MANILA (Xinhua): The Philippine state weather bureau has joined forces with China's popular video app TikTok to raise the awareness of young Filipinos on weather and climate issues.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) officially inked a memorandum of understanding with the short-form video app TikTok this week, allowing it to spread "bits and pieces of science information" on the giant platform.
"TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms popular to the younger generation with short attention span," Bernard Punzalan, the officer in charge of PAGASA information unit, told Xinhua in a telephone interview.
He said TikTok can help raise young people's awareness on weather issues, such as typhoons and floods, and help them prepare for possible disasters.
"We plan to upload 30-second to three-minute educational videos on typhoon signals and its impact on the people on this platform," he added.
Punzalan said PAGASA hopes to attract more young Filipinos through its TikTok account, urging young TikTok users to upload videos on typhoons and floods.
The DOST-PAGASA TikTok account has nearly 100 followers since its launch on Monday. The bureau already has millions of followers on other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
"We want to reach out to a certain demographic, specifically the younger generation. A lot of them are on TikTok," Michael Bala, chief of the Training and Public Information Section under PAGASA's Research & Development and Training Division, at the launch of PAGASA TikTok on Monday.
Bala said PAGASA recognizes that TikTok "is an emerging social media platform," stressing the need to widen the bureau's reach and "improve engagement" with a broader audience.
"We need to ramp up our science communication efforts, and this is us understanding the needs of the stakeholders and the general public and understanding how they consume information," Bala added.
PAGASA Administrator Vicente Malano said the bureau wants to "innovate in the conduct of information education campaigns" since face-to-face interactions are limited during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Malano said the bureau will post infographics and video graphics on TikTok to boost its information campaign.
PAGASA posts daily weather forecasts, tropical cyclone bulletins, rainfall and flood warnings, and even dam dates.
Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is among the most disaster-prone countries in the world, including active volcanoes, frequent earthquakes, and an average of 20 typhoons a year causing floods and landslides.
Nearly three-fourths of the country's population is vulnerable to multiple natural hazards, and such disasters worsen poverty in typhoon-prone provinces along the country's eastern seaboard.
The Philippines lost 463 billion pesos (about US$9.6bil) in damages to natural disasters from 2010 to 2019, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.