Life and Fieldwork in Legazpi City

Hello from Legazpi City!

I will be living in this provincial capital through the first week of August with the Philippine Commission on Audit to assist in the citizen audit of 2015 Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management funds in the province of Albay.  The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act mandates that, as the Philippines is highly susceptible to natural disasters, 5% of municipal funds be allocated towards disaster prevention and mitigation, response, and relief.  This audit seeks to investigate whether these funds are used as planned and in the best interest of beneficiaries.  There is no better way to gauge to capture public opinion than talking to the beneficiaries themselves – so starting Thursday, the audit team will be split into groups to go into different barangays (the smallest level of administrative unit here) to administer surveys about how relief materials (i.e. bags of rice) were distributed. The week after the next, we will be inspecting and geotagging the evacuation centers in the province.

My role is to transform this data into map visualizations that can help assist auditors in formulating audit results as well as make audit results more accessible to the public. I hope to visualize the distribution of beneficiaries, evacuation centers, and relief materials across the province. I’ve started out by creating a sort of a sample map that I will be presenting to the audit team to illustrate the value that geospatial data can add to the audit process.

Using information distributed to us during our audit planning conference last week. I compiled and aggregated some data on 2015 total relief distribution materials by municipality and produced the map below. QGIS (the GIS software I use to manage spatial data and produce maps) has been displacing the labels when I export the map as an image – an issue I am still trying to sort out. Thus the the formatting here is not great.

Relief Goods Albay

This map is zoomed in on the province of Albay, on the southeastern tip of the Philippine island Luzon. Using this, auditors can easily visualize where relief goods have been over- or under-distributed, thus prompting a discussion on the use of LDRRM funds as relevant to the audit. In the map, note that the darker greens represent municipalities that received more relief goods and lighter greens represent municipalities that received less. I made the border of Albay bold as well in order to emphasize that it is the province of interest. The municipalities colored light beige were not indicated in the available data. Note that a better representation of this data would be dividing the number of relief goods by the population of the municipality, or by number of households (with the final statistic being number of bags of rice received per head or household).

As for me – I am enjoying life here in Albay! I spent my weekend touring the province’s country roads on the back of a motorcycle, feasting on local Bicolian cuisine (lots of shrimp, buko, and sili- the hot pepper native to the region), and running along the beautiful Legazpi City waterfront. The pace of life here is more quiet and slow than in Manila and all of its cacophony. I only have two more full weeks in the Philippines – hard to believe how fast this summer has gone by!


Until next time,




  1. kmholmes01 says:

    Hi Caroline! This looks like a really meaningful project. That map looks great! Without any prior knowledge of the situation, I’d be curious to see a map that also includes damages from natural disasters and socioeconomic status of those same parcels. Good luck with the rest of your work!

  2. tazevanove says:

    Cleo and I recently went on a trip similar to this one – this is a great visualization! I think that the idea of showing distribution in terms by population by household could also be a quick way to show gaps and opportunities. That being said, I know we have struggled to obtain solid population data, so this analyzation could prove to be easier said than done!