natural signs to watch out. This IK is a body of knowledge handed down from generation to generation has helped communities adapt and respond to the movement of nature.

The elderly or senior citizens became not only the resource persons of this IK, they are also the creative writers and artists by which these IK came out into popular forms. Success Initiatives gathered and packaged this knowledge in popular forms such as songs, games and rhymes that are easy to learn or remember by and be shared to the younger generations. There are also lullabies that mothers can sing to their children.

There is really truth in saying that the young have strength but the older generation have wisdom. With these, especially wisdom on what to do and when will surely keep today and future communities safe from hazards. We just have to listen to them. Thus this initiative of documenting and packaging the knowledge and wisdom of the older generations in creative ways and forms with them as the source, the creative team and the artists themselves.

The wisdom of the elders will keep us safe from natural hazards. Listen to our voice as we share to you the knowledge of the natural environment imparted to us by our forefathers. We wrote them into songs, games, and rhymes that you may learn them by heart and in the face of impending natural disasters, they will keep our families and communities safe

- Listening to the voice of the elderly will keep us safe!

Project description

What issue are you trying to solve?
In the Philippines, individuals reaching the age of 60 years old are considered a member of the elderly sector or senior citizens. Mandatory retirement, if one is employed, is enforced upon the age of 65 even if one is still fit to work. The senior citizens’ sector is growing in number every year as people tend to become health and lifestyle conscious due to many factors. Thus, one can observe increasing numbers of elderly in barangay associations and those accessing the privileges for the elderly.

The elderly have been privileged to inherit a body of information or knowledge about the natural environment from their parents or from generations before them. From the elderly, we can learn the signs of natural calamities by listening to the birds, observing movements of insects, the formation of clouds, the stars, the sun, and the moon and others. This indigenous knowledge shared to them by their parents has been proven with truth as they have observed and experienced as time went by. Today’s generations with all the accessible and available information from the internet and modern technology will take the wisdom of the old as tales or folklore when in fact they are time-tested knowledge from generations before us.  It is time to listen to the wisdom of the years.

Typhoons and other natural calamities are now more frequent and destructive. We ought to better prepare our communities for them. And one effective way is to inculcate in the hearts and minds of the people this knowledge of the natural environment so that they will be keen observant. In so doing, we could develop a generation of sensitive and nature-loving individuals who will help protect our environment. 

The presence of rain gauges, water level sensors and sirens as early warning devices are vital installation to inform communities of flooding. But sometimes, when we desperately needed them the most, they became unavailable, due to bad weather or cutting-off of electrical connections. Thus, indigenous knowledge would be an alternative to better prepare families and communities to be prepared and safe before natural disaster strikes.

Through the indigenous knowledge of the older generations, documented and packaged in popular forms such as songs, rhymes and games, children, parents and everyone will know what to do when there is a threat of a tsunami and other disasters because they are already aware of them. If and when the messages of our creative outputs are internalized and embedded in the consciousness of the Filipino people and people from all over the world, if possible, then preparedness for natural disasters will become a way of life and therefore will keep us safer.

 

What is your approach to change this undesired situation?
The innovation envisioned for a disaster prepared community. With a country like ours, the Philippines, disasters are experiences who do not want to happen again. Iligan City, where Success Initiatives is based had an experience with Tropical Storm Sendong where almost half of the city’s 44 barangays were affected. Lives were lost, vital infrastructures like roads and bridges were destroyed. Houses, school buildings, government offices, and establishments were also damaged.  Before TS Sendong our city was known as typhoon-free. Only after Sendong that stories came out that there was a massive flood in the early 1900s that had also wreak the place. Stories also were shared by the survivors coming from the affected communities/barangays that they have observed insects coming out before the typhoon came. A shared realization is that a week before Sendong, a lunar eclipse was totally observed in the barangays badly hit. Other stories of halo around the sun and moon were observed had been shared only during debriefing sessions afterward. There was this realization that had we been observant and sensitive enough to the signs and movement of the natural environment, communities could have evacuated earlier when two(2) days of excessive rainfall was already experienced.

