Barely one year after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) devastated the Philippines, another Super Typhoon – named Hagupit but known in the Philippines as Ruby – was headed down the same path.

The storm did slow down and was categorized as a category 3 typhoon, but it retained the power to be extremely destructive. Fortunately, Filipinos, the government, and disaster relief NGOs (non-profits) learned a lot from last year. Over a million Filipinos left their homes and sought safety in evacuation centers. The destruction was still devastating – Philippines’ government estimated over $23 million USD in agricultural damage alone – but compared to Haiyan’s death toll of over 7300, the Philippine Red Cross’s confirmed death toll for Hagupit is 22.

International NGO Mercy Corps was on the ground in the Visayas region of the Philippines to help in recovery after Typhoon Haiyan. Mercy Corps and its partners had implemented a cash transfer and financial literacy program for typhoon survivors on Leyte and in Northern Cebu. Mercy Corps used engageSPARK for the financial literacy component of the program, sending more than 725,000 SMS and Voice messages and surveys to teach key concepts about finances and saving.

Image of Western Leyte recipients by Ravi Agarwal

Image of Western Leyte recipients by Ravi Agarwal

With this great network of contacts, Mercy Corps took the opportunity to team up again with engageSPARK to send a series of messages on behalf of the humanitarian community about disaster awareness and preparedness to those in danger. As engageSPARK calls the Philippines our home, we felt fortunate to assist Mercy Corps in aiding our brothers and sisters in need.

Here are the 4 messages that were sent (the messages were sent both in English and the local dialect).

  1. Be prepared! Get as far away as possible from the coast. Prepare clothing, food, water good for 3 days, flashlight, medicine. Place pertinent documents in a plastic bag.
  2. Monitor announcements and warnings by PAGASA. Coordinate with barangay officials for evacuation procedures and information. Don’t listen to rumors.
  3. If you are living in low-lying areas or near the coast or riverbank, relocate to the nearest locally identified evacuation centers that are on higher ground and wait for more information from your local officials.
  4. Emergency Hotline # para tawagan sa preparasyon ng Typhoon Ruby
  • Command Center Bogo 2550046 PIO Medellin 4369555 PIO Daanbantayan 4378670
  • Red Cross Ormoc 53-2552911 Ormoc Police Station 53-2557823 World Vision 09986427453
  • Save the Children 9063463761 Radyo Abante 9155845080 LEYECO 9173044316

The beneficiaries of Mercy Corps’ messages felt so appreciative of the support. Here are some of their responses, captured either on engageSPARK platform via text response or in person.

  1. mam sir daghang salamat.gud pm s paalala – Ma’am/Sir Thank you so much for your reminders
  2. Salamat po sa paalala nyo sa amin. Amin pong gagawin. – Thanks so much for the reminders. We will do it [what was suggested in preparing for the storm]
  3. Thanks to your messages we did not feel abandoned during this Typhoon.

We want to thank our communications partner, Nexmo, who graciously donated 175,000 messages to offset the cost of this campaign!