Author Topic: Why not “soil” or “land” for “area of responsibility”?  (Read 13039 times)

Joe Carillo

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Question from Mr. Leoncio Contreras, someone of Filipino descent who presumably now lives overseas:

Let me ask you something.
 
I get so annoyed when I hear from TV anchors and read in the print media the statement “The typhoon has entered the Philippine area of responsibility.”
 
I believe it’s the obligation [of PAGASA] to paraphrase “area of responsibility.” I think the more appropriate way to word that sentence is, “The typhoon has entered Philippine soil.”

Please advise.

Dear Mr. Contreras:

After looking into the origins and semantics of the term “area of responsibility,” I think we are well-advised not to tinker with it. Offhand, I’ll already say that I could find neither a suitable paraphrase nor even a synonym that comes close to what it means.

In general terms, the Area Of Responsibility (AOR) defines an area with specific geographic boundaries for which a person or organization bears a certain responsibility. The term originated from the United States military but is now used in oceanography and weather forecasting as well.

For the Philippines, in particular, its area of responsibility isn’t meant to define its internationally recognized territory, and it isn’t a measure either of its land mass or what you refer to as “Philippine soil.” This is because as all of us know, the Philippines is an archipelago of 7,100 islands, each irregularly jutting out from sea, and the nation’s share of territory on the globe actually extends way beyond the shorelines of these islands. Indeed, although the Philippines has a total land area of 300,000 sq. km (115,830 sq. miles), the so-called “Philippine area of responsibility” covers something like 9-11 multiples of that area in terms of sea and land combined.

For those who know at least a smattering of spherical geometry, the Philippine Area of Responsibility or PAR is that part of the world map “bounded by rhumb lines on the Philippine Tropical Cyclone Tracking Chart/Map or imaginary lines on the surface of the earth that makes equal oblique angles with all meridians joining the following points: 25°N 120°E, 25°N 135°E, 5°N 135°E, 5°N 115°E, 15°N 115°E, 21°N 120°E and back to the beginning.” The initials N and E refer to the compass directions “north” and “east,” the superscript “o” after the numbers stands for “degrees of the Earth’s arc,” and the term “rhumb lines” means “any of the points of the mariner’s compass.” All this may sound like science mumbo-jumbo, of course, so it’s much better to just visually check out this area by logging on to PAGASA’s website

Here's PAGASa's map of the Philippine area of responsibility:



Anyway, within the Philippine area of responsibility, the PAGASA is mandated to monitor tropical cyclone activity and to make the necessary warnings. It has to issue bulletins every six hours for all tropical cyclones within this area that have made or are anticipated to make landfall within the Philippines, or every 12 hours when cyclones are not affecting land.

So don’t get annoyed anymore when PAGASA repeatedly uses the term “Philippine area of responsibility.” Those hardy weather forecasters of ours aren’t really having big airs when they use that term. They don’t really have much choice—or would you rather they pounce on you with “AOR, AOR” or “PAR, PAR” ad infinitum whenever a typhoon’s coming?

Postscript to Forum members:

The Philippine media have gotten used to referring to the Philippine weather bureau as PAGASA, which oxymoronically means “hope” in Tagalog—obviously an inappropriate name because of the dire news that the bureau usually brings to the public during the typhoon season in the Philippines. PAGASA is, of course, an acronym for the kilometric official name Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, which, in turn, is rendered in Filipino as the equally kilometric, strange-sounding Pangasiwaan ng Palingkurang Atmosperiko, Heopisikal at Astronomiko ng Pilipinas (PPAHAP). The acronym of this Filipino name doesn’t spell any nice existing word and doesn’t resonate, of course, so it’s understandable why the English acronym is the one that has gained currency instead. As to the full Filipinized name of the weather bureau, I know that this name is a well-meaning translation of the English, and I have gotten comfortable with all of the Filipinized terms in that name except for one—Palingkuran. I don’t know if you know what I have in mind, but that new Filipino coinage does sound like something else—something fetid—to me. Can’t we think up a better word? What do you think?
« Last Edit: November 07, 2009, 09:15:11 AM by Joe Carillo »

maxsims

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Re: Why not “soil” or “land” for “area of responsibility”?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2009, 07:03:27 AM »
"...It has to issue bulletins every six hours for all tropical cyclones within this area that have or are anticipated to make landfall within the Philippines, or every 12 hours when...etc"

"Have made, or are anticipated to make, etc"....?

Joe Carillo

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Re: Why not “soil” or “land” for “area of responsibility”?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2009, 09:14:27 AM »
That's right! It should be "have made, or are anticipated to make landfall." I shouldn't have copied PAGASA's official construction of that statement word-for-word. Anyway, I'll make the correction on my original posting right after this. Thanks, Max--as always!

maudionisio

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Re: Why not “soil” or “land” for “area of responsibility”?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2009, 03:39:39 PM »
We can just say that the typhoon has entered the Philippines.

shaoley

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Re: Why not “soil” or “land” for “area of responsibility”?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2009, 06:49:20 PM »
Well as for me saying typhoon has entered the Philippines means it has stepped on the Philippines soil whereas saying area of responsibility means that it has cross pass the imaginary border headed to Philippines.

maudionisio

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Re: Why not “soil” or “land” for “area of responsibility”?
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2009, 07:56:18 PM »
SHAOLEY: Philippines territory is not limited to the country's land mass. It covers the waters in which the country exercises jurisdiction. Therefore when one says “entered the Philippines,” it means the typhoon has crossed the “imaginary border” out at sea that separates the Philippines from neighboring countries. “Area of responsibility” is similar to jurisdiction.

silverlokk

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Re: Why not “soil” or “land” for “area of responsibility”?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2009, 03:36:28 PM »
We can just say that the typhoon has entered the Philippines.

But then, we wouldn't have anyone to beat up on when the typhoon does hit us. On a more serious note, that's what 'area of responsibility' means -- the authorities are responsible for the well-being of persons and property within that area. Without the concept of an area of responsibility, nobody is responsible for any destruction or loss of lives that a typhoon brings. What would all our grandstanding politicians and armchair analysts do to relieve their boredom?