It was February, still months away from the rainy-season downpurs that can blanket Metro Manila with deadly floods, but in Barangay Tumana, Marikina City, the townfolk were busy evacuating their riverside homes as if their lives depended on it.
Carrying some clothes, beddings and important documents, about 350 people - including men, women and children - left their homes in an orderly fashion, boarded trucks and moved to the H. Bautista Elementary School in nearby Barangay Concepcion which had been identified as a safe haven in times of floods.
While there, the "evacuees" were brought to pre-assigned rooms and attended to by various barangay committees. For example, nursing mothers and pregnant women were brought to "lactating rooms" while the others were served piping-hot "lugaw".
All this was just a drill, but barangay officials and the residents took it seriously.
"People here remember Ondoy. They had a terrible time then and they want to be better prepared the next time around," said Hilda Tabar-Cleofe, executive director of the Corporate Network for Disaster Response (CNDR), which is helping the flood-prone barangays ofmarikina prepare for future calamities under a program appropriately named "Noah's Ark".
"We are focusing on community preparedness, particulary for those areas that are frequently hit by calamities like floods," said Mon Isberto, public affairs head of Smart Communications which funded the drill.
"The idea is to develop a model that can be replicated in other communities with local governments and private companies working together,"added Isberto, who is also president of CNDR.
This model for community preparedness has already been tested in real emergencies.
read more: Building "Noah's Ark"