THE state weather bureau admitted on Saturday that it had to change the pre-determined name of the next storm to enter the country because the one submitted to the World Meteorological Organization sounded a bit too similar to the nickname of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration had announced on Friday that if the low-pressure area hovering over the Pacific on Thursday turned into a storm, it would be named “Melor” in accordance with the WMO list.
However, Pagasa has a separate list using Filipino names for cyclones entering the country and the next name on the pre-determined list was “Nonoy.”
But, “due to its landfalling characteristics and in respect to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s name,” the name Nonoy was changed to “Nona,” the state-run Philippines News Agency reported, quoting Pagasa weather forecaster Glaiza Escullar.
But Pagasa officials said there was nothing unusual in the name and sex change because the weather bureau periodically changes or “retires” names depending on some criteria.
Escullar explained that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had something to do with it, too.
She said Arroyo herself had nothing to do with the name change, because the name “Gloria” was already on the pre-set list of names since 2002, but it was replaced with “Glenda” in 2006 since Arroyo was the president at the time.
According to international conventions, the names of storms in the Asia-Pacific region are chosen from a list submitted by 14 countries with each country getting three names that rotate over a period of four years.
But there are instances when member-weather bureaus decide to retire a certain name because of the deaths and damages it has caused.
In the Philippines, Pagasa retires a storm’s name if it has caused at least 300 deaths or P1 billion in damages, like in the case of “Yolanda” in 2013.
In fact, Yolanda was the third storm name to be retired in 2013 following the deaths or damage cause by Typhoon Labuyo in August and Typhoon Santi in October.
Before Labuyo, at least 10 other names were retired by Pagasa due to the same reasons. The retired names are Pablo (2012), Sendong (2011), Pedring (2011), Mina (2011), Juaning (2011), Bebeng (2011), Juan (2010), Pepeng (2009), Ondoy (2009) and Cosme (2008).