In this innovation, Success Initiatives composed of mostly retirees who have already a lot of experience engaging with communities will both be the implementer and the resource persons of the project. Primarily, the senior citizens association in every barangay especially those with a high risk of flooding will be the key informants of the indigenous knowledge. From them, they will compose songs or write rhymes to express this IK. They will be assisted by artists. Some elderly are also talented enough for them to be the artists or performers of their creative outputs themselves. The creative outputs will be shared massively and widely so that in Iligan City; children will be playing our games of awareness, mothers will be singing lullabies containing messages of warnings and everybody else will be singing our songs with messages of preparedness. This approach is innovative as it seeks to achieve a change in the mindset and create a consciousness of disaster preparedness and of being attuned with the movements of nature. Thus, creating a  generation of environmentally sensitive and resilient individuals, in the long run. This approach is also replicable to other communities, anywhere in the world as well.

In summary, the specific issues that are addressed in this innovation are these two:

  1. Disasters becoming more frequent and destructive as climate change is already a reality and environmental degradation is prevalent in most societies, especially in a country like the Philippines, that is considered one of the most vulnerable places on earth to natural hazards due to its location along the ring of fire and beside the Pacific Ocean.
  2. The elderly and senior citizens are no longer consulted and listened to as they are regarded as a dependent sector who needed more assistance and help rather than as a source of knowledge and wisdom.  With these, the following outputs/impact are hoped to be achieved:
  • Communities will become safer as safety and being observant will become their way of life like songs, games, poetry, and rhymes containing indigenous knowledge with messages of warning will be embedded in their consciousness
  • Recognition of the contribution and influence of the elderly or the senior citizens in our society will be put into the forefront. They are, after all, productive and active contributors in making our society safe and resilient

 

What is the potential impact of your initiative?
The innovation envisioned for a disaster prepared community. With a country like ours, the Philippines, disasters are experiences who do not want to happen again. Iligan City, where Success Initiatives is based had an experience with Tropical Storm Sendong where almost half of the city’s 44 barangays were affected. Lives were lost, vital infrastructures like roads and bridges were destroyed. Houses, school buildings, government offices, and establishments were also damaged.  Before TS Sendong our city was known as typhoon-free. Only after Sendong that stories came out that there was a massive flood in the early 1900s that had also wreak the place. Stories also were shared by the survivors coming from the affected communities/barangays that they have observed insects coming out before the typhoon came. A shared realization is that a week before Sendong, a lunar eclipse was totally observed in the barangays badly hit. Other stories of halo around the sun and moon were observed had been shared only during debriefing sessions afterwards. There was this realization that had we been observant and sensitive enough to the signs and movement of the natural environment, communities could have evacuated earlier when two days of excessive rainfall was already experienced.

In this innovation, Success Initiatives composed of mostly retirees who have already a lot of experience engaging with communities will both be the implementer and the resource persons of the project. Primarily, the senior citizens association in every barangay especially those with a high risk of flooding will be the key informants of the indigenous knowledge. From them, they will compose songs or write rhymes to express this IK. They will be assisted by artists. Some elderly are also talented enough for them to be the artists or performers of their creative outputs themselves. The creative outputs will be shared massively and widely so that in Iligan City; children will be playing our games of awareness, mothers will be singing lullabies containing messages of warnings and everybody else will be singing our songs with messages of preparedness. This approach is innovative as it seeks to achieve a change in the mindset and create a consciousness of disaster preparedness and of being attuned with the movements of nature. Thus, creating a  generation of environmentally sensitive and resilient individuals, in the long run. This approach is also replicable to other communities, anywhere in the world as well.

Specifically, This approach is innovative for the following reasons:

  1. The elderly will be a sector that is actively contributing to shaping a disaster prepared society and resilient individuals. They will be acknowledged as productive individuals and thereby also restoring their self-worth and boosting their confidence as the source of life-saving wisdom in the community.
  2. It maximizes creative and popular forms in reaching out a greater audience and population.
  3. The popular forms are songs, games, nursery rhymes which are easily learned and shared.
  4. The popular forms contained indigenous knowledge on an early warning from natural hazards shared by the elderly or senior citizens.

 

Team members

Anita Sescon

Cesar Yamuta

Organisation

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