Young Filipina geologist takes cue from Japan's volcano forecasting


A young Filipina geologist from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PHIVOLCS) was the latest postgraduate student who earned a master's degree in earth science from Japan's Tohoku University under the supporting program of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Marie Thess Quilalang-Gemal completed her research on the rock formations in South Cotabato's Parker Volcano to investigate its origin and magmatic processes. Her studies in Japan form part of the long-term trainings that JICA offers to young Filipino professionals in development fields such as disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM).

"My studies in Japan was an opportunity for me to enhance my capacity as a geologist, increase knowledge and develop skills in volcanic hazards and risks assessment. Since Japan and the Philippines share similar geographic and tectonic setting, Japan's approach in DRRM can be applied in the Philippines," said Quilalang-Gemal.

She added that Japan's analytical techniques in rocks' chemical composition are useful and vital in generating data in order to construct a petrogenetic model on the magmatic evolution of a volcano. This determines the origin and processes involved in the formation of rocks that shaped Parker Volcano, in South Cotabato province, Mindanao.

Parker Volcano is one of the active volcanoes being monitored by DOST-PHIVOLCS. It shares similar characteristics with Mount Pinatubo Volcano in Zambales province, in terms of its composition and the explosive nature of its eruptions and volcanic deposits. This means that it poses a serious potential hazard and long-term threat of an explosive eruption. DOST-PHIVOLCS also stressed that the impact of volcanic eruptions can be mitigated with proper land-use and disaster planning and preparedness.

JICA recognizes the need for frontline agencies like DOST-PHIVOLCS in strengthening their capacity to promote disaster resilience among stakeholders. The capacity strengthening program for Filipino geologists in Japan is an ideal option to upgrade the Philippines' analysis of the dynamic of volcanic eruptions and mitigating their impacts to Philippine communities. The said program was also part of JICA's support to realizing the targets under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, encouraging stakeholder collaboration and partnership to reduce disaster risks and enhance resilience.

"Investing in capacity development activities is crucial to improve the Philippines' disaster resiliency. We will continue to share Japan's expertise with different stakeholders in the Philippines like national and local governments, communities, academe, and private sector to save lives and livelihood," said JICA Chief Representative SAKAMOTO Takema.

The said JICA's program, Quilalang-Gemal added, was an eye-opener on how countries can learn from one another's culture, history, development, and experience on disaster management. It is also expected that Quilalang-Gemal will serve as a robust bridge between two nations in terms of further friendship, based on the concept of "mutual understanding and mutual respect".


Ms. Quilalang-Gemal while conducting a sample rock preparation in one of Tohoku University's earth science laboratory


Ms. Quilalang-Gemal during her graduation in Tohoku University, Japan

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