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By Gary Covington

Looking In

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Q: Could this be the name of a popular 70s Latin dance song – you know, the one which went Agadoo, Agaton, etc, etc.?

A: Might be. It's the name bestowed by Pagasa (The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) upon a swirl of rainy clouds - a tropical depression - making their leisurely westward way across the Philippine islands as they've done every rainy season since time began and mostly without the benefit of fancy names. Agaton is the first of 2014 - hence the A for Agaton - and, we're reliably informed, this year's theme is indeed Latin dances. Bossaroo comes next followed by ChaCha and so on.

What has intrigued me about all these dire TV weather items is the absence of mention, nary a squeak, about those terrible twins El Nino and La Nina, that cyclical warming and cooling of the great Pacific sea which - in La Nina's case - brings extra rainfall to our shores and an increase in the number of tropical cyclones. (Technical stuff; the typhoon hub, new term, copyright Covington, shifts westwards which means we get the nastiness rather than Japan). I suppose this absence of Nina and Nino news is because they've ceased to be sexy - killer storm surges and super typhoons making for so much more exciting TV segment intros; crashing surf, frantic palms and bashed-up bridges. Altogether more satifying than boring old statistics about subsurface warming and temperature oscillation.


Seriously though, ABS-CBN and GMA have to do something about their weather forecast segments which, let's be honest, are on a par with Amateur Night at Almendra. You have the technology - look at that damn great flat-screen TV - but where's the presentation? The Philippine islands outlined in an insipid purple set against a bright blue sea. Hardly visible and not visible at all with the addition of cloud or rainfall patterns. For heaven's sake, someone put on a false beard and mustache and sneak over to Solar News to see how the weather forecast should be done - the best on the box at the moment. For a start the area map is wall-sized, the Philippine islands bright and clear even when overlain by cloud patterns or a clever computer animated rainfall forecast. Up in the top left-hand corner is the day and a. m. or p. m. What could be clearer. Also the presenters tell us about the weather and that's all without resort to sartorial gimmicks or suddenly and unnecessarily branching off about retreating glaciers or the wonders of photosysnthesis. ABS-CBN, GMA, sort yourselves out.

Other news - yes, there was some other news which caught my attention - on Saturday, we learnt that the military in Mindanao was 'urging DENR (the Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to finish getting the data on the remaining patches of forest. . . so they can enforce the protection of these areas and end illegal logging'.

Tell you what - someone explain to the military that forests are made up of trees, those tall things with green stuff at the top. OR, take out their earbuds and listen for the sound of chain saws. OR, take a look at the news TV footage of lumber brought down by floods, much of which appears to be sawn and dressed rather than naturally uprooted or fallen trees. Use your common boys.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 21, 2014.


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