Dingalan and Maps: Aurora’s Most Creative Disaster Stint Yet

Barangay Matawe, Barangay Ibona, Barangay Paltic in Dingalan, Aurora

Ralph Lumbres, Boyet Torres, Eric Sister, Tomas Leonor, Ness Lumbres, & Ryan Tipay

Ligtas Pad is a participatory 3D map of three barangays in Dingalan, Aurora created together by Prod.JX Artist Community and the residents of barangays Ibona, Matawe, and Paltic. It also showcases light projection to project data regarding flash floods, storm surges, and fault lines into the 3D map to emphasize vulnerable areas and point out safe zones for evacuation during disasters.

For the maps to be replicated in other barangays in Dingalan, Aurora

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During the times Ondoy and Yolanda, local governments were suddenly active until such a time when everything is back to normal – preparedness and response activities are again put aside, and disaster monitoring equipment start gathering dust.

Without the participation of the indigenous community in the design and development of the 3D map, no one would know of the existing water sources and land features that need to be accounted for in mainstreaming disaster preparedness and response practices.

Bordered by the Sierra Madre in the North West and engulfed by the Pacific Ocean in the South, Dingalan’s landscapes cannot be spared from numerous disasters in the past decades. The lives and livelihood of 25,000 people (2015) constantly face threats from the impact of climate change – including flash floods, landslides, storm surges, as well as tsunamis, disrupting their economic growth and denying them a better quality of life. In the face of such vulnerability, the need for participatory disaster risk management and improvement of spatial awareness through community-centred innovations is direr now than ever before.

PROD.JX- CREATIVES FOR DISASTER RESILIENCE

Inspired by their common interest in lending their talents and technical skills to promote participatory community development and improved disaster resilience for Dingalan, Prod.Jx Artist Community (Prod.Jx) – led by Ralph Lumbres, rose to action. As a collective of professionals and artists coming from multiple disciplines – social sciences, environmental sciences, design and the arts, Prod.Jx embarked on their journey of cascading a community-centred innovation designed to address observed gaps in disaster preparedness, as well as improve the synergy and cooperation of community members in Dingalan in times of emergency.

A RESILIENCE SPIRIT’S AWAKENING

When we entered the community and discussed issues related to mainstreaming disaster mitigation, we realized that the Philippines as a whole has always been reactionary towards disaster management. During the times Ondoy and Yolanda, local governments were suddenly active until such a time when everything is back to normal – preparedness and response activities are again put aside, and disaster monitoring equipment start gathering dust,” Tomas Leonor, one of Prod.jx’s artists, laughed.

In the past years, barangay residents in Dingalan simply had no platform for mainstreaming disaster-related information. Determined more than ever to address this lack of synergy and technical capacity impeding disaster resilience in Dingalan, the artist community introduced LIGTASPAD – a Light-Based Participatory 3D (P3D) Mapping Project.

While P3D Mapping is an existing methodology practiced by geographers, Prod.Jx employed a rather unique take to further innovate their product – integrating the community’s language for learning, leveraging on its team members’ technical capacities and life experiences.

DESIGN THINKING IN DINGALAN

Following the Observe – Ideate – Prototype – Test sequence from the Design Thinking Approach, the Prod.Jx ensured that community members will be co-creators and co-owners of the project. “We strived to measure how the community perceives space, as well as observe behaviours and attitudes towards spatial awareness,” Ralph explained.

With most of Prod.Jx members being artists, art practice and gamification was utilized as a fun and engaging approach in educating community members. It was also an efficient and effective way of facilitating discussions and conducting pre- and post-tests for progress monitoring.

“Our intention was to make learning experiential. The plan was to introduce concepts slowly through art activities,” Ralph explained.

Worth noting in the design thinking process used was the participation of children in sharpening the socioeconomic and cultural features of the maps. Tasked to share their ideas on how the maps should be designed, the children’s insights significantly reflected the youth’s relationship with their environment, as well as ways on how society can make it safe and ideal for growth.

LIGTASPAD: CURRENT SHAPE AND FORM

Strengthened by TUKLAS Innovation Labs, LIGTASPAD now takes the form of P3D maps representing Barangay Ibona, Matawe, and Paltic in Dingalan, Aurora. Having gone through extensive prototype iterations, three main features set the Dingalan maps apart from any other P3D map. Firstly, it is composed of a light projection source hovering a physical 3D map construction. Hazard map information is placed against a light source, enabling the set-up to project important topographic features and disaster information onto the 3D map. “This value addition was done to add flexibility with regard to the type of data one aims to project into the 3D map, as well as promote easy information uptake for the users. Further, it avoids the necessary overlapping of different topographic and demographic information available,” Ralph expounded.

Secondly, wood was used as an alternative material for the map construction. Usually, base materials used to form 3D maps are either rubber-based or EVA foams – materials that are not sustainable in terms of environmental impact and would not last the test of time. “Wood is a good for durability and is degradable at the same time,” Ralph clarified.

Thirdly, Prod.Jx integrated the element of gamification to the entire teaching, skills enhancement, and mainstreaming process towards building the community’s knowledge and capacity in responding to and preparing for disasters.

REKINDLED AFFINITY  FOR PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL SPACES

In the succeeding months, participants were encouraged to bring out their creativity during woodworking workshops and basic painting exercises “Without the participation of the indigenous community in the design and development of the 3D map, no one would know of the existing water sources and land features that need to be accounted for in mainstreaming disaster preparedness and response practices,” Tomas testified.

The community-centred activities also increased the participants’ social capital. “Some neighbours were able to speak to each other for the first time,” Greneza Daplas,an LGU Extension Worker, gushed. “Other residents would not know their neighbours’ names, nor the fact that they are there. This strangeness changed through LIGTASPAD,” she added.

WHERE WE ARE AT PRESENT

LIGTASPAD was able to produce three prototypes – one in each target barangay. In total, the team engaged approximately 250 community members, and around 20 barangay workers who worked with them alongside associate partners. In the aspect of knowledge sharing and disaster education, pre-test and post-test scores gathered through gamified learning activities showed a positive increase in uptake of disaster risk management concepts as well as capacity for undertaking preparedness activities.

Further, the residents also learned basic carpentry skills and usage of tools. Woodworking, basic colour fixing, as well as painting workshops were held in all of the barangays – capacitating mostly women and the youth. “I never thought woodworking would be that easy. I am sure that I knew nothing of basic carpentry until that workshop. I guess I can set up my own furniture shop,” Greneza clowned.

LIGTASPAD AND BEYOND

While the innovation team eyes a more institutional track for maximizing the project’s impact, they advocate to mainstream P3D mapping in every municipality in the Philippines. Further, the innovation team is also thinking of other ways where the 3D maps can be utilized for other purposes beyond disaster risk management – such as livelihood monitoring, community capacity mapping, as well as natural resource management. Leveraging on the project’s success in Dingalan, Prod.Jx believes that it can inspire the practice of constructing context-relevant hazard maps in other municipalities, and applying them towards participatory disaster management on the ground.