MANILA, Philippines – “Disaster risk reduction cuts across different aspects and sectors of development, and action is urgent. Clearly, we all want to be part of creating solutions,” said Hans Sy, SM Prime Holdings President and National Resilience Council (NRC) Executive Committee Co-Chair for the Private Sector, as he addressed the crowd.

“Everyone, your attendance today shows your commitment to disaster risk reduction (DRR).”

On November 12, ARISE Philippines held its 8th Top Leaders Forum at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay. Carrying the theme "From Risk to Resilience: Forging Pathways and Milestones,” the conference gathered senior government officials, top-level executives from the private sector, local chief executives, and even students from across the Philippines to discuss the country’s status on disaster risk reduction, preparedness, resiliency, and sustainability.

Stories, disasters, and partnerships

To begin the sessions of the day, industry leaders took center stage to share special messages. One of them was the 4th District of Leyte Chairperson and House Committee Chairperson of Disaster Management Lucy Torres-Gomez.

“Disasters have a way of connecting people, even perfect strangers ‘Where were you during Ondoy,’ ‘Where were you when Yolanda hit?’” the representative opened.

“All of us have our own personal stories to tell, but I do have one hope: that these stories we tell today remain in the past. Because there will be no more tragedies to recount – typhoons yes, but traumatic memories no more. I hope these stories will teach the future not just to survive but to thrive.”

Rep. Torres-Gomez posited that the best way to overcome these problems is to arm cities with 1) resilience, the ability to bounce back from disasters; and 2) adaptation, developing infrastructures that protect and deflect the effects of disasters on both people and disasters.

